In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years.
Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts with group and private lessons in their 4,000-square-foot ballroom nestled in the picturesque farmlands of Hunterdon County. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Tots can get in on the trotting action as well with the studio’s specialized dance program for kids and teens. For adults who want to two-step their way to fitness, the instructors lead Zumba's easy-to-follow Latin moves and Core Rhythm's ab-sculpting maneuvers.
Former Radio City Rockette Kim Helfrich extends her love for dance to youngsters with Broadway Bound Dance. She and her fellow dancers lead a variety of classes, starting with Broadway Beginnings for children as young as 18 months old. Dance styles include ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz, and modern.