Military personnel, police officers and detectives have something in common besides high-risk jobs: Dennis Hill. The chief instructor at Aiki Academy of Self Defense, armed with a black belt in judo and a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu, has trained members of all three professions in the art of hand-to-hand combat. He also teaches civilians at his 4,000-square-foot dojo, voted New Haven’s best martial-arts studio in 2012 by CT.com readers.
Hill and his team helm more than 50 classes per week. Sessions traffic in styles that range from kickboxing-focused combat hapkido and muay thai to krav maga, a fighting style that readies people for no-rules brawls, such as street fights or bare-knuckle-boxing matches held on cruise ships once maritime law kicks in. Fitness classes from kettlebell workouts to flexibility-enhancing yoga complement the self-defense courses, as do amenities such as an onsite playroom and free coffee in the spacious waiting room.
Inflated structures, slides, and games fill the climate-controlled environs of the numerous BounceU locations that speckle the nation. At each site, staff members closely monitor all activities as little ones traverse obstacle courses or pull on oversized inflatable boxing gloves. The crew also invites parents to join in on the fun, letting them bounce alongside their kids or make sweeping edicts from atop a bouncy-castle throne. In addition to open sessions, the indoor-play haven sets the stage for the Preschool Playdate program, where instructors lead games and activities. Special events include family-bounce night, which lets parents join in the bouncing or relax in the party room and do grownup things, such as eat marshmallows with a knife and fork.
Ever since she started teaching karate to kids and adults at A.F.A Karate in 1992, fourth-degree black belt Roseann Fusco has preached one main belief of the martial art—that beyond punches and kicks, karate is about improving oneself in all possible ways. Under the wings of the school's seasoned faculty, students work towards this while honing fundamental karate traits, such as self-defense, stress-reduction, and confidence-boosting. Despite the name, the martial-arts studio doesn't just teach karate. Fusco and her staff also schedule karate weapons and sparring lessons, all of which can help pupils improve their overall fitness.
A seven-circuit labyrinth sounds like the setting for a Greek myth, but at Branford River Resort and Spa, it is a concrete place patrons visit to practice meditation. Relaxation is not reserved for the labyrinth, though?it pervades the spa and resort as a whole, helping to earn the establishment one of 2012?s Patch Readers? Choice awards. Visitors can bask in the healing milieu of its infrared sauna, lounge in the onsite gazebo, or unwind during diverse spa treatments.
The spa?s treatments encompass a vast array of facials, which can combat acne or aging, soothe with warm stones, or draw on the healing power of crystals. Massages range from traditional Swedish effleurage to the Shiradora indian head massage, which incorporates kneading upon the back and herbal oil conditioners, just like a cat clinic held in a soap shop. Body wraps ensconce physiques in materials from Dead Sea mud to mylar foil, and a complementary suite of salon services beautifies visitors with custom haircuts, highlights, and nail services.
Growing up around his dad’s dry-cleaning chain, Patrick McCann witnessed how immaculately cleaned clothes can brighten a customer's entire day. Patrick and his wife, Polly, now elicit satisfied customer grins of their own at Coastal Cleaners, a dry-cleaning and tailoring shop that keeps clothes and the environment healthy using eco-friendly fibromatic cleaning methods. Early risers can take advantage of the Branford location’s same-day cleaning services, and garments brought to the Madison location by 3 p.m. will emerge as spot-free as a shaved dalmatian by the next afternoon. Both shops feature a 24-hour drop box in which patrons can slip their soiled duds, tablecloths, and linens to have them cleaned according to the instructions already listed on their client file.
Dance in Rhythm Director Alex Scott strapped on his first set of dancing shoes at the age of 18, and has spent most of his days since then navigating ballroom floors. Alex used to coach the Yale University Ballroom Dance team, which was the smartest dance team since the Apollo 11 crew accidentally moonwalked in rhythm. Alex’s current base of operation features an intimate atmosphere and a joint-friendly floating dance floor. He and his team of instructors teach social, American, and International ballroom styles as well as non-traditional belly-dancing and ballroom cardio. They invite students to group and private sessions as well as regular open dance parties. Twice a year, the studio holds showcases and competitions that grant an opportunity for newly minted dancers to show off their new moves.