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Sports: Tennis, Track & Field, Yoga

City Parks Foundation
This nonprofit offers free tennis lessons for kids 4 to 16 at nearly 40 parks throughout the five boroughs. Kids are grouped by age, and the program culminates with a novice tournament held in Central Park. Tennis with the Pros, a week of free instructional clinics held before the US Open, has featured superstars Steffi Graf, Venus Williams, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.

Central Park Tennis Center
Children 4 to 17 can learn the basics on the park’s 26 clay and 4 asphalt courts. Beginner programs include after-school sessions in spring and fall, and a summer camp (starting at $135 a week). Advanced players move on to tournament training at a fourteen-court club near Yankee Stadium, where kids over 10 work in groups of four.

Champion Tennis Club
1918 First Ave., at 99th St., third fl.
Located on the roof of a three-story Upper East Side building, Champion Tennis Club caters to all ages—there’s even a Tennis for Tots class (for ages 3 to 6). The Champion Junior Program works on confidence and focus through a mix of drills, games, instruction, and physical conditioning (ages 6 to 16). Nine-week sessions (with one-hour lessons) cost $405.

Tennis Instruction
USTA National Tennis Center
718-760-6200, extension 6213
At the home of the US Open—also the largest public tennis center in the country—kids 18 and under can take private lessons with a pro, or join group lessons and match-play programs, in which they’ll hit with the best players from around the city.

Riverside Clay Tennis Association
Riverside Park, near 97th St.
An annual permit ($100) from the Parks Department will buy a family access to these ten red-clay courts (as will $5 at the gate). Group ($90 for a package of six) and private ($50 per hour) lessons are available, and age-appropriate equipment is provided. The association also holds free lessons for groups of twenty or so kids. The courts are usually open from April through November, depending on the weather.

Sutton East Tennis Club
Under the Queensboro Bridge, at York Ave. and 59th St.
The city’s biggest indoor tennis center features short portable nets and Pee Wee racquets for little hands. Kids start playing with tennis balls as young as 3, gradually moving on to racquets and increasingly bigger courts; kids 8 and up participate in full-court play. Private and group lessons cost $40 to $110 for an hour. In the summer, the club moves outdoors to satellite locations at Hunter College, John Jay College, and P.S. 183 for five-week camps ($205 for kids ages 3 to 6).

Tennis Club of Riverdale
2600 Netherland Ave., Riverdale
The six indoor courts at this 96,000-square-foot center may be a bit north of Manhattan, but the club will pick your kids up from school and drop them at home. Group lessons in fourteen-week sessions are taught by ex-college players and pros ($2,000 for 60 minutes; private lessons are $850 for ten 60-minute lessons on weekdays between opening and 3 p.m.).

Track & Field

The Armory Track & Field Center
Fort Washington Ave. and 168th St.
Founded by Bob Glover—author of The Runner’s Handbook, a veritable bible for the sport—and his wife, Shelly, this program’s four six-week sessions train kids 5 to 13 in long-distance running, sprints, relays, hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put, and javelin. Low-key competitive meets are held each week; all participants get ribbons. $2


Karma Kids Yoga
104 W. 14th St.
Designed to look like an urban garden, this downtown studio for kids has squishy floors so no one gets hurt. Moms can incorporate babies as young as 2 months into their routines ($25 per drop-in class), before graduating to parent-child classes for walking toddlers ($23). Kids-only classes start at the age of 3 ($18) and focus on movement, incorporating songs and animal noises.

Next Generation Yoga
200 W. 72nd St., Ste. 58
This bright, colorful studio claims to be the first in the world dedicated to yoga for kids. In a 45-minute class, children ages 2 to 4 will sing a song about dogs and walk around in the downward-dog position; ages 5 to 7 work on group and partner poses; ages 8 to 14 work on holding poses as well as journal writing and self-reflection. It’s $20 to $28 per class; Sunday classes with student teachers are half-price. All classes are limited to eight kids.

Sonic Yoga Kids
754 Ninth Ave., near 50th St.
Sonic Yoga instructors break down relaxation technique by making up stories about poses and getting kids (18 months to 12 years) to imagine they’re plants and animals. Family Play is a modified yoga class for moms, dads, and babies; Family Flow is straight-up yoga. For kids, the $16-per-class rate is a suggested donation.

Universal Force Healing Center
7 W. 24th St.
The Adventures in Yoga program at this beautiful, skylit studio starts with Circus Yoga, where the 2-to-4 set imitates animals and plays with hula hoops, and moves into Jungle Adventure Yoga, which gets 4-to-6-year-olds to work on poses by linking them to familiar animals (think crab pose). Ten classes are $150, and there’s a free trial class; all ages.

The Yoga Garden for Children
925 West End Ave., No. 4E
Certified kundalini instructor Deborah Bos teaches children’s yoga out of various sites (mainly uptown) in Manhattan. Employing storytelling, music, and even meowing (for cat poses) as teaching devices, Bos places emphasis on yoga as a tool for relaxation, introspection, and creativity (she encourages kids to make up their own poses). Classes are taught in series of ten ($225 for drop-offs; $275 for parent-child) and are organized by age; available to kids 2 and up.

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From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide
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