Argentina–born soccer enthusiast Gustavo Szulansky opened Super Soccer Stars to provide the boroughs with a program that championed the personal development of youngsters rather than solely a skill-based focus. Since its debut in 2000, it's grown throughout the city, helping countless youngsters learn teamwork, boost confidence, and decrease arguments during home games played on the dining-room table. This rapid growth is due in part to the positive values Gustavo instilled from the first class. His coaches are carefully selected for their ability to cultivate a noncompetitive, sensitive approach to learning the game, and they dole out their knowledge in both classes and camps.
Super Soccer Star's Kick & Play program features family-friendly classes that help tots 12–24 months old develop pre-soccer skills and physical skill sets simultaneously. During classes, a team of talented and enthusiastic instructors and an athletic duo of puppet friends named Mimi and Pepe buoy budding soccer players with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and the merry clickety-clack of cleated tap dances. Designed with the help of early-childhood specialists, each age-specific class helps players build skills at their own pace with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and engaging original music.
BumbleBee Tennis's wide spectrum of tennis programs for juniors and adults nurture players at every step of game development. Skilled instructors helm a variety of lessons from Beginner Group Tennis classes to private one-on-one intensives. All teachers are trained professionals and most have played competitively at the collegiate level. While helping students focus on technique and making solid contact with the ball, instructors also attempt to ensure that everyone from youngsters to veterans enjoys the game and knows how to count all the way to love. Adults interested more specifically in the cardiovascular aspect of the game can enroll in Cardio Tennis, a 60-minute class comprised of high-intensity drills and games that elevate heart rates into the aerobic zone and subsequently evaporate calories.
It’s safe to say Catherine Fox knows her way around a pool. She won an Olympic gold medal for her ability to find her way from end to end. Partnering with Swim Jim owner Jim Spiers, a trainer for 2012 Olympics Bronze medalist Lia Neal, the pair transformed their expertise into a curriculum that helps others learn to love the water as they do. The resulting program, titled the Underwater Schoolhouse, forms the cornerstone of every class held at Swim Jim.
Teachers take on students of all ages, focusing first on helping to cure land dwellers’ inherent nervousness around water. To do this, they use a combination of encouragement and humor, never pushing a student further than they’re willing to go. Once students take the plunge, the coaches focus on teaching the mechanics of a variety of strokes, such as how to kick during breaststroke or how to emerge gracefully from the chrysalis before butterfly stroke.
Boom Fitness focuses on maintaining a luxuriously spacious and well-stocked exercise haven. Cardio machines might be separated by as much as 18 inches to accommodate arcing pedals and stationary-bike sidecars, and a collective 10,000 pounds of free weights ensure that members needn't wait to lift. From an elegant eastern-themed studio—wherein professional instructors lead five types of yoga and tai chi—to glossy granite-and-marble bathrooms, Boom Fitness's amenities come lavishly packaged. Group fitness classes fall into cardio, tone, and mind-and-body categories so members can easily select an appealing workout, and the sessions range from urban-rebounding routines atop springy trampolines to full-body boot-camp drills.
Led by founder Master Malick Coulibaly dit Fall, Harlem Tae Kwon Do’s talented instructors teach both children and adults the art of tae kwon do. Despite the challenges of establishing a tae kwon do business in Harlem, Master Fall never gave up, searching relentlessly until a 4,400-square-foot space opened up in the center of the neighborhood. The persistence of Master Fall's search speaks to his character as leader as well as the spirit of his instruction, which emphasizes discipline, self-confidence, and concentration. Offering more than 25 classes each week, Harlem Tae Kwon Do instructs students of all ages and ability levels in traditional sessions, which focus on self-defense and form, as well as in Olympic classes that center on sparring techniques and the proper way to match gold medals with khaki.
The pressure is off when students step into Just Dance LLC. Although its instructors come from a competitive background—traveling to Germany, Denmark, Hungary, England, and France for numerous dance championships—the school instead focuses on dance’s social aspects, allowing students to learn at their own pace in a supportive, positive environment. Stress melts away as students hone their footwork in styles including waltz, fox trot, tango, samba, rumba, and cha-cha, conditioning their bodies in the process. Classes are often followed by practice sessions led by teachers, whereas Friday-night and Saturday-night gatherings continue the collegial vibe with snacks, wine, and philosophical discussions over whether everybody truly can cut footloose.