The pulsing waves of the Atlantic Ocean rock boards, lulling riders into a state of reverie as salt-tinged air tousles their hair. Long Island natives and former lifeguards Johana and Billy fell in love with this sun-soaked state of meditation and now share it with others through tours, lessons, and rentals at Fire Island Kite & SUP. With origins in ancient Hawaii, standup paddleboarding offers a laid-back alternative to walking on water. Visitors skim over shallows teeming with fish, keeping eyes peeled for wildlife while slipping past towns such as Robbins Rest and Fair Harbor.
Kiteboarding, on the other hand, has its roots solidly in modern times and sates the cravings of adrenaline junkies. The sport blends the speed of windsurfing, the sweeping turns of snowboarding, and the gentle spray of being on Shamu's debate team. Under the eye of a certified instructor, gusts of wind fill sails and propel kiteboarders across the waters near East Island.
At Embrace Yoga Center, the instructors focus first on helping folks find self-acceptance. Rather than forcing people into traditional molds, yogis help everyone find their comfort level. That means offering classes that range from calm meditation to intensive vinyasa, or leading holistic counseling sessions. Along with yoga classes, the center offers massage therapy and hypnotherapy that helps participants overcome everything from nicotine addiction to a deep-rooted fear of swinging watches.
Most gyms have designated spaces for weight- and cardio-based workouts. East Islip Health & Fitness does those gyms one better, with yet another area committed entirely to abs. Such specialization is the norm at the gym, where equipment from Cybex, Life Fitness, and Magnum accommodates nearly any fitness goal. Group classes range from Zumba to strength-focused sessions of Pump It Up, and certified trainers are also on hand, helping clients plan workouts after a five-step evaluation process. Group-based Synrgy 360 classes meld cardiovascular, strength, power, and agility in high-intensity workouts led by nationally-certified trainers.
Under the tutelage of Shihan Allie Alberigo, students of all ages learn the arts of ninjutsu and classical jujitsu, revamped for contemporary warriors. With four decades of martial-arts training under his belt, Allie Alberigo teaches his students about hand-to-hand combat and the use of weapons; he has also expanded classes to include disciplines such as judo, yoga, and kickboxing. The Little Warrior program builds punching ability in children as young as 3, and the Third Eye Insight program includes martial arts, yoga, and meditation classes for students who are blind or visually impaired. During these classes, sighted students can also spar and learn while wearing blindfolds. The facility includes two training floors and an archery range, which gives students ample room to flex without destroying nearby equipment.
Though Body FX boasts all the amenities found in larger gyms—such as cardio machines, strength-training equipment, workout studios, and a carrot tied to a stick—its staff of certified fitness professionals is the thing that sets it apart. Trainers collectively flaunt certifications in Zumba, TRX suspension training, and speed training. The trainers meet with each client individually to develop an exercise and nutrition program that best suits his or her fitness goals. Within large, airy studios, instructors lead personal-training sessions and boot camps to sculpt silhouettes quickly, as well as aerobic classes such as Zumba, Body Sculpt, and TRX suspension training.
Though Shaolin Self Defense Center teaches students how to punch, kick, and defend against opponents, the lesson its instructors find most important is to maintain self-esteem, discipline, and respect. Drawing upon a rich tradition that spans more than 1,500 years, instructors introduce students to Shaolin kung fu's signature blend of targeted strikes and debilitating grapples. However, classes are about more than just physical form. Instructors also encourage emotional and mental balance, leaving students with a quiet confidence that lasts long after lessons conclude.