In order to receive the best martial-arts training, the founder of Long Island Asian Studies Center studied in, well, Asia. Tom Collings moved to Japan in 1976 to learn under pupils of Ueshiba, the creator of the aiki budo martial-arts method, and in 2007 he earned a sixth-degree black belt. Now Collings has become an instructor himself, teaching a wide cross-section of new martial-arts disciples, from police officers and veterans to children and people with disabilities. Collings is used to teaching self-defense: he's a 26-year vet of law enforcement as well as a certified New York State police safety instructor. Many of the other instructors have backgrounds in social work and youth psychiatry, too, making them uniquely qualified to hone mental discipline as well as physical skill.
At Long Island Asian Studies Center, Collings and his instructors teach aiki budo, which, unlike other martial arts, is noncompetitive and doesn't require a final exam of wrasslin' a bear with your bare hands. Instead, they focus on components such as multidirectional awareness, weapons training, and breathing exercises, as well as safety and respect for oneself and others. They also teach a mixture of Hatha yoga and yoga-related disciplines. In addition to martial arts, Tom Collings has spent several years in Asia studying meditation and yoga, making five trips to Japan and China. Now, he's one of New York's experts in qi gong, or Chinese yoga, which the Long Island Asian Studies Center also teaches, along with aiki taiso. Their gentle movements and relaxation exercises act as a form of preventative health care and give students the flexibility to shimmy into spandex pants.
Obnoxious Paintball offers 25,000 square feet of indoor, climate-controlled splatter heaven, with an X-Ball field (110'x125') equipped with labyrinths of inflatable rubber bunkers for strategy and shelter. Chromatic warriors brandish the exclusive, all-metal Planet Eclipse ETEK3 AM paintball gun, its compressed air tank rapidly ejecting a barrage of kaleidoscopic paint spheres that eliminate opponents from the game after transforming each one into a flesh-and-blood Jackson Pollock piece. Players can bring their own artistic armor or rent masks and chest protectors for $5 each.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Town Sports International's network of fitness loci, opens up a number of equipment-stocked facilities across New York to exercisers. Strength-training gear, such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls, molds muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Sessions on cardio machines, ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles, inspire burnt calories to pack up and move to cooler climates. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draws from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, ensuring that no member has to jazzercise without a spotter. Each location rewards exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features such as babysitting, saunas, and steam rooms.
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.
My Gym began more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and expend energy, and now boasts more than 200 international locations. All classes are organized according to age level (starting as young as 6 months) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6–9, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and the hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun levels.
Retro Fitness, named one of Entrepreneur's Top New Franchises in 2011, unfurls with 13,000 square feet of vintage-styled workout space that leads visitors to physical peaks in a sunny setting marked by red and yellow fitness equipment and an encouraging team of goal-oriented personal trainers. The capacious gym's sound system blasts energetic jams from the '80s and beyond as exercisers hoist weights or watch TV shows on the 17-inch screens affixed to every cardio machine. Classic flicks such as Grease and Ferris Bueller's Day Off claim screen space in the cardio theater, where guests manufacture sweat by pedaling, jogging, and rewinding hundreds of VHS tapes. Checkerboard pathways venture toward the Retro Blends juice bar with baristas who blend made-to-order fruit smoothies using whey protein and yogurt.