Category: Featured Business

Feature: Jersey City Ballroom, at The Brunswick Center

Whether it’s just to have fun and be comfortable on the dance floor or putting together a showcase number:

Jersey City Ballroom

Ever since they were kids, dance partners and Jersey City Ballroom owners Werner Figar and Shimkiri Sawian-Figar have loved to dance. 

Figar, who started as a gymnast, was inspired after watching Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing” to try dance. Sawian-Figar, on the other hand, was glued to the small screen, watching “America’s Ballroom Challenge” and dreaming of leaving her tap and ballet shoes behind.

Today, their dreams have come true. Sawian-Figar is the undefeated Edison Ballroom Champion, Vice-Champion of the N.J. Open Rising Star Latin and has been a finalist in many U.S. competitions. Figar, on the other hand, is a three-time Austrian Champion, has been on “Dancing With the Stars Austria” and has been one of the top 30 professional international Latin dancers in the world.

While they’re proud of their accomplishments, Sawian-Figar says the most rewarding part of ballroom dancing is — well, it’s fun!

“The great thing about ballroom dancing is that it takes all of the fun things about moving with music and adds a social element because you dance with other people on the dance floor!” said Sawian-Figar. “Dancing promotes happiness through movement — who doesn’t feel happier moving to their favorite song?”

While they’re proud of their accomplishments, Sawian-Figar says the most rewarding part of ballroom dancing is — well, it’s fun!

Now, the pair wants to help others have fun and find their passion for dance. 

At Jersey City Ballroom, dancers of all ages and skill levels can either take group classes or receive private one-on-one instruction. Not sure which you like? First-time students can get a 2-for-1 deal and try both formats to find the right fit.

“We believe that everyone can dance and that dancing makes life better. We offer the highest quality instruction for all ages, from young children to adults, and all levels, from absolute beginners to very advanced dancers,” said Sawian-Figar. 

Learn traditional ballroom dance styles like the waltz, tango and foxtrot, as well as Latin styles like salsa and jive

“We enjoy helping people achieve their dance goals, whether it’s just to have fun and be comfortable on the dance floor or putting together a showcase number,” she said, adding that as a married couple, they also have a soft spot for couples learning a first dance for their weddings.

She adds that students will be able to learn traditional ballroom dance styles like the waltz, tango and foxtrot, as well as Latin styles like salsa and jive.

“Our favorite dance style is Latin! We love the rhythm and we like how versatile this style is, you can adapt it to a lot of different music and make it suit your personality,” said Sawian-Figar.

Overall, Sawian-Figar says their focus is on making the experience rewarding for their students.

“We really strive to help our students feel comfortable dancing so they can enjoy it more, but we also like to stretch their boundaries so that they can achieve something better, perhaps a new dance move that they never thought they could do,” she said. “It’s also great for fitness because you’re constantly moving and on your feet and as you dance, you feel a sense of community with your fellow students.”

“Our favorite dance style is Latin!”

Jersey City Ballroom is a perfect fit for the Brunswick Center as well as the community overall, she adds. 

“We love being part of the Brunswick Center! We really support the idea of having a central location that you can go to for wellness and fitness. Also, it’s the first of its kind in Jersey City and as we’re also the first ballroom and Latin studio, that really resonates with us!”

“We really strive to help our students feel comfortable dancing so they can enjoy it more, but we also like to stretch their boundaries so that they can achieve something better, perhaps a new dance move that they never thought they could do.”

“Dancing makes life better!”

For more information, visit

Feature: Power-House Pilates, at The Brunswick Center

Clients can get personal instruction and support as they build their flexibility, strength and fitness:

Power-House Pilates

It can be hard to get a workout on the East Coast without being jammed into cramped classes at busy big box gyms. At Power-House Pilates, however, clients can get personal instruction and support as they build their flexibility, strength and fitness.

Owners Risa Harris and Morwen Banq met while working at a Manhattan-based studio and bonded over their love of the fitness system, which uses concentration, control, centering, flow of movement, precision and breathing.

Harris and Banq, who both have a dance background, said they first started using Pilates as a way to supplement their dance training and improve their dancing abilities. But you don’t have to be a ballerina to do Pilates, they say.

“Pilates is great for everybody — people who are sick or people with injuries; younger people, older people,” said Banq. “There’s so many variations and modifications to the exercise…everybody can benefit from it.


Harris agreed, adding, “The goal with Pilates is full-body strength training with a big focus on core strength.


“It’s really great or people with back pain, preventing injury, helping people have much better posture and overall just making people feel much better,” she said. “It makes people feel really good and helps them get in better shape using an exercise program they can sustain for the rest of their lives.”

