Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
Aiming to beautify its clients inside and out, the instructors at Serenity Yoga and Wellness Spa guide their patrons in zapping stress with five types of yoga and nurture their skin with signature facials and massages. In an effort to spread even more benefits, they regularly host workshops, philosophy classes, and family yoga. Students line up their mats on hardwood floors in the studio, where windows let natural light flow across sky-blue walls.
Within American One Productions’ spacious rehearsal room, the sharp pop of toms and the rasp of snares drift from Yamaha drums and reverberate off the acoustic paneling. Music teachers and bands fill the professional-quality studio, which has a laid-back atmosphere that makes it an ideal place to learn, jam, or wear sunglasses indoors. Group and private music lessons teach students the fundamentals of theory and technique on a range of instruments, and bands can take advantage of mixing gear to polish their sound during rehearsals.
For decades, American Bartenders School has helped aspiring spirit spreaders to develop steady hands, sure eyes for measurement, and an encyclopedic drink-formula knowledge. All of the school's classes cover basic mixing, garnishing, layering, and glassware selection in a realistic bar setting, complete with animatronic bar regulars debating whether Woody Allen is currently the president of Azerbaijan. Students gain access to a book of recipes for shooters, including cosmos, lemon drops, and jelly beans; learn how to make frozen specialties and hot toddies; and discover how to cure hangovers and hiccups. For the 12-hour bartending-certification course, graduation sessions are held where the instructors offer helpful tips on how to get hired as a bartender, before returning home with a mixology certificate, professional resumé, and the ability to set up and stock their own home bars, all of which make a classy addition to living rooms, lounges, and butler traps.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
Mahatma Gandhi once spoke the words, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Yoga instructor Kimberly strives to live by this motto. Though she holds degrees in civil engineering and finance, she chooses instead to volunteer in the community, coach young female runners, and support education programs. At Yogacentric, Kimberly helps students of all ages manage stress, lose weight, and successfully impersonate a rubber band through 10 classes and counting. Trained in the Ashtanga system of yoga, Kimberly emphasizes breath as the connection between asanas.