Ken Benshish and Yi Qian both grew up loving music, but the process of learning to play it ranged from uninspiring to mind numbing. The two musicians started iSchool of Music & Art to provide a much different experience—a positive, supportive atmosphere that takes into account each student’s personality and goals. Students aged 3 and older who can’t tell a drumstick from a plectrum and don’t even know the street value of a quarter note can learn piano, drums, guitar, or voice skills from scratch, then test their newfound skills with multiple performance opportunities throughout the year. Instructors host private classes or group students into their own rock-band performance troupes, while intensive camps culminate in field trips to Lincoln Center and tour of a real recording studio.
For 15 years, Sky Athletic Club has shepherded members to physical fitness inside a 20,000-square-foot workout sanctuary free from muscle-obsessed fanatics or intimidating drill sergeants. The gym's mission of accessible-to-all fitness earned it the 2011 Best Boot Camp on Long Island award from the Long Island Press. More than 40 certified personal trainers coach members on two floors of studios and exercise equipment, and visitors from across the age and ability spectrum scout through a schedule of more than 100 classes per week.
A ladies-only area accommodates feminine frames with a weight room and floor space for mat work, and an extensive Pilates program perches members aboard Reformer machines that get cores more tightly wound than a stressed-out slinky in a private studio. Patrons augment their weight-hoisting routines with pampering spa services, getting chi realigned by a certified acupuncturist or working out tension with a chair massage. Complimentary childcare and free steamy beverages from the lounge and café evince the club's hospitable mission.
For more than a decade, the classes at HotYoga4You Rockville Centre have helped practitioners stretch out over the course of 90 minutes. But, in the fast-paced world of yoga instruction, tradition is secondary to innovation. Responding to the popular demands of their students, the center's instructors now offer a brand-new 60-minute version of their signature class. The hour-long classes include the same poses and breathing as their 90-minute counterparts. By shaving off the excess 30 minutes, instructors save their students some precious time, which they can then use for important business such as picking the kids up from soccer practice or building a scale replica of the soccer stadium out of old game programs.
Revolution Yoga’s crew of yogis espouses the virtues of self-exploration through movement and meditation, a feat accomplished in 17 different types of yoga classes held seven days a week. Classes are held in full-sized classrooms or a space set aside exclusively for families and kids. Unlike many yogis, the teachers look beyond yoga and napping inside armoires to fully explore the scope of self, turning to community and arts to supplement their teachings.
Behind the studio stands Revolution Gallery, which has hosted paintings, mixed media design shows, films, literature, and musical performances. The staff also runs an artisan boutique, which is full of clothing, herbal supplements, and yoga gear—all manufactured from fair-trade products that provide jobs to unemployed trees and shrubs.
Blue Firmament Holistic Center's services span from health-spa treatments to classes and workshops, all of which strive to bolster corporal and mental serenity. Lessons on yoga and dance—including Zumba fitness, belly dancing, and pole dancing—lead physiques into sinuous routines that augment strength and flexibility. Other group events might include drumming performances or meditation seminars, and tarot card and candle readings, when held simultaneously, predict upcoming poker table fires. Different massage modalities can also reduce muscular tension as they knead away stress.
The center places great emphasis on natural pathways to wellness, prepping its spa procedures and juice bar with exclusively organic ingredients. On weekends, guests can munch on uncooked meals from Maggie's Raw Love Cafe to avoid raspberries from burnt tongues.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
Members of Synergy Fitness Clubs thrive on choice. Choice of location? There are nine. Choice of activity? Instructors lead classes in almost any form of exercise imaginable, such as power sculpt, full-body circuits, and intense cycling. To make sure that members are making the choices that will help reach their fitness goals the fastest, the clubs are staffed with more than 100 lifestyle coaches. These pros are continually educated in their fields of specialty—which might mean nutrition counseling, yoga, or boxing.
A wide slate of equipment and amenities makes it as easy as possible to fit in workouts. Most locations are open 24 hours, and while parents lift free weights or dance a beautiful tango with a Precor elliptical, their kids can hang out in a free childcare room.