When Marina Lisser was 14, she decided to take up dancing, despite the fact that in her native Russia, she was considered much too old to start. Firmly flouting social convention, she thrived, competing at the professional level and landing a fifth-place finish in the European Cup finals. Eventually, she went on to earn a master's degree in Dance Forms and write a dissertation on the psychology of competition.
But none of that prepared her for the shock that awaited her when she landed in New York City to work for Fred Astaire Dance Studios in 1993. She hadn't realized she'd be teaching a totally new kind of student: adult amateurs. She'd only taught professionals and children who wanted to dance for a living. If 14 was too old to start dancing in Russia, how would she teach adults in America?
Through trial and error, she figured it out by ignoring, according to a feature in Democrat and Chronicle, whatever holds her students back. "I'm one of those horrible Russian teachers," Marina confessed. "We want what we want; there is no such thing as limits."
Today, she and her staff of instructors specialize in two styles: American Smooth and Rhythm, and International Standard and Latin. Students learn to waltz, tango, and foxtrot atop the ballroom's sprung wood floor, which cushions feet and joints, while wall-length mirrors help them self-correct their form. In addition to teaching social dance skills and helping affianced couples prepare for their first dance, the instructors also ready competitive dancers to take first place medals in everything from cabaret dancing to swing, often by deftly prancing over the laser security systems that guard them. Marina is certified in dance therapy, as well as social and competitive wheelchair dancing, to make dance accessible to everyone.
Groove Juice Swing's nine multitalented dance instructors, many of whom also play instruments, have spent more than a decade helping novice dancers sharpen their rug-cutting skills during private and group classes, which focus on Jazz Age and swing-era styles. In their quest to master the art of swing, students shuffle their feet through three levels of dance classes that build on one another, beginning with level-one classes covering the basics. Level-two classes, which focus on the lindy hop, teach participants to float on air as if they were standing on a floor of industrial fans, and level-three classes delve into more advanced techniques, such as doing the Charleston with a partner.
Outside of Groove Juice Swing––located at Tango Cafe’s dance studio––passersby can hear jazzy tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Nina Simone emanating from lively dance classes held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. Aside from classes, students can flaunt freshly learned skills during Groove Juice Swing’s annual Stompology workshop or events with live bands hosted by dance experts Steven Mitchell and Virginie Jensen.
Helmed by two professional dancers and a martial artist with a second-degree black belt in karate, the certified instructors at Bounce Aerobics strive to infuse each of their classes with a party-like atmosphere. They lead guests of all ages and abilities through high-energy moves in a variety of weight-lifting- and dance-based fitness classes. When they're not disguising aerobic exercises as easy-to-follow dance moves in hip-hop, Zumba, and dance fitness classes, they slow the pace down in body-and-spirit rejuvenating yoga and Pilates classes.
Their studio encompasses an urban atmosphere reminiscent of Manhattan's downtown feel. This loft-like space is outfitted with brick walls, faux streetlights, and a lifelike subway car, as well as a full-length mirror to confirm that the instructor is not actually King Kong. In the onsite boutique, friendly staff members help shoppers pick out exercise gear and gym bags from Zumba, Turbo, and Bounce Aerobics' own line.
When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first Athletic Club in Buffalo in 1980, they chartered their gym around three values: service, cleanliness, and having owners operate their own facilities. True to the founders’ original vision, each of the Rochester locations' employees strive to keep their cardio and resistance equipment spic and span as they care for facilities that range of up to 30,000 square feet. In addition to personal training, instructors lead more than 400 group fitness classes—including cycling, yoga, and Zumba—offered each week across their five locations. After workouts, guests can slip into saunas and private showers; most locations also have steam rooms, and the Perinton location has a pool. Three of the RAC locations are for women only, allowing them to workout uninhibited by the company of men or asexual mermaids.
Soon after Rochester Optical was founded in 1932, the staff established contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense to supply the armed forces with durable, combat-ready glasses. Today, they continue to specialize in military eyewear, along with high-performance sports and safety glasses and a huge selection of designer frames. A team of optometrists—which includes a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, a fifth-generation Rochesterian, and an eye doctor who has worked at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salem, Virginia—performs comprehensive eye exams, and technicians manufacture lenses in an in-house, state-of-the-art optical lab. In addition to traditional single-vision lenses or no-line bifocals, they create digitally surfaced, free-form lenses that offer an expanded field of vision and minimize image distortion, allowing wearers to more clearly see apparitions standing next to them.
While everyone knows that a custom suit will fit better and last longer than something off the rack, not many people apply this logic to their bicycles. Bike Zone is working to correct this view by eschewing one-size-fits-all bikes in favor of cycles that are each built to its rider’s body type and intended usage. Staff begin by measuring clients for the correct frame and then adjust the seat and handlebars until each component is as comfortable and easy to control as possible. Clients can also test ride and compare any of the shop’s Raleigh, Trek, and Felt models, each of which has been expertly assembled by an in-store mechanic instead of by North Pole elves.
Bike Zone also specializes in repairs for all brands of bikes, and mechanics can be found manning six separate repair stations any time of day. Each new bicycle bought in the store comes with a free tune-up, and the shop also accepts trade-ins for bike-shop-quality bikes that are in good working order.