Going to the gym can be an intimidating experience without a kindhearted gym staff and the proper support group of peers for encouragement. Go Figure Gym’s friendly fitness gurus are determined to cultivate a safe, nonjudgmental environment where women can get in shape together. Classes such as Zumba, 30-minute workout circuit training, and hula hoops promote a sense of community as participants sweat side by side, shaking their rumps to Latin music, running in place, and playing Hot Potato with blocks of concrete.
Bally's story can be traced back to the late 1930s, when a little-known pinball manufacturer in Chicago, Illinois, refined its factories to produce flight equipment for World War II. Ballyhoo's business diversified and boomed in the ‘50s, and within 40 years they became the largest owner and operator of fitness centers in the world. Though their size has ballooned, their mission remains the same: to help each of their clients achieve their ideal bodies through personal training, high-tech workout machines, and heart-pumping group classes. The gym's approach to fitness educates and introduces exercisers to workouts without a steep learning curve or mandatory speed dates with elliptical machines.
In central New York, the artisans at Brennan Stained Glass Studio work with extreme heat and traditional techniques to craft elaborate stained-glass windows and art pieces. In addition to producing the stained-glass dome atop Alexandria Bay's Boldt Castle, the team has designed and installed windows for thousands of churches, temples, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and office buildings. The team also instructs students in the art of stained glass with its own unique approach. Lessons include basic instruction in the copper-foil method to create window panels and sun catchers. Students may also learn how to design their own custom fused-glass plates so they can stop arguing over dish ownership with their dogs.
While some artists gravitate toward certain media, Ilene Layow—or “Eye” to her friends since childhood—unabashedly loves them all: glass, pencil, clay, pastel, metals, acrylic. Her body of artwork is staggeringly diverse. She has designed murals for both homes and businesses, painted family portraits, created silver jewelry, formed intricate candleholders out of clay, and fused glass to form night lights perfect for scaring off closet monsters that hate beauty. She has even developed her own art form she calls “formscapes,” which combine the gentle contours of landscapes with abstracted shapes. In flexible classes tucked into a tidy ranch house, she introduces many of the crafts she loves to teen and adult students.
The supportive staff at the women's-only Kelly Lyn North specializes in issues such as menopause, teaches kicks and crunches in energetic group classes, and also works one-on-one with members to assess body stats and create healthy goals. After joining, a one-hour personal-training session with a fitness guru helps members build personalized workouts and dish about nutrition, or focus on issues such as toning muscle, losing weight, and building bone density. Complimentary body assessments track progress with a body-fat test, measurements of target areas, and a BMI calculation, which divides each guest's weight by height as they jump on a pogo stick. Group classes let students sample a range of calorie-blasting maneuvers, from swiveling hips to Latin beats in a 60-minute Zumba class to kicking and jabbing in a 45-minute Taebox session. A 45- to 60-minute Turbo Kickbox Challenge class packs kicks, punches, and cardio circuits into a comprehensive workout, and the 15-minute Abs Express class hones in on cores. Strength-training equipment, cardio machines, and skateboards strapped to treadmills ensure convenient solo exercise. Groupon holders can jog through the online schedule for a full list of class times.
Founded in 1963, Central New York Karate & Kobudo Schools has a history nearly as rich as karate itself. The schools' classes foster self-discipline, healthfulness, and self-defense for children and adults alike. The instructors for adult classes average a decade of experience apiece, each well versed in the disciplines of Okinawan Goju Ryu karate and kobudo.