On June 19, 1946, a veritable herd of racing fans—18,724 of them, in fact—galloped through the turnstiles at Monmouth Park Race Track. It was a gathering fit for a historic return, and indeed it was: 53 years separated that moment from the last time the track had hosted a race. Originally opened in 1870 in an effort to increase summer trade and give horses something to do while not in school, Monmouth Park was immediately popular, earning the moniker “Newmarket of America," a reference to the famed course in England. Yet in 1894, the state of New Jersey banned wagering on horses, effectively ending the facility's operations. In the 1940s, though, a man named Amory M. Haskell lobbied to have that law reversed. Today, the track honors its legislative savior by hosting the annual Haskell Invitational, a 1 1/8-mile race limited to three-year-old horses who’ve just learned to race without their training hooves.
An indoor-cycling studio, Breakaway Ryder uses stationary RealRyder bicycles, which tilt and lean in an effort to provide a full-body workout. Exercisers hop off of the polished, wooden studio-floor and on to one of several stationary bikes, where their legs furiously pump in group classes. Certified instructors lead them in cross-training sessions, orchestrating tilts and turns that exercise the core as well as the lower body.
For more than 15 years, multi-instrumentalist Abdo Ades has striven to instill his love of music into students of all skill levels. Through The Home Studio, which conducts lessons at students' abodes, Abdo has helped pupils lay down funky bass riffs and rock out with drum fills. Though versed in rhythm instruments, his musical focus remains piano and guitar, whose fundamentals he teaches through a blend of classical, jazz, and rock styles. After reviewing basic scales and chords, Abdo moves on to more advanced techniques. Such skills ready pupils for The Home Studio's annual recitals, during which students showcase their achievements for family and friends.
Manned by certified fitness and CrossFit L1 certified trainers, Ultimate Fit Zone offers boot camp and crossfit held in a small group environment. AstroTurf lines the 3,000-square-foot facility, flanked by bright blue, green, and purple walls. This well-equipped space pulses with beating hearts during classes such as Zone 360 Boot Camp and Crossfit.
As a former corrections officer, Victor Lashley’s career often immersed him in life-threatening situations, putting his self-defense skills to the test outside the safe confines of a gym. To empower others with the ability to fight back while getting fit, he now teaches myriad forms of martial arts at ICAT Triple Threat Training Center. He trains patrons in MMA grappling, Kali, and his own method Defensive Concepts, which blends kicking and close-range striking techniques from muay thai, Kali, and boxing into a fast-paced striking art that earned Lashley a state certification as a Defensive Tactics Instructor. With the aid of his fellow instructors, he helms boot-camp classes and one-on-one personal-training sessions that devour calories. Nala—a boxer-breed pooch—serves as the gym's mascot, security guard, and head instructor of drool-based self-defense techniques.
When years of competitive running and triathlon competitions left her with race-ending injuries, studio owner Jen Portman turned to yoga to help heal and strengthen her achy limbs. Jen studied under celebrated yogis including Bikram Choudhury and Shiva Rea, and now passes on their wisdom in the confines of her own heated studio. Her hot-yoga sessions are suitable for students of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels, as the intense temperatures help melt even the stiffest of muscles into deep, healing stretches and Möbius-strip-inspired poses.
Within a vibrant, yellow-and-blue-walled workout space, a fleet of free weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers populate the floor. Group workouts take solo regimes a step further, cultivating a sense of community as students perform step aerobics, kickboxing moves, or deeply held yoga poses in a heated studio. Additionally, personal-training sessions allow clients to work with a fitness guru who will custom build a workout that incorporates functional-training tools such as jump ropes, medicine balls, and dip bars, as well as motivating tools such as encouraging words of wisdom and large gentlemen with chainsaws standing behind the treadmills. Guests can drop tots off at the childcare center, which welcomes kids with games, toys, and a television. After workouts, grownups can replenish energy reserves with fresh-fruit smoothies at the adjacent café, where they can also play chess or surf the Internet between weight-lifting sessions. To promote wellness inside and out, they can visit an onsite spa or stop and see the resident chiropractor, who can treat their sports injuries and chronic pain with a range of holistic therapies.