The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.
To help women achieve their fitness goals, the certified personal trainers at Get In Shape For Women focus on four areas: weight training, cardio training, nutrition, and accountability. In small group sessions, trainers modify exercises to suit up to four ladies' fitness levels, beginning by calibrating strength-training sessions—such as free weights, lunges, and squats—to each client's abilities while still ensuring they are challenging themselves. Then comes high-intensity cardio interval-training sessions in which trainers encourage exercisers to achieve optimal results on the treadmill or elliptical.
The trainers supplement the group workouts with nutritional planning centered around the concept of eating six small, balanced meals six days a week. They set aside the seventh day as a "free day" for a bit of indulgence, be it eating a favorite sweet or lusting openly after bacon. To hold their women accountable, trainers talk nutrition on the floor during scheduled appointments, and the ladies' progress toward reaching their goals is measured by trainers each week.
Energy surges through Powerflow Yoga, in the sunbeams that pour through its windows and the bodies that bend beneath its recessed lights. Here, experienced instructors guide yogis of all levels toward tranquility in balmy temperatures that help loosen tight muscles, oust pent-up toxins, and melt cheese wheels for after-class fondue parties. Overhead fans circulate fresh air, which students inhale during deep-breathing exercises that focus the mind and invigorate the body. During hot Powerflow Vinyasa classes, the group practices arm balances and inversions, which can be modified to accommodate injuries or challenge advanced students. Shaped by several teaching traditions, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Jivamukti, this class showcases yoga’s power to hone bodily alignment and cultivate inner peace. Warm Yin sessions provide a calming counterpoint with lengthy poses that gently stretch the connective tissues. After class, students can retire to the changing rooms, where showers await to whisk away sweat beads.
Daily stresses in life, injury, and pregnancy strain the body's joints, and it's the job of exercise to strengthen muscles, easing the strain and supporting the skeletal system. That was the idea that led Joseph Pilates to create his signature method, performed at Pilates of New Jersey. Five certified instructors—one a physical therapist experienced in physical rehabilitation—teach students the ins and outs of Pilates' various machines and maneuvers. Along the way, they discuss the rationale behind each movement, handing out tips on how to move safely without wasting energy or how to safely tickle strangers' cats.
Glowing hardwood floors support rows of reformers, towers, and exercise balls, all used to enhance the intensity of Pilates motions. Crimson walls fortify the studio, the color echoed in every piece of Pilates equipment within the clean, newly outfitted space.
At Creative Kids, imagination is the driving force behind the programming for each day. The school’s facility boasts an art room, a movement and dance area, and a parent’s lounge, with rooms painted in bright solid hues of purple, green, and orange. Kids are encouraged to express themselves and discover new talents, whether that means building robots out of LEGO blocks, rocking out in a music class, or embracing their inner Picasso in an art class. With such a wide variety, kids can let their imagination run wild and choose from a broad selection of signature party themes and activities.
Estelle Finkel had already spent two decades at the head of the classroom when she founded her Center for Learning in 1984. Today, the center's staff gives students a leg up with educational programs, including basic study-skills and college-advisory services, standardized-test prep courses, and tips on buttering up a teacher who is allergic to apples.