Amid the illuminated signs, speedo-clad cowboys, and web-slinging superheroes of Times Square, it can become difficult to stand out. Ral’eau Salsa Dance Company, one of the neighborhood’s many businesses, has just the solution—teaching students to express themselves through a variety of energetic, sensual dances that originated in Latin America and calorie-torching Zumba classes. Teachers demonstrate the steps of New York- and LA-style salsa with patience and positivity, using easy-to-follow cues to help students master each swivel, spin, and air-guitar solo. They also teach other styles of movement, including tango, hip-hop, and swing, which students can take to the streets during field trips to dance clubs and cruise ships.
In addition to hosting signature Salsa classes, Ral’eau Salsa Dance Company opens its spacious, climate-controlled studios to those who want to tone muscles and burn fat through Zumba classes. Fostering a community of 1,000-plus members, the company hosts more than 300 classes per month across various disciplines while maintaining intimate class sizes. With five levels of progressive advancement, students will meet new people, improve dancing techniques, boost self-esteem, and stay fit while swiveling their moves in a lively environment. To accompany a wide array of fitness classes including pilates, yoga, and mixed martial arts, instructors lead private dance lessons to help couples gear up for weddings, proms, or three-legged races on the set of Soul Train.
Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo have extensive experience in Bikram yoga. Donna, a former Broadway performer, noticed that actors, musicians, and stagehands had little space to stretch and warm up before their performances. In turn, she chose the theater district for her flagship BIkram Yoga studio built in 1998, when Bikram was just gaining in popularity. The first Bikram Yoga NYC location soon blossomed into seven yoga rooms spread across four locations, and all are covered in Flotex anti-microbial flooring. This waterproof flooring protects against germs more effectively than than wood floors or cooties shots. Hygiene is important when practicing Bikram yoga, as the increased temperatures cause participants to work up a healthy sweat.
On the flipside, Jennifer has an athletic background, with experience in everything from marathons to soccer and tennis. She also worked as the communications director for IMG—a powerful force in the world of sports marketing. Together, Rubin and Lobo produced the very first Yoga Asana Championship in New York. They continue to do so each year while leading a team of more than 70 certified instructors who host nearly 300 classes each week, making it convenient for clients to fit sessions in to busy schedules.
Kristin Hanson began her journey toward fine jewelry-making mastery by walking down a path less traveled. Raised in a home where expression was encouraged, she spread her roots to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Then she took a leap. She traveled to the wilds of Colorado to apprentice under master goldsmith Harold O'Connor, learning his nuanced, perfectionist techniques and method for training squirrels to be workshop assistants. Her studies then carried her to Florence and Tuscany before drawing her back to the East Coast.
Kristin's life-inspired works embody the contemporary with forms that highlight the innate beauty of her materials. Her trademark couture jewelry has caught the eye of such publications as Lucky and InStyle. In short courses and intensive programs, she hews to a teaching philosophy that fosters others' styles instead of encouraging copycats of her own. Except during special exhibits, Kristin handcrafts each piece in 60 Reade, her 6,000-square-foot Tribeca gallery, and specializes in conflict-free pink diamonds from an Australian mine.
Harlem Yoga Studio makes the ancient art accessible to yogis of all kinds. In its environment of relaxing deep breathing and playful stretches, which has received acclaim for its unique classes, moms and dads work through mountain poses with their kids during family sessions, and plus-sized patrons build flexibility in full-figured yoga.
Led by New York native and doula Laurel Katz-Bohen and former soccer player Erica Barth, the impassioned instructors spread their yogic teachings during studio sessions. Light floods the bamboo-floored space as toddlers caper across tiny yoga mats or prenatal yogis learn belly-dancing with instructors drifting about to offer individualized adjustments and challenging Full House trivia questions in the various classes.
Skilled yogis drop into Vinyasa Flow sessions, where students explore smoothly cascading transitions and gale-strength exhalations, incorporating dynamic strengthening poses into the style's assorted bends and twists. Workshops and outreach programs bring yoga practices into the community, some focusing on a specific style and others examining how to use yoga to help classmakes and colleagues work more peacefully and effectively together.
When Blake Eastman meets strangers, plays poker, sits in on corporate negotiations as a consultant, or turns on the TV and watches politicians speak, he analyzes dozens of nonverbal clues and subtle behaviors that betray an individual's true feelings and intentions. "I've always been a natural at it," he says. "It's part of who I am." But through his education and independent research he’s gotten better and can now pinpoint every indicator that shows a person is hiding their emotions––from their microexpressions to their wooden nose growing 2 inches.
During interactive group classes Blake outfits his students' observational tool belts with the knowledge to read body language or improve their dating lives. Classes engage with multiple activities that range from video analysis to role-playing. As images of apologetic celebrities and athletes flash across the screen, Blake pinpoints telltale microexpressions that crawl across each person's face. In the game "two truths and a lie," students take turns trying to deceive each other as the class hunts for the lie and its tells. The skills in each class lay a foundation for what Blake calls a lifelong effort to learn what someone is truly thinking or feeling.
For more than 20 years, Igor Dyachenko has trained with top coaches around the world and won numerous awards in international competitions. As a former world champion, certified instructor, and founder of D-Dojo Karate, he calls upon those years of experience to fuse classical Japanese karate techniques with modern science, including knowledge culled from biophysics, biomechanics, and reruns of The Bionic Woman. The dojo is a member of the World Karate Federation (WKF) and an official branch of the Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIF), headed by Hirokazu Kanazawa. Dyachenko trained with Kanazawa, a 10th-degree black belt who studied with the creator of Shotokan karate.
Dyachenko and his team strive to train students quickly with basic karate techniques known as kihon, kata, and kumite exercises. Children practice exercises through running, jumping, and playing, in order to help develop physical strength, agility, and mental toughness. Dyachenko also used his karate skills and sense of humor to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech on The Colbert Report.