Nicole Parisi forges interspecific bonds. At Major Expectations Riding and Training, she helps guests young and old get to know horses during lessons that run the gamut from simple horsemanship to jumping and show maneuvers. Alongside a packed curriculum of horseback sessions, Nicole can also corral a pile of ponies at a remote location for birthday parties or pony rides to celebrate a renewed mobile-phone contract.
43,000 square feet await airsoft players at Strikeforce Sports' indoor, close-quarters combat field. Once games start, that space starts to feel like an entire city. Foam boards have been transformed to look like buildings of brick and stone. Among them, obstacles such as trash cans and cars are the only things standing between players and their opponents. Strategy plays a key role here, as players choose whether to sneak slowly around corners, go through crawl spaces, or storm in and face their challengers head-on.
Away from the competitive space, Airsoft pistols and rifles, along with other gear, blanket the walls of the onsite pro shop. Here, staffers help players customize their airsoft guns with add-ons, including red dot sights. In addition to restocking their equipment, players can refuel between rounds at the full-service restaurant and sports bar.
American Academy of Self Defense's staff teaches centuries of martial-arts wisdom from various cultures into a curriculum of karate, jujitsu, kung fu, and kickboxing classes. The logo displays numerology to represent the ranks of the martial arts taught at the school; 10 stars and 10 stripes symbolize the 10 degrees of black belt all the way up to grandmaster.
But instructors don't stick to a single style in their quest for martial perfection, and their classes accommodate students of all ages. They teach a variety of skills, including the striking art kempo karate, the advanced grappling art of judo, and basic self-defense skills for men and women, working to instill strength, confidence, and self-esteem in their students. The school's senseis promise one-on-one attention and full participation in every class, leaving no one sidelined and wishing they could join in—as frequently happens in organized sports and never happens in royal family polo matches.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
Deer Park Bowl sets an atmosphere of relaxed fun with its state-of-the-art lanes and onsite bar and grill. Patriotic stars and stripes adorn 16 gleaming Brunswick Pro Anvil synthetic lanes that also feature upfront ball returns, delivering balls back to players faster than it takes to memorize the 14 Eskimo words for “bowling.” Servers at the onsite Pinheads Bar & Grill dish up pizzas, fried fare, and Italian entrees as customers play darts, gaze at six plasma televisions, and swig from an extensive selection of cold bottles, tap beer, and top-shelf liquor. On weekend nights, neon lighting transforms the alley into a cosmic wonderland, accompanied by satellite radio and Saturday night.