Heavy bags circle the perimeter of The KO Club for Kids 10,000-square-foot training facility. Unlike the gear found in most gyms, the bags don't absorb the bruising blows of muscled-up fighters. Instead, they await flurries of punches from a decidedly different group: the club's kiddie-sized fighters. During their youth boxing and martial arts classes, certified boxing and martial arts instructors oversee a spacious padded floor where kids learn the fundamentals of fun, effective self-defense. After strapping on professional protective gear, youngsters hone technique and expend excess energy as they go rounds with padded gear and punching mitts. This no-spar approach keeps the classes low-pressure, building confidence without forcing kids to box with other students or that one punching bag that hits back.
The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.
Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.
Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.
Ellen Seelen’s dance career has taken her from sashaying across cruise ships to high-kicking on stage with Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis. At US Dance Club, Ellen shares a lifetime’s worth of dance acumen through detailed group and private lessons. Ellen and her fellow instructors introduce students to an international array of ballroom dance styles, including tango, samba, and the waltz, as well as country western and line dancing.
Muvement is as much a gym as it is a physical-fitness lab. Certified strength and conditioning specialist Michael Houle and Jill Houle, who holds a BS in nutritional science, team up to invest clients with practical workout regimens and an intimate knowledge of how the body works on a physiological level. Before new clients lift their first weight at the studio, a personal trainer consults with them about their exercise and health history and runs physical assessments and lab tests to identify potential obstacles related to the immune, digestive, hormonal, and detoxification systems. Next, Jill draws on her background as a professional nutritionist to recommend a diet suited to the client’s unique metabolism, and explains how the body breaks down calories and nutrients. Even their fitness regimens take a holistic approach. Whether in group or personal-training sessions, functional movements using resistance bands, TRX suspension, and kettlebells incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints into each exercise, building a physique more balanced than two eggs riding a seesaw during the spring equinox.
Instructors at Frank Corbo’s aren't satisfied with simply imparting martial-arts techniques to the kids, teens, and adults they take under their professionally trained wings. In addition to teaching proper form, instructors aim to instill students with confidence, self-discipline, and tenacity that pupils can take with them when they leave the mirrored facility's blue mat. The studio belongs to Black Belt Schools International, which helps the staff stay updated on new techniques, teaching methods, nutritional science, and laundering techniques to ensure belt colors never fade. In addition to karate, the schedule includes classes on self-defense for adults and kids, fitness kickboxing, and mixed martial arts.
Whether you need a racket restrung in the pro shop or want to hear stories about the time he taught an up-and-coming Maria Sharapova, Glastonbury Tennis Club director Jim Melesko happily consults with visitors on all aspects of the game. Jim oversees the club's six championship courts, where he and his fellow professional teachers coach kids and adults alike. Their lessons cover game basics to tournament techniques, preparing students for both casual and USTA team matches. Spectators can observe practicing players from an observation deck in the lounge, which is equipped with daycare centers and free WiFi.
At the family-owned New England Dive Center, certified instructors pursue a mission of expanding scuba-diving know-how to the whole world, training underwater explorers with a curriculum of beginning to advanced diving classes. Several open-water courses survey safety, equipment, and diving etiquette to put students on the path toward PADI, TDI, or SDI certification, and an underwater photography seminar illustrates how to capture lucid footage of marine life and document mermaids' dance recitals. Group vacations shepherd divers to the lush corals of the Florida Keys, Cozumel, and the Grand Bahamas, and local events explore the quarries and shipwrecks hidden within New England's own waters. The full-service repair shop also stocks rental and retail equipment, supplying divers with high-end fins, masks, and tanks from brands such as Atomic Aquatics and XS Scuba.