After a debilitating car accident left Elyissia Wassung’s mother, Barbara, unable to commute to work, she stayed busy in the kitchen, devising her own homemade chocolates. Nine-year-old Elyissia would then load her mother’s sweets into a shopping cart and sell them door-to-door around the neighborhood, learning entrepreneurial skills that would last a lifetime. After leaving a telecom job as an adult, Elyissia returned to selling chocolates by founding 2 Chicks with Chocolate (the other chick being her mom), teaming up with master chocolatier Patrick Coston and lead chocolatier Stephanie Vazquez. The dessert innovators create diverse flavors, such as spiced pear and caramel ganache, s’mores, and hazelnut praline, from scratch with spices and sea salt. Customers can also create their own bars online without venturing into the store, building on a selection of chocolate bases and toppings that range from pistachios to gummy bears. The store also hosts chocolate classes and enlivens parties with chocolate fountains and chocolate tastings.
A dancer since age 6, Dasha Sushko founded Ballroom Dream in 2011 after a successful professional dance career in both Russia and the United States. She and her instructors teach fledgling dancers at ballroom, Latin, and swing classes inside Ballroom Dream’s 4,000-square-foot facility, which features a floating hardwood dance floor. Mirrors help students assess their form during group or private lessons, and on every first and third Friday and fourth Saturday of the month, the studio turns up its professional-grade sound system to let students flaunt their newfound form during social dances. Classes are open to adults as well as kids, who discover dance basics during entertaining classes that help expend youthful energy faster than a feverish baseball-card trading session.
Before earning his black belt from World No Gi Champion Pablo Popovitch, professor Tony Rivera studied the art of Brazilian jujitsu under world-renowned masters and champions for more than 10 years. Now, as head of Brazilian jujitsu at Strategic Combat Academy, he passes those lessons on to beginner and novice fighters with the aid of highly experienced coaches. Through sparring and live drilling, students train for competition in numerous combat styles, including mixed martial arts, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and muay thai.
The facility’s 20’x20’ Everlast ring welcomes bouts of sparring, and pupils grapple and give each other loving bear hugs in the 525-foot cage. The instructors help students improve full nelsons in wrestling classes, whip into fighting form during cardio-conditioning sessions, and learn to use their feet as weapons in kickboxing classes.
The kids program introduces youngsters to many of the same combat arts, elucidating self-defense skills while imparting values including self-discipline and self-confidence.
"In three years, I've never repeated a workout. Who wants to do the same thing over and over again?" said Total Core Fit Camp’s head trainer, Ryan Toth, according to Fighting For Life. The seasoned athlete's creative, constantly varied workouts have drawn more than 400 fitness seekers to his program and earned a feature on News 12's Get Fit Fridays. Amid his studio's pull-up bars, kettlebells, and punching bags, Ryan and his staff of fellow certified trainers lead functional workouts, favoring blasting through total-body movements over working on weight machines or running on treadmills. Ryan’s dedication to fitness seeps into his personal life as well, as you can spot his wife Dori sweating alongside him while their three young children watch and record their critiques.
Ryan and the trainers encourage their students to achieve healthy lifestyles beyond the classroom with nutritional counseling, arming them with custom meal plans, nutrition tips, and wholesome recipes. His online program provides busier patrons with complete at-home workouts, enabling them to bust moves at home or during their manager's long-winded motivational speech at the office.
Since taking over the 17 Thomas Street location in 2005, J. O'Neill's Place owners Jennifer O'Neill and Shannon Lalley have overseen a complete facelift of their restaurant. The most recent update transformed the dining area into a bistro-like space, where romantic lighting casts shadows across sleek hardwood floors. More than just a welcoming ambiance, J. O'Neill's fills bellies, too, including with its fresh fish and shrimp during its popular Fish Fry Fridays.