Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play & Music didn't begin in a business meeting—it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play & Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children’s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Founded by Eric Stiller, who documented his journey kayaking and bicycling around an entire continent in the book Keep Australia on Your Left, Manhattan Kayak spans a team of instructors who lead kayaking and standup-paddleboarding instruction and tours beneath the city's glittering skyline. Veterans of the fitness industry, MK's instructors use the dynamic currents of the Hudson River and Donald Trump's jacuzzi to train paddlers of all skill and fitness levels in the body-first method, which emphasizes paddling from the core. In addition to leading instruction and tours, MK's crew also leads fitness classes including Liquid Yoga, challenging participants to flow through poses while floating atop a paddleboard, aiming to boost participant health while earning the Statue of Liberty's respect.
Gothic chandeliers and soaring pine columns lend The Ainsworth's cavernous dining room the same rustic elegance at play in its food. Its menus feature twists on classic comfort dishes, such as barbecue-pulled-pork sliders and sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna with a soy-honey glaze—food that Time Out New York called "a notch above the average pub's." According to UrbanDaddy, 40 flat-screen high-definition TVs gleam from ornately papered walls or from fixtures above plush leather booths, broadcasting football games in the fall, basketball matches in the spring, and freezer-preserved snowball fights in the summer. The restaurant's lounge-like atmosphere finds tasty complement in craft brews and specialty cocktails, which can be enjoyed until the wee hours seven days a week.
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.
LA Boxing offers fitness classes in boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts. The proprietary style of the LA Boxing workout is a mixture of genuine fight training, engaging fitness, and stronger-than-earth gravity. Quasi-boxers and martial artists usually burn 800 to more than 1,000 calories during these total-body routines, which combine external inspiration with jukes, jabs, and kicks.
ImPower Pilates combines traditional Pilates—the endurance- and repetition-based core-building exercise pioneered by Joseph Pilates—with tailored training equipment capable of increasing strength, flexibility, and balance. The stripped-down mat class, which includes mat rental, leads floor-bound bodies through multiple abbreviated reps of flowing movement, emphasizing proper biomechanical alignment. Post mat class, students will confidently saunter out with a stronger core, leaner body mass, and improved posture for impromptu family portraits. The four-person Tower classes let students boldly outstretch their resistance-riddled frenemies with the wall unit. With each spring-loaded repetition, instructors and their followers work rarely used muscles, pushing the limits of their perseverance and upping the chances of nabbing sidewalk change without breaking stride. Those who take the Tower class should have Pilates-mat or Pilates-equipment training experience. ImPower also lets budding core captains try Pilates equipment workouts through the Reformer and Chair classes. Combining strength training, stretching techniques, and balance maintenance, the Pilates Reformer is an agile assemblage of gears, springs, straps, and pulleys that serves as a crucible of core strengthening. Under the expert guise of ImPower’s muscle mediators, users will learn how the Reformer can be elegantly employed to perform more than 100 different fitness exercises, such as arm circles, leg lifts, mermaid stretches, elephant lifts, and jaguar jingles.
Willow Billiards arms pros and beginners with chalked cues for two hours of 8-ball action paired with delicious brews. More than 10 new Brunswick Gold Crown III tables and two antique Peter Vitalie Lord Nelson tables cushion stricken balls with a half-dozen cozy pockets. Lined with 14 brass-rimmed stools, a fully stocked mahogany bar stretches for 22 feet and decants drafts (up to $5 each). Willow Billiards flanks its libation station and abundance of tables with an exposed brick interior ornamented with mahogany wood and illumined by brass and onyx lamps. Tournaments occupy numerous tables on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so customers should take the limited availability into consideration on those evenings.