Both say they are committed to making Pilates a more personal experience, with Harris saying she wants to “make people feel really cared for.”

“We just want to offer personalized Pilates instruction in classes that are really small, with up to 4 people, and private sessions,” said Harris. 

Banq says they will also offer tantric Pilates and Mommy-and-Me classes for new moms and their newborn babies. Clients can pay per session, or purchase packages.

“…you don’t have to be a ballerina to do Pilates.”

“It’s really great for people with back pain, preventing injury, helping people have much better posture and overall just making people feel much better.”

Banq, who lives in the Powerhouse Arts District (which coincidentally shares its name with the Pilates term for the body’s core and the pair’s studio), said she’s excited to bring their new business to a booming area like Jersey City.

“There are so many people moving here and I think it’s going to be a good addition to the neighborhood,” said Banq. “When I first moved here six years ago, it was just starting to change. Before, people were living in Jersey City and going to the city to work, but now they’re staying in JC and we’re seeing more fitness places opening.


Harris is particularly excited about joining other fitness-related businesses at the Brunswick Center.

“It’s nice to not feel isolated and feel a sense of community,” she said. “I think it can only be a positive thing to be around other like-minded people who are also in the fitness industry and to just feed off each other’s energy.”

“…an exercise program they can sustain for the rest of their lives.”


For more information, visit

Feature: FreedOM Therapeutics, at The Brunswick Center

Where therapeutic massage and yoga are combined, to refresh oneself both physically and mentally:

FreedOM Therapeutics


Working 65 to 70 hours a week in the retail industry, Oneika Mays found herself constantly stressed, tired and aching. That is, until she found yoga.

Today, the longtime Jersey City resident has long left the world of retail behind and is a licensed massage therapist, yoga teacher and owner of FreedOM Therapeutics.

“When people first get on my table, I have them take a moment and breathe so they have a sense of awareness. Then we do a gentle body scan, face-up or face-down, which gives them a chance to bring themselves into this moment,” said Mays.

“Using yoga and meditation in conjunction with massage gets people inspired and helps them set their mind on self-healing.”

Mays, who has taught yoga to everyone from cancer patients to prisoners on Rikers Island, says therapeutic massage and yoga combined allow her clients to refresh themselves both physically and mentally. In the case of her patients with athletic injuries, she says they can even heal faster with her help.

“Working with stretches is such a different way to explore therapeutics than statically lying on a table — You just feel more moved.”

She tailors each 60- to 90-minute session for each client. Some of her patients just opt for yoga, others for just massage, and for several, her winning combo of both.

“Some people like to do therapeutic postures before moving onto the table, or even stretches with a yoga feel on the table,” she said. “Working with stretches is such a different way to explore therapeutics than statically lying on a table. You just feel more moved!”

Being in the Brunswick Center also adds to the experience, she says.

“It’s amazing. The energy in this space just feels so good — there are people doing spin, kickboxing and even capoeira! Everyone is so community-oriented and it’s just such a friendly place,” she said, adding that the center is one of the most fantastic community resources in the Village neighborhood and Jersey City overall.

“There is an explosion happening in Jersey City that is absolutely incredible, especially with local businesses that have a wellness spin,” said Mays. “It feels like the time is right to be here. It’s great to see how Jersey City has blossomed into a great place for people to live and now, work.”

For more information, visit FreedOM Therapeutics.

Feature: Max Challenge Fitness, To The Max

Health and wellness is a family affair for David and Sean Collins, the father-and-son team behind Jersey City’s first Max Challenge Fitness location.

David, who lives in Scotch Plains, grew up in Jersey City and is also a pharmacist at a Newark Avenue drug store. His wife is a nurse, and his son Sean has been a personal trainer for five years.

But the Collinses didn’t get into the Max Challenge until David’s niece Amanda Ramchandani and her husband Dinesh told them about the 10-week fitness and nutrition program.

“My niece is allergic to a lot of things and Dinesh was overweight, but he lost around 25 pounds through the program,” said David. “And what really captured them was the community atmosphere in the gym. It’s a family atmosphere and everyone exchanges cell phone numbers, go out to eat…it’s a whole big community.”

Sean added that the program is a refreshing change from the big-box gym model that he says isn’t enough to help people make quick but lasting lifestyle changes.

“At big box gyms we didn’t offer enough to people to help them see the results they wanted. Even if you came twice a week, that’s not enough, and if they don’t have nutritional counseling they won’t be seeing those results,” said Sean.


Inspired by the Ramchandanis, who now run three Max Challenge Fitness locations in other parts of New Jersey, the Collins family decided to bring the franchise to JC.

