Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors?formerly known as Outdoor Bound?turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts?each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT?temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
It’s tough to get tree frogs, toucans, and monkeys to sit still in a studio. That's why the leaders of the Academy of Photo Arts take photography trips to Costa Rica, where they can find exotic wildlife in its natural habitat before capturing it on film. The photography academy’s travel courses can also whisk students off to Venice’s picturesque canals, or to Las Vegas to capture shots of the Grand Canyon or the landfill where all copies of Vegas Vacation are buried.
The school hosts Toronto-based courses as well, where keen-eyed photographers lead interactive workshops on wildlife photography and landscape photography. The in-studio courses, meanwhile, focus on techniques that help artists create flattering lighting setups, perform seamless Photoshop edits, and unscrew lens caps rather than smashing them to pieces in frustration. The Academy also provides photo- and video-booth rental that allows photo-takers to capture as many photos and video as they want in both color or black-and-white.
Spotlighted in Time magazine and the New York Times, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a nationally renowned program offering a unique take on musical education for children 3 months to 4 years old. Classes consist of 45 minutes of singing, dancing, musical storytelling, and jamming. Children's songsmith David Weinstone designed a curriculum celebrating the urban environment as well as universal concerns of youth via his classes, which have exploded into the national spotlight since their humble beginnings in 1997. Rather than being strict and results-driven, the teaching style at Music for Aardvarks is based on adult modeling and exposing children to ideas and sounds without dumbing them down. Parent participation is strongly encouraged for atonal squealers and former Yes drummers alike. Check the Music for Aardvarks website for the drop-in sessions and 10-class series schedules.
With sunlight cascading across their studio’s hardwood floors and crystal chandeliers, Danielle Buccellato and her staff lead more than 75 group classes every week, specializing in Pilates Mat, Xtend Barre, and group Apparatus training. Mixed in among those weekly classes is Renaissance Pilates’ popular four-week beginner program. During this program, students build strength and a full understanding of Pilates principles across eight sessions, so they are prepared to move onto regular classes and more advanced sessions. The studio’s other offerings map out different, but equally effective, routes toward fitness, including Xtend Barre—a toning workout that incorporates a ballet bar, handheld weights, and yoga straps. In addition to a variety of program options, Renaissance Pilates also offers the new Extend Barre Stick classes to help chisel bodies.
Sunlight has barely begun to creep up the sidewalk when Coach David throws open the doors to his 2,500-square-foot facility, surveying the kettlebells, sand bags, and stretch bands arrayed within. He conducts 35-minute boot camps in this energetic atmosphere, drawing inspiration from the many success stories told by his students. For six years, David has worked as a certified personal trainer, and in that time, he’s learned to customize his fitness routines on the spot, tailoring moves to each guest’s fitness level and goals. He sends students racing through calisthenics and cardio endurance exercises, changing the routine for every class to keep minds and bodies active and the ever-watching kettlebell deities appeased. To complement the intense boot camps, he also invites students to 50-minute Vinyasa yoga classes that link breathing and movements in workouts that improve flexibility.
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.