Saphira, the matriarch and founder of Saffron Dance, didn’t even exist 20 years ago, much like “I survived Y2K” bumper stickers. Saphira was known as Rachael Galoob-Ortega, a lawyer who practiced in DC and Florida for a decade. But her high-power career and hefty paycheck couldn’t extinguish her passion for dance. And so she became Saphira, an international belly-dance artist and instructor with numerous accolades, including being featured in American Belly Dancer, a documentary about belly dance in the United States.
Saphira opened Saffron Dance six years ago, and along with 18 fellow instructors, channels her years of expertise into dance courses that get progressively more challenging from week to week. Welcoming all levels, her classes teach both Egyptian-inspired belly dance and community-focused tribal belly dance. Regardless of the class type, Saphira and her teachers encourage pupils to express their unique voices through dance, all while keeping proper alignment, mastering precision, and having fun.
Karate master Kancho Ninomiya adapted the classic techniques of his favorite fighting style to the needs of modern self-defense, creating the style known as Enshin Karate. The fast-paced style emphasizes constant movement, a blend of kicks and grappling take-downs, and techniques for facing multiple opponents at once. The practical nature of the street-savvy style appealed to a young Nima Mazhari, who discovered a dojo on his way home from school one day.
Mazhari joined the school hoping to learn to fight, but instead discovered the value of a determined work ethic. The lessons he learned in that dojo inspired him to excel in school, pass his college-entrance exams, and pursue his degree. He then decided to share the lessons he had learned with the world. He founded Enshin Karate to not only teach kids and adults his fighting techniques, but to help them discover how to be the best versions of themselves without relying on personality upgrades downloaded online.
Kaizen Mixed Martial Art borrows its name from a Japanese term that describes a type of activity that, when performed regularly, yields momentous results over time. This concept forms the core of Kaizen Mixed Martial Art's training philosophy—any action, no matter how slight, brings great results with continuous effort. Under the tutelage of skilled instructors, students steadily develop self-defense skills, tone muscles, and learn what it takes to be a professional fighter in a variety of disciplines. In Muay Thai classes, K-1 tournament finalists teach students "the art of eight limbs" through striking techniques that rely on the hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA cover a wide array of grappling techniques from a faculty that includes former WEC and UFC fighter Kamal Shalorus, and old-fashioned boxing lessons come straight from coaches with Golden Gloves championships in their trophy cases.
Positivity. Simple as it sounds, it's a central pillar of the philosophy behind Life Champ Martial Arts. At each of the school's five locations, the warm, supportive atmosphere starts with the instructors. Sure, they pass along years of martial arts wisdom, but they also strive to help students–younger ones, especially–realize that having fun doesn't necessarily mean sitting in front of a TV, or arguing the legitimacy of the moon landing with an imaginary friend. Through programs for kids, teens, and even entire families, Life Champ's instructors lead students along a path that builds self-confidence and improves self-defense techniques. Instructors build on these same skills in extracurricular offerings, which include after-school programs, birthday parties, and week-long summer camps.
Having played hundreds of tennis matches over the years, Steven and Pete have had to string their rackets more times than they can count. They've learned the subtleties of the art—which strings to choose for durability, which for power, and which for finely grated cheese—as well as how to replace strings speedily. Their pickup and delivery services ensure that players can return to the court without a pit stop. With polyester, multifilament, and synthetic strings from brands such as Dunlop, Babolat, Kirschbaum, Wilson, and Luxilon, their wide variety suits most rackets. The store locations also sell other tennis accessories, from balls to replacement grips.