Having garnered a black belt under the Brazilian tutelage of Renzo Gracie and his family, professional mixed-martial-arts fighter Jamal Patterson mentors students in "The Gentle Art" of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, as well as other martial-arts forms. Whether he and AllStar's coaches are leading women's self-defense seminars, children's anti-bullying classes, or advanced Brazilian jiu-jitsu sessions, they focus on self-reliance and body awareness through the use of fluid motions and poise. Participants in various classes learn movements that stave off attacks without the need for weapons, name-calling, or balloons filled with spoiled milk.
At Duncan Martial Arts, instructor Gregory Duncan carries on his father’s legacy by teaching the Way of the Winds system. The first martial artists to bring ninjutsu to the United States, Gregory’s father, Professor Ronald Duncan, created a system that emphasizes rapid-fire striking patterns, evasive movements, and joint locking. Implementing elements of traditional taijutsu and jujitsu, the Way of the Winds system also includes education in traditional weaponry, such as sais, tonfa, han-bo, nunchakus, and more. Classes help build self-confidence and mental focus as students learn control over their bodies and responses to high-stress situations, such as a stranger approaching them in a dark alley and asking them to name all the vice presidents in alphabetical order. To expand upon the influences of Eastern fitness traditions, the center also offers yoga classes designed to center the mind and strengthen the body.
At Cranford Taekwondo Center, martial arts aren’t just about self-defense; they’re about self-esteem, self-discipline, and building character—though there’s a lot of kicking and punching too. The spacious facility employs experienced black-belt instructors to train children and adults in techniques ranging from footwork and forms to balance and hand-eye coordination. The school is also home to Cranford’s Combat Fitness boot camp, wherein certified instructors use heavy bags, kicking shields, and free weights to tone the body and build endurance.
Fifteen thousand square feet of colorful training equipment beckons to be tumbled upon. That's where the dedicated staff comes in, working with students of all skill levels to build confidence and coordination through gymnastics programs. With classes designed for students between 18 months and 18 years old, gymnastics programs provide a well-rounded curriculum that helps motivate students while honing concentration and basic motor movements.
Classes for tots and kindergarten-age students include practice on obstacle courses, trampolines, balance beams, and tumble tracks. Girls and boys older than 5 1/2 years learn fun and challenging exercises while climbing rock walls, swinging on uneven bars, and attempting to bridle wild pommel horses. Sunburst Gymnastics also offers competitive programs, in which students train for state, regional, and national events.
The Ballpark's 15,000-square-foot indoor baseball facility has been the training ground for regional all-star youth league players and state championship teams since 1999. A team of experienced coaches, led by three-time Star-Ledger Coach of the Year Tony Picaro, teaches fundamentals such as bunting, fielding, and signing autographs while wearing an oversize novelty foam finger. Private and group lessons hone skills after school, and multiday clinics immerse rookies and pros alike in the sport's finer points. Outside class hours, players practice at six public batting cages, a timed home-to-first track, and a pitching mound monitored by radar and off-duty traffic cops. The Ballpark is also a great place to host a birthday party, which include pizza or hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, papers goods, and a free batting cage token.
Hyatt Hills Golf Complex aims to make the game of golf less complicated. The facility exceeds the call of a typical golf venue, incorporating an 18-hole mini golf course, a driving range, and even a restaurant in addition to its nine-hole course. Measuring 3,350 yards from the back tees, the par 36 layout forces players to contend with several shots over water, healthy doses of greenside bunkering, and a pair of long doglegs in holes 2 and 5—both par 5s. Players can also work with Hyatt Hills' roster of PGA professionals for help getting over a scoring hump—a solution that's easier on the conscience than just conveniently forgetting every third stroke.
Whether coaching students as individuals or in a group setting, the certified instructors at the Westfield School of Dance draw from years of teaching and performance experience in their chosen styles. All are specialized in one to three disciplines of dance, and pass on their knowledge through a progressive syllabus in a range of classes. They organize students by skill level, coaching them in tap, jazz, modern dance, Russian ballet, and musical-theatre performance. For more experienced dancers and aspiring professionals, they also conduct work-study programs and student-teacher training. These experiences allow students to work alongside their teachers as well as guest artists to learn new choreography, develop teaching techniques, and uncover the mystery of what really happened that fateful night at Swan Lake.
Throughout the year, students are given the chance to showcase what they've learned in two venues. In the more minimalistic setting of the Black Box, beginner-level students perform original choreographed dance concerts. The annual spring Main Stage show folds novice through advanced dancers into a full-scale production, complete with live musicians, costumes, scenery, and props.