On this nonprofit stable’s 21 acres, a gaggle of horses helps visitors with and without physical, mental, and emotional struggles expand their self-confidence, bolster social skills, and improve quality of life. Therapy is the center's primary mission, pursued via lessons tailored to each rider's pace and needs. Stroke patients, those with visual and hearing impairments, and people with depressive and autism-spectrum disorders are all welcome.
Centered riding combines classic principles of riding with body awareness, centering, and imagery. Certified instructors also use rider biomechanics in lessons for beginners to intermediate to help improve core strength, balance, and harmony with the horses.
Though not officially part of the center's therapy techniques, a host of additional programs use horseback riding to nurture mental and physical well-being. Offerings include Yoga on Horseback, Mommy and Me sessions, and Silver Saddle lessons, which are geared toward older riders and discerning horses looking to incorporate more bling into their wardrobes.
Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
The expert instructors of Iron Temple of Martial Arts consider their classes to be more than just learning movements. They aim to instill the mindset of martial arts in their students to help them develop their body and mind through both traditional and nontraditional classes. Their hapkido and MMA classes, for example, focus on the traditional values of martial arts, and the self-preservation and group fitness classes classes incorporate more contemporary philosophies about fitness.
Students who want to ride one of Equestrian Enterprize's trusty steeds don't have to wait until their first lesson to meet the animals. The staff is so fond of its four-legged instructors that each one gets its own page on the website. Guests can meet Isiah, the Percheron gelding whose long white eyelashes will steal your heart, or RJ Rabbit, the 10-year-old quarter pony who fancies himself the barn clown. These introductions are engaging, but riders won't really know the team until they visit the picturesque facility, where an indoor arena and four outdoor riding rings sit flanked by lush trees and rugged trails. In this setting, teachers call on their competition experience to instill students with the skills to handle horses in the english, western, dressage, or driving disciplines. For seasoned riders or unkempt centaurs, the equestrian specialists also offer boarding services with custom feeding programs, ample turnout, and regular stall cleaning.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.