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.
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.
What began as eight racquetball courts in 1978 has grown into a family fitness center housing exercise machines, group classes, indoor pools, volleyball, basketball, and a smoothie bar. Penfield Fitness and Racquet Club members make use of an endless supply of free weights and Technogym or Life Fitness cardio equipment equipped with TVs for personal viewing.
A team of trainers leads 99 group fitness classes each week, such as Zumba dance aerobics, Pilates, and yoga as well as nationwide programs including Les Mills and SilverSneakers. In keeping with their heritage, trainers host racquetball lessons, leagues, and tournaments for adults and children. Members can take advantage of free childcare services and cool off after workouts at the club’s onsite smoothie bar instead of attempting to somersault into a passing ice-cream truck.
Canoes float under a sunny sky, kayakers speed along lush riverbanks, and standup paddleboards engage core muscles in adrenaline-pumping workouts. With dozens of watercraft for rent and sale, BayCreek Paddling Center's team brings aquatic adventures like these to life. Their staff members, which range from young enthusiasts to 30-year industry veterans, launch customers into Irondequoit Creek, where they can float amid an orchestra of bird songs and opera-trained fish. In addition to rentals, the staff guide activities. Aboard their various watercraft, ACA and BCU instructors lead lessons and nature tours that wind through glacier-carved terrain and former Seneca Native American lands.