Clients who sign up for the 10-week program get fitness classes up to five days a week as well as nutritional counseling and support.

“All you have to do is show up and do what the trainer says. They’re 45-minute workouts that are fun, either everyone cheering everyone one,” said Sean. “And it’s all at a much lower price than if you went to hire a personal trainer and nutritionist, which could run you thousands of dollars.”

After the 10 weeks, clients can continue in a month-to-month program as legacy members.

“It’s really a lifetime transformation,” said David. “Our family has always been in healthcare, so this captured everything into one big capsule for us.”

Being at the Brunswick Center is also poignant for David, who attended elementary school when the location was home to Holy Rosary.

“My whole family–me, my two brothers and my three sisters–all went to that school. It’s kind of weird seeing it as commercial studios and remembering the principal’s office and stuff, but it’s perfect,” said David.

“It’s a great space as far as the vibe and it’s philosophy is perfect for our business–it’s people coming together to create a healthy community. Everyone walking in wants to make healthy improvements in their life and that’s what we’re all about.”


For more information, visit

Feature: Jersey City Kickboxing, at The Brunswick Center

At this gym, students are more than students — they’re family:

Jersey City Kickboxing


Jersey City Kickboxing owner Paul Clark says that at his gym, students are more than students — they’re family.

Kids, teens and adults who take classes at the gym don’t just get healthy and fit or train to compete, they also get to bond with Clark, his staff and each other.

For instance, Assistant Trainer Anna Gizulewski tutors some of her younger students and helps them with their homework and several of the gym members get together a couple times a month to see boxing matches.

“I want to get involved in my students’ lives and care about them,” said Clark. “It’s a relaxed environment here…we have a lot of parents and kids who train together. We also have many at-risk teens who come in after school and it gives us a chance to help them out.”

Clark’s family approach is partially inspired by how he got his own start in muay thai while growing up in Atlanta.

“My dad basically started me when I was four years old, so I’ve been doing it for 31 years now,” he said. “I had to do kickboxing every day, most times twice a day. I’ve competed both nationally and internationally, and trained over the past five years going back and forth to Thailand.”

Clark fell in love with the sport because it allowed him to push himself to new heights.

“I like that it keeps you young and healthy, and gives you a healthy respect for yourself and other people as well as self-confidence that you know you earned because no one did it for you,” he said. “It’s like learning the guitar — you have to put the work in yourself.”

As a coach at his own gym, Clark says he helps his students get those same benefits, as well as accomplish their personal goals.

“There are people who want to lose weight and just study the basics and do exercises to get in shape. I had one couple who lost 100 pounds a piece and over 60 people who lost over 30 pounds in three to six months.

“I also have some younger people in their mid-20s to early-30s who spar and train very hard, but are also working professionals, so they’re not interested in competing but do it to get in shape and get out aggression. And then we also have adults and teens who compete all over the New Jersey-New York area,” he said.

In all his classes, Clark tries to stay faithful to the martial art’s origins.

“…it keeps you young and healthy, and gives you a healthy respect for yourself and other people as well as self-confidence that you know you earned because no one did it for you.”

“It’s like learning the guitar — you have to put the work in yourself.”

“One thing really different about my gym is that I really strive for (teaching) muay thai boxing like they do in Thailand, in regards to the environment and what you learn, we’re different from other martial arts. We don’t wear uniforms and bow to each other; we have a family atmosphere,” he said, adding that they’ve also even gone to Thailand to train at a traditional camp in Bangkok and explore Thai culture.

For Clark, the gym’s family dynamic is much like that of the Brunswick Center and Downtown Jersey City in general.

“It helps to know who your neighbors are. We support each other, watch out for each other’s businesses and watch out for each other’s kids. It’s nice.”


For more information, visit

Feature: Jersey City Ballet, at The Brunswick Center

With a pre-dance program for kids ages 3 to 6, ballet classes starting at age 7 and adult classes for curious beginners; for former dancers returning to the art or professionals honing their skills:

Jersey City Ballet


Since she was a child, Judith Elins, Director of Jersey City Ballet, has been dancing “literally nonstop,” starting out at local dance studios in Irvington and Union, N.J., and eventually making her way to New York City. There, she worked with teachers and instructors who inspired her to pursue a career in dance.

“When I’m dancing, it’s the one time my mind is completely and I just get immersed in the whole process,” said Elins. “I love music and movement. When you’re dancing, that’s all you’re thinking about for that moment, and it’s a great feeling.”

Now, Elins is helping others free their minds and dance nonstop — or rather, learn nonstop.

At Jersey City Ballet, Elins and four other teaching artists work with dancers of all ages to provide them with ongoing dance education.

