Starfish Aquatic Club doesn't exist within a single building; rather, it connects a network of pools and veteran instructors with students aged 6 months and older for lessons that develop and hone vital swimming skills. Instruction primarily occurs in private lessons for kids or adults, which feature one-on-one in-water instruction doled out in 20- to 30-minute chunks. Instructors also schedule small-group lessons for kids, focusing on general technique progression with no more than four students at once. Their parent-child class gives caregivers the opportunity to splash around with kids, though all other lessons prohibit moms and dads from being in the pool at the same time to avoid distracting the youths with retro swimwear. Typically, full sessions take place once a week for four weeks. Instructors also hold pay-as-you-go lessons for those who only want a couple of days of instruction.
School directors Diego Di Falco and Carolina Zokalski spent years dancing in Buenos Aires before they launched their professional dancing careers at the age of 20 by landing roles in the touring production of Forever Tango. When the show made its way to the U.S., the two became two of the youngest tango dancers in history to make it to Broadway. Like a puppy at show-and-tell, they earned enthusiastic acclaim, eventually picking up a Tony nomination for their choreography. These achievements were only the beginning of careers that graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Marquis Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and other esteemed venues.
Their reputations secured, Carolina and Diego turned to sharing the art of Argentinian dance with students, which they do today at Summit's Twin Maples mansion, a neoclassical home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the hardwood dance floor is lit by chandeliers and accented by classical touches such as crown molding and bronze curtain rods, giving one the sense of dancing at a presidential ball or in a really, really fancy broom closet. There, the pair strives to make each step as authentic as possible by importing traditional music and guest artists directly from Argentina for the classes, workshops, and performances they helm.
Students arrive at Ballroom Dance of NJ seeking to learn the elegant art of social dancing, a tradition carried on by Russia natives Sergei and Olga Bezrodnov. The husband-and-wife team has taken home numerous Russian and U.S. championship titles, and the two are committed to sharing their passion for dance with the community.
Having experienced how ballroom dancing can promote both physical and mental well-being, the Bezrodnovs teach adults, children, and entire families how to gracefully navigate the dance floor. They coordinate events where couples can demonstrate their skills in styles such as the foxtrot, waltz, tango, cha-cha, and swing, preparing soon-to-be-wedded couples for their big day and singles to pass the time in malfunctioning elevators.
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.
Master Byung Uk Kim owns World Champion’s K Tae Kwon Do, but helming the studio is hardly the most impressive stat on his martial-arts résumé. A seventh-dan black belt, Master Kim’s tae kwon do experience spans the globe—he was the head coach of the USA’s Junior Olympic Team, and a 10-time national champion in Korea, the sport’s country of origin.
At his two New Jersey studios, Master Kim currently teaches his specialty to students of all experience levels and belt hues, aided by a team of trainers. Beyond courses in their namesake discipline, the studios also host free cardio-kickboxing nights for parents every Tuesday, as well as tae kwon do–themed birthday parties.