The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.
As a 4th-degree black belt, Alexander "Soca" Freitas’s fighting resumé is a formidable one. He has won multiple competitions - including the highly prestigious ADCC Championship, where he was also named "Most Technical Fighter" - and is a five-time Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championship winner. He earned his black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr., the son of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s founder, and he spent 25 years mastering the grappling art at the Gracie Barra main academy. Since becoming a teacher himself, Soca has awarded black belts to 24 of his students. However, he doesn't try to force any of his protégés into following his footsteps—instead of matching his impressive accolades with an intimidating attitude, Soca welcomes students of all ages, builds, and abilities to his gym.
Soca leads classes in both beginning and advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques. The martial-arts discipline depends on leverage and holds rather than weapons to subdue opponents, and he demonstrates these maneuvers during practice drills. Students progress through the curriculum by testing to receive successive belts rather than by wrestling a written exam to the ground. Soca ultimately leaves their goals up to them, whether they hope to perfect their self-defense moves, compete in MMA tournaments, or simply engage in healthy exercise. Aside from standard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons, the gym also hosts private classes, children's classes, and strength-and-conditioning sessions, led by co-owner Samantha Freitas.
Dr. Norman Rich, who was valedictorian of his graduating class at NYU College of Dentistry, not only excels at general and cosmetic smile services, but also at making clients feel at ease. He and his staff take care to keep appointments on schedule, preventing any potential anxiety from mounting in a waiting area, and during treatments, patients recline in leather chairs. In addition to routine dental exams, Dr. Rich straightens chompers with Invisalign, tempers clicking jaws with TMJ night guards, brightens teeth with whitening kits, and removes cavities with the sheer force of his mind.
The certified personal trainers at Steel Fitness help clients achieve their health and fitness goals. Personal-training sessions incorporate elements of CrossFit combined with state-of-the-art equipment. After their workout, clients can cool off at the beverage center and enjoy eucalyptus towel service. See the gym's FAQ page for more information.
With personal training, sports nutrition, and even sports hypnotism certifications tucked under his weightlifting belt, Tony DiCostanzo brings more to DreamBodies than a booming voice and admirable biceps. The dedicated fitness coach leads boot campers and personal-training clients through calorie-burning workouts, supplemented with diet tips and what he calls "mind-motivational conditioning," which makes eating healthy an automatic response, rather than a chore. Unlike other training programs, Tony’s DreamBodies also offers an online edition, complete with a consultation over the phone, continuous coaching via e-mail, and custom at-home workouts that forge lasting results and show house pets who's boss.
Barbara Brenseke—a licensed fitness instructor for more than 20 years and a certified Olympic weightlifting sports-performance coach—puts her experience as a competitor in Olympic distance triathlons, marathons, and USTA tennis leagues to use by showing others how to prevent injuries and achieve the sharpest competitive edge possible. Her semiprivate training center constantly maintains a 3:1 client-to-coach ratio, allowing her and her team of impassioned instructors to show clients personalized attention as they prepare them for athletic competitions or guide them toward a lifestyle of health and wellness.
Staffers teach students how to perform optimally, using strength and power in athletic disciplines that range from lacrosse to baseball. They can also help clients sculpt their bodies for non-sports-related hobbies, such as golfing, biking, or building life-size model-train sets. Additionally, they can show students how to chisel away excess poundage with individualized weight, cardio, and nutritional programs.
After a performance of The Nutcracker, Cirque Du Soleil, or the Radio City Rockettes, it’s not uncommon to see the dancers head down to teach a class at Nancy's Dance Factory. Led by Nancy Hayden, the artistic director, the team at Nancy's Dance Factory has been enriching students’ lives with dance for more than 35 years. They specialize in a variety of dance styles, ranging from ballet and tap to tumbling, pointe, hip-hop, and contemporary. Nancy's Dance Factory welcomes boys and girls as young as 2.5 years old.