Adrenaline-pumping fitness and thrilling combat come together in Rising Star Fencing Academy's classes. The United States Fencing Association-member studio's lessons are suited to children as young as 6, and every level teaches creative strategy as it hones stamina, agility, and mental discipline. On a long, rectangular dueling area, coaches and students practice the complex foot- and hand-work for all three fencing styles?foil, sabre, and epee?all using the traditional scoring system. This intensive training is possible, in part, because of the academy's rigorous adherence to safety standards: all students are outfitted with a steel mesh mask and clothed in standard-issue force fields.
With a baseball training academy led by MLB player Jack Cust and a softball training center led by Olympian Jennie Finch, Diamond Nation hosts a staff of professional players and coaches who cull their collective NCAA, MLB, and Olympic experience to refine the hitting, pitching, and fielding skills of burgeoning legends. The Jack Cust Baseball Academy and Jennie Finch Softball Academy share a well-equipped space and employ staffers who personalize player instruction.
JCM Baseball Academy fosters the game's future stars under the guidance of owner Justin McKay—an assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University who, in 2012, played a major role in leading the team to its best record since 1994. McKay has recruited a staff of fellow Division I–level coaches and players that, together, run numerous programs and camps throughout the year. The JCM's junior- and high-school camps, for instance, focus on the skills and mechanics required to play each position on the field, and also emphasize the importance of remembering to enjoy the game. The camps unfold at FDU's Naimoli Family Baseball Complex, which features state-of-the-art turf to prevent injuries and rival players from planting poison ivy around second base.
BT Dance Company has a state-of-the-art facility—their two large dance rooms are underlaid with sprung injury-prevention flooring, and there's a professional sound system that pumps out the music. But they know that it's the people that make the studio, and they have an accomplished faculty of trained, patient instructors from diverse backgrounds. These instructors lead a range of classes, teaching the finer points of ballet, tap, hip-hop, acrobatics, and the chicken dance.
Inside Uptown Sports Complex's 16,000-square-foot facility, the cracks of baseball bats, the beats of hip-hop dance classes, and the rallying cries of cheerleaders combine into a constant, energetic din. The complex gives visitors of all ages plenty of outlets for their energy, such as baseball and gymnastics training camps for youngsters and Zumba dance classes for adults. Kids' classes typically take place after school and during the summer; check the class schedule for current class offerings.
ProPlayer Baseball Academy has a Hall of Fame dedicated to former standout students and instructors, many of whom have gone on to have big-league careers. It's a testament to the academy's clout, both as a year-round training facility and as a launching pad to the next level. Inside the 6,000-square-foot, fully turfed facility, coaches lead baseball and softball players aged 7–18 through private lessons, camps, and clinics. Four stationary batting cages let hitters tighten up their swings, and areas for long toss help players stretch their arms without having to cling to the spinning blades of a helicopter. But it's not just the game's budding stars who use these spaces: occasionally current big leaguers visit during the offseason to keep their skills sharp, too.