Sept. 7 2016 09:57 AM

Spartan Dance & Fit Center / Celebration! Cinema Lansing & Imax

The newly expanded Spartan Dance & Fit Center offers a wide variety of activities, including lessons in more than a dozen styles of dance and state-of-the-art physical training equipment.
Allan I. Ross/City Pulse

With school back in session, parents can release a collective sigh of relief. It’s no longer solely on you to fill eight hours of daytime activities for your feisty offspring. But what about stuff to keep those kiddos active on weekends and between the final school bell and bedtime during the week — not to mention to beef up the old college application form? Last we checked, Harvard doesn’t accept “has captured all Pokémon” as a desirable extracurricular.

Sports is the front lines of the eternal “keeping children active” campaign, and last month East Lansing witnessed one of its homegrown sports-related businesses more than quadrupling in size. Spartan Dance & Fit Center’s new location in East Lansing’s Carriage Hill Neighborhood, 6075 N. Hagadorn Road, is the third home for Tiffany Russell’s business, which first opened on Ann Street in 2010. She initially opened the fitness center to pass her love of dance along to her own children.

“I was looking for the quality of training I’d had, but I couldn’t find it locally,” said Russell, 37, a former professional dancer who worked in New York and Asia. “Dance is sport — it’s art and it’s performance. You can’t be a dancer unless you’re athletic and have intelligence and endurance. There just wasn’t any local place that was holding students to the levels that I wanted (for my own children), so I started my own.”

The business grew quickly. After the first year, Russell had 80 students. That number doubled the next year and again the year after that. After the Ann Street location was razed to make room for the mixed-use development that is now home to the HopCat and FieldHouse restaurants, Russell moved the studio to a larger location on the corner of Abbot and Lake Lansing roads. After three years at that location, she said, there were “students sitting on top of students,” necessitating the recent move and expansion.

“This has grown faster than I ever imagined it could,” Russell said. “There’s a real demand for dance.”

The new space checks in at 13,000 square feet, comprising six dance studios (some equipped with spring floors), a group fitness center, a smoothie bar, a play area for children and an “adult business center” (i.e., a place to keep mom and dad busy while junior’s in ballet class). Russell has a team of 38 instructors on staff, including physical trainers and dietitians. The studio takes up half of the vacant space left by L&L Food Center, which closed in 2010.

“It’s exciting to bring a business of this size to this part of East Lansing,” Russell said. “I think it will really rejuvenate the Carriage Hill, and I hope it pulls new businesses into this pocket. It’s a fun, upbeat area with lots of room for growth.”

Spartan Dance has about 400 students, and with this move, Russell expects to see that number go up to 600. And lest you think that dance is “just for girls,” Russell is quick to point out the high number of young men involved in programs.

“One of (our students) is a former MSU football player who had gotten out of shape,” Russell said. “We helped him get back in shape, and he’ll be the first to say that (our facility) turned his life around. Dance is my passion, and I give it all I can. I love hearing stories like that.”

Sound and vision

Michigan-based movie theater chain Celebration! Cinema announced last week that all of its theaters, including Celebration! Cinema Lansing and IMAX, 200 E. Edgewood Blvd., would be outfitted with two cutting edge devices to enhance the moviegoing experience for hearing and vision impaired patrons. These changes are also intended to boost comprehension for those who are new to the English language or have learning disabilities.

The first addition is a descriptive audio service that narrates each film through a headset. The description provides information about key visual elements, such as the setting and scene changes, making movies more meaningful for people who can’t see what’s happening. The other addition is a new closed captioning service screen that attaches to a seat’s cup holder. It can be adjusted with a flexible arm to the moviegoer’s viewing angle, and all dialogue is displayed on the screen in text form. A statement released by Celebration! spokesman Steve VanWagoner said this technology paves the way for future iterations which could assist viewers with non-English captioning.

“We remain committed to continuing to improve services for all of our guests,” VanWagoner said.

These changes received praise from Joe Sibley, a spokesman for Michigan’s vision impaired community and a past president of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

“Celebration! Cinema was the first (theater) in Michigan to offer this technology on a limited basis 10 years ago,” Sibley said in the release. “Many people with hearing or vision loss have enjoyed going to the movies again.”

Both of these services will be available on request at the ticket counter by mid-October.

Spartan Dance & Fit Center 6075 N. Hagadorn Road, East Lansing Hours vary by class/activity (517) 999-5415,