"A black belt is just a white belt who never quit," say the encouraging senseis of Leclerc's Martial Arts. Masters of the Korean fighting art of tang soo do, which melds the traditions of shotokan karate, subak, taekkyon, and kung fu, Leclec's teaching tactics don't just instill students from ages 3.5 and up with defense skills. They also boost discipline, concentration, and moral, which make disciples crave new pants to match their ascending belt colors, and fuels them with desire to join their tournament teams. That positive attitude permeates all of their martial arts and cardio kickboxing classes, in which adults and children achieve their weight-loss goals and bond over their new-found flexibility.
Named for its setting at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge, Ridgeview Stables invites students to mount a horse and enjoy brisk rides through the leafy dens that it calls home. Riders as young as 3 participate in lessons under the care of owners Neal and Cynthia Mercier, who expose their students to not only English and Western riding but also the equally important aspects of proper horsemanship, care, and history. The well-rounded focus prepares riders young and old for a lifetime of sound riding and love for the sport, whether participating in horse shows or just sauntering along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs directly through the facility.
Stretched across 79 acres in Pleasant Valley, Meadow Creek Farm equips students with the skills necessary to become well-rounded horsemen. The full-service English riding stable conducts fun, creative private and group lessons, during which students learn not only how to ride, but also how to groom and tack horses. The facility's spacious turnout?complete with large paddocks and rippling grass fields?provides the ideal learning environment. But should inclement weather strike, Meadow Creek boasts an indoor arena, too, where horses will not be tempted to catch snowflakes on their tongues.
The National Guard bestows awards on him. The Hudson Valley Horrors, a roller derby team, beat a path to his dojo to train and learn how to more effectively lambaste their opponents. The city of Fishkill had to change its name from Tons of Fishville, after he gave a cross look to the river system. His name is Master Robert S. Blum, and he's the chief instructor at Just For Kicks Martial Arts. Together with his team of black belt and US national champions, he teaches a self-defense curriculum that emphasizes the importance of an active lifestyle, respecting others, and becoming a productive member of society. To ensure that more than just fist and kick combos were getting through to trainees, Blum enlisted the help of child psychologist Dr. Robyn Silverman to develop the life skills portion of the program. Within the Just For Kicks studio, Robert and his crew train preschoolers, kids, teens, and adults. To practice their strikes, students unleash their uppercuts and roundhouses on focus mitts and Wave Master standup punching bags. In these sessions, budding martial artists get the same instruction that instructors have imparted to baseball players from the Hudson Valley Renegades, guards at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, and officers from the local police department. His programs have garnered the Century Gold Award every year since 2007, which recognizes excellence in martial arts instruction. To practice the same community-minded message he preaches, Robert runs programs for groups such as the local Boy and Girl Scout troops and supports charities that include Project Action (Juvenile Crime Prevention) and the American Cancer Society.
Having promoted more than 300 students to the rank of black belt, Master Peter Antonelli knows how to recognize and develop a person's martial-arts skills. At Hudson Valley Karate, he and his staff draw from both tradition and progressive teachings to build a karate curriculum that caters to all experience levels. Adult classes cover choke holds and aggressive strikes, and are restricted to a small size so that instructors can devote their attention to individuals. Children's karate classes have a dual focus: form and character. They build social and leadership skills alongside self-defense movements, training kids to be confident in a variety of real-world settings. The studio also offers kickboxing fitness sessions, which tone muscle through rapid-fire punching and kicking drills.
East Fishkill Golf Center's 26-acre, multisport facility awakens the sportsmanship of every visitor regardless of age or athletic prowess. The grounds cater to ball-strikers of all stripes, whether protecting the strike zone in 1 of the 11 batting-cage stalls, avoiding the waterfalls and elevation changes on the 19-hole miniature-golf course, or aiming for displaced UFOs on the 35-stall lighted driving range. A 12,000-square-foot indoor facility carpeted with astroturf houses a regulation softball infield complete with pitching mounds and a spectator viewing area.