“This is not a place where you walk in, we say, ‘This is your recital dance,’ and you work on it all year and then come back to work on another dance,” explained Elins. “There’s value in that for sure, but this is a place where people can come in and out, take classes and learn. Whether a child just wants to audition for a college program or be involved in community theater, or wants to become a professional, we give you the tools to get to that level.”

They start ’em young, with a pre-dance program for kids ages 3 to 6, and ballet classes starting at age 7. In the double-digits? No problem. Jersey City Ballet also offers adult classes for curious beginners, former dancers returning to the art form or for professionals looking to improve their skills.

Eventually, Elins hopes for her students and other established dancers to form a ballet company and the Jersey City Ballet Theater, which she envisions bringing JC national recognition for its art scene.

“When I first moved here, I didn’t see many families or a huge artist community but I’ve watched it grow in the past 13 years,” said Elins, who lives in the Hamilton Park neighborhood, just a stone’s throw away from Brunswick Center.

Whether a child just wants to audition for a college program or be involved in community theater, or wants to become a professional, Jersey City Ballet gives you the tools to get to that level.

Dance — or rather: Learn nonstop

“Families are staying and putting down roots here and in the neighborhood there’s a big sense of community, and a lot of great programs in the area,” she said. “We don’t have to travel to Manhattan for quality arts education.”

Being part of a micro-community at the Brunswick Center, she added, makes Jersey City Ballet even stronger.

“I like the energy of being up here with all these different businesses,” said Elins. “I’m very much a collaborator so I love that there are other people to talk to and share ideas with.”


For more information, visit

Feature: IronPlate Studios, at The Brunswick Center

Strength and personal training, weight loss, physique transformation, sports nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and meal planning — all in a private and motivating setting:

IronPlate Studios


As the owner of IronPlate Studios, a fitness and nutrition studio with locations in Jersey City’s Brunswick Center and in Hoboken, Kristin Reisinger says many people assume she’s always been super fit. Growing up, however, Reisinger says she wasn’t happy with her body.

“In my teens and 20s, I was never skinny,” she said. “It wasn’t until I met a pro bodybuilder who turned me on to competing that I learned about training and nutrition’s integral roles in changing the shape of our bodies. 

”It increased my confidence, made me feel empowered and made me feel better overall with everything I did on a daily basis, even in my interpersonal relationships. It leaks into all facets of life.”

She shed the pounds and competed in NPC Figure competitions and was eventually so intrigued by fitness and health that she left her career in the music industry to become a personal trainer and registered dietician. In the 17 years since, Reisinger says she’s helped many others transform their own bodies and lives.

When demand grew too high for her private training sessions, Reisinger opened a studio at the Monroe Center for the Arts in Hoboken. Eventually, she outgrew that, too, hiring three other personal trainers including her right-hand woman Caitlin Harrington. And now, Reisinger has her sights set on JC.

On their first visit to IronPlate Studios, clients get a tour of the fitness center and undergo an assessment so the training staff can make them a personalized training and nutrition plan. One-on-one training sessions are available, as are small group sessions. Nutritional consultations also come a la carte.

This isn’t a place that throws diet drinks or products at the problem, Reisinger says, but a program that helps people make the right life choices for them.

”We talk with each client about their goals and make a plan for them. It’s different for everybody–the frequency that they come in, how much they need to work outside the studio and whether they need nutritional guidance,” said Reisinger.

At IronPlate Studios, we believe that training and nutrition TOGETHER are the key to your health and fitness. If you fuel your body properly and train smart, you can be the best version of YOU there is. And we believe you can do this simply without gimmicks, fad diets and ineffective, unsustainable cleanses.

Eat Clean, Train Hard. There is no magic bullet.

IronPlate specializes in bridal, pre- and post-natal fitness and also helps clients of all ages with various weight or health problems.

“Everyone who comes in usually has some kind of issue whether its knee problems due to weight or they might be on blood pressure medication like one of my clients who was only in his late 30s but weighed about 240,” she said. “He’s probably about 180 now after one-and-a-half years and his doctors are thinking of taking him off the medication.

”We want our clients to do well with weight loss and other things like their confidence and health,” she added. 

”We make an impact–we help people learn to exercise properly and make better choices with their diets. We want them to feel like their best selves. We want to help people learn to take care of themselves in a healthful way.”

“The longtime Jersey City resident says she’s also excited to be part of the fitness community at the Brunswick Center.

” I was looking at another location but when I heard about what was going on here, I signed the lease in two days,” she said. “I love Jersey City and I’m pretty emotionally attached to it. I think what we’re doing here is a great thing.”


