British Swim School
Jewish Community Center
1050 Kennedy Blvd.
Huh? British Swim School in Bayonne? What the heck’s going on here? Turns out it’s a franchise started 35 years ago by Brit swimmer Rita Goldberg. Now headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, it operates 200 schools in 20 states.
Hudson County towns with BSS franchises include Jersey City, Secaucus, Weehawken, and Bayonne, which serve more than 1,000 kids. The Bayonne franchise operates out of the Jewish Community Center.
As we look toward the summer Olympics, don’t get all starry-eyed about grooming the next Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky.
British Swim School is all about safety, full stop. And BSS students start early, as young as three months. Bayonne franchise owner Robert Stapf says that Goldberg “developed a method of teaching kids how to survive in a very special way, how to float in the water and not drown.”
Stapf is shocked by the CDC statistic that drowning is the number-one cause of accidental death for children under the age of 5. The second is car accidents.
“Parents buy car safety seats for their kids, but they don’t always think about swim lessons, which are even more important,” he says. “We are here to raise awareness and change that. Our mission is to make sure that every child is safe in the water, not to teach the butterfly.”
All instructors are former competitive swimmers.
“The earlier you start them with professional swim lessons, the less likely they are to develop a fear of the water,” Stapf says. “Swimming lessons are important for everybody, not just towns with water access.” In fact, he says, most accidents occur in swimming pools.
The British Swim School curriculum, which also serves adults, offers water safety, survival skills, and swimming skills development. While parental supervision is essential, Stapf says that research shows that formal swim programs reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children most at risk for drowning deaths.
The BSS method prohibits floaties, promotes classes no bigger than four students, encourages year-round learning, and believes that learning safe swimming should be fun and goal-oriented.
BSS operates on the premise that children progress at different rates. Each child, regardless of his or her skill level, is given certain achievable objectives.
Classes start at the Tadpole level and go on to Swimboree, Seahorse, Starfish, Minnow, Turtle 1, Turtle 2, Shark 1, Shark 2, Barracudas Swim Team, and adult classes.
Robert Stapf has no aquatics background, but feels so strongly about water safety and survival that he decided to become a BSS franchisee.
“I was a corporate executive in the perfume business for 16 years,” he says. “It was not related to swimming at all.”
The British Swim School often fills the gap left by schools. “Swimming is not mandatory any more,” Stapf says. “Nobody makes sure kids can swim. In phys-ed, often the first thing that goes is swimming.”
The British Swim School puts swimming first.
Health Coaching Academy
“The community and the country are getting sicker and sicker.”
Wow, that’s a strong statement. It’s coming from the mouth of Bayonne chiropractor Dr. Noah De Koyer, who runs the Family Chiropractic Center in Bayonne. He and fellow Bayonne chiropractor Dr. Michael Acanfora launched the Health Coaching Academy this year to promote better health and wellness.
“After years and years of intense interest in health and wellness, we decided to use the knowledge we’ve gained over the years to create a comprehensive program to help a wider range of patients,” De Koyer says.
The pair interviewed some 150 leaders in the healthcare field, took cues from their podcast “Beyond Your Wildest Genes,” and completed very specialized training in order to become health coaches.
What are Americans suffering from? Both doctors agree that it’s the usual suspects: lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress.
“They’re sick and tired of being sick and tired,” De Koyer says. “There’s a great deal of confusion about what and how to eat and a lot of distractions—social media, TV, video games—that are taking us away from proper sleep time.”
Sleep deprivation is a major health hazard. “After a deep REM sleep, you won’t be as anxious, and you’ll be ready to conquer the world,” De Koyer says.
Eating the right foods, getting enough exercise, and proper restful sleep, he says, are crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. At the Health Coaching Academy, they practice the “drug-free way to natural healing.”
Why start an academy?
“We’ve been helping and coaching patients for two decades, so we wanted to codify it in an academy with a defined name and space,” De Koyer says.
What is the biggest complaint among patients? “Lack of energy and lack of drive,” he says.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. “People coming to us are usually open-minded people,” De Koyer says. “Some people want a magic pill, but health is a process, just like anything else. There are defined steps day in and day out, every day to reach a defined goal.”
Each goal is different. “It’s not one-size-fits-all,” De Koyer says. “It’s a custom-made approach. No two people are alike.”
Patients accustomed to traditional medicine will appreciate the change. Traditional practitioners, De Koyer says, “are trained in disease prevention instead of health creation. We’ve been helping people get well for a combined 40 years.”
Dr. Michael Acanfora studied at the Kresser Institute for Functional and Evolutionary Medicine and runs the Wellness Institute in Bayonne.
“We focus on holistic, or alternative medicine, because the natural approach helps the body restore to its highest levels of wellbeing,” he says. “There’s a dramatic difference between what we do and everyone else. It’s not a quick fix. We address the root cause of each individual’s health issue.”
It’s a team effort. “We partner with patients in getting their health back,” Acanfora says. “It’s not a doctor up on a pedestal.”
He puts a lot of emphasis on combating the “standard American diet.” We all know the drill: processed and packaged food with lots of preservatives. In two words: junk food. “When you start eating right, you lose weight naturally,” he says. “One patient lost 12 pounds in two weeks, just by eating healthier, taking baby steps by starting with detox.”
Acanfora likes to get patients before the heart attack. “They’re out of breath going upstairs, they’re unable to play with their grandkids, they can’t do things they want to do,” he says.
Patients come to the coaching academy “when they’ve been through the gamut and not getting results.”—BLP.