For more information, visit

Feature: Doody Free Girl, at the Brunswick Center

Poop. Caca. Doody. Whatever you call it, Jen Gonzalez — better known as Doody Free Girl — is ready to help you better flush it out of your system.


While many blush at the topic, Gonzalez has no problem talking about the bathroom issues she says many of us face.

”We don’t eat natural foods, we’re eating processed foods that our body doesn’t recognize as food. The food is sticking to our walls and we’re not digesting it properly. We’re experiencing stomach troubles, reflux, diarrhea and constipation — as a society, we’re very constipated,” said Gonzalez frankly. “You have to make sure you’re regular on some level.”

The solution? Eating and egesting cleaner, she says. To help people cleanse their systems, Gonzalez provides colonic services using a natural, non-pressurized method of colon hydrotherapy.

”We use the gravity method, which is 100% natural and just uses an elevated tank of water. We use filtered water and cleanse the large intestine, or colon, where toxins and waste stores up to keep things moving,” Gonzalez explained.

doodyfreegirl-feature 2

Gonzalez first discovered colonics while looking for an effective diet. She found a raw vegetarian diet coupled with regular colonics helped her not just keep the weight off, but also keep her body feeling refreshed.

Fascinated by the idea of detoxing and cleansing, Gonzalez started a bowel health blog and studied nutrition and colonics. Now, she helps people — especially women — address their colon needs.

”I realized most of my clients were female. They weren’t going to the bathroom when they had to go; they hold it in,” said Gonzalez. 

”I want people to know it’s OK to talk about it. And girls can bond over it — you know you’re a good friend when you can talk about poop — but most of all, there’s an underlying health issue. You can’t be healthy if you’re not eliminating.”

In addition to offering colonics, Doody Free Girl also sells bathroom and colon health products including novelty items like natural air freshener Poopourri (“I want to be the one-stop poop shop,” said Gonzalez with a laugh.)

They’ve even got fresh grab-n-go food and juices prepared by a personal chef specializing in clean, healthy foods.

”It’s important to eat a little cleaner than normal during the day of treatment to make sure you can digest properly,” explained Gonzalez.

Gonzalez added that she’s excited to be in a health-conscious community like the Brunswick Center and in Downtown Jersey City. The former Williamsburg resident said her friends back in Brooklyn call JC “the next borough” and she can see why.

“I quickly fell in love with the location and the idea of the Brunswick Center. I have a whole new appreciation for the town and I’m in love with it,” she said. “I feel like it’s headed in a good direction and it’s exciting.”


For more information, visit

Feature: The Brunswick School of Jersey City


Before the Brunswick Center, Seventh and Brunswick was home to Holy Rosary, a traditional Catholic school that educated hundreds of Jersey City residents through the years.

And while the location now hosts many fitness, health and wellness-oriented businesses, its legacy of educating JC’s youth continues, first with the Brunswick School, a pre-school for children from 6 months old to Kindergarten.

Owner Jillian Hernandez and director Erin Van Horn say they’re well aware of the history of their new school’s digs.

“So many adults who are born and raised in Jersey City and have strong ties here have come up to us and said, ‘That was my school,'” said Hernandez. “They would talk my ear off with all these stories about nuns and the church and they were excited to see what we’re doing with the center and keeping the integrity of the school as a school.”

Hernandez says they will use up to 10 classrooms in the former school, including some partitioned into music or technology enrichment centers. They hope to have up to 150 students and 20 to 25 staff members including teachers, receptionists and chefs (no nuns, though).

While the Brunswick School is, in some ways, continuing a tradition, it’s also innovating and providing a curriculum that Downtown Jersey City parents can get behind.

“I think it’s extremely important to do a good job developing children at a young age — a child’s brain really develops in the first three years of life,” explained Hernandez.

The Brunswick School focuses on core education but also places emphasis on more creative activities. For example, kids at the school learn visual art, music and dance and can also take yoga and Spanish classes.

“We want children to learn without realizing they’re learning and just having fun,” said Hernandez. “Our curriculum provides creativity in a structured format…children at this age thrive on routine and structure, and we’re providing it, but it in a way that makes learning fun for them.”

Hernandez says they’re also particularly sensitive to parents’ needs. The entire program runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate early drop-off and late pick-up and includes meals prepared in a state-of-the-art kitchen. Parents can also choose between different day packages depending on how many days they want their kids to be at school.

“It’s really exciting to see all the businesses here with art, dance, music and fitness,” said Hernandez. “We’ve already gotten so much great feedback from people.

“We’re having fun developing this school. It’s important for this community and goes hand-in-hand with all the development going on in Jersey City.”

For more information, visit