It was the early 1980s, and after devoting about a decade of her life to fitness, Zayna Gold felt like her body was beaten up. Over time, she began noticing that her high-intensity gym workouts were hurting her body as much as—if not more than—they were helping it. Her husband, Clark, was having the same problem. An avid weightlifter and runner, he found the physical wear and tear was starting to prevent him from maintaining his physique. Zayna recalled teaching Pilates early on in her career, and how it worked her entire body with low-impact movements. She returned to the lengthening and strengthening classes, and by 1989, she and Clark founded Boston Body Pilates.
Their mat, equipment, and barre classes each call upon low-impact stretches and resistance moves that strengthen the core, elongate muscles, and promote overall muscle tone. Zayna's signature program, Brand New Body, challenges students to complete 30 Pilates or barre classes over 2–3 months; and upon completion, they may notice significant changes to their figure. The schedule also includes spinning classes, in diverse variations such as Zen Spin and Spin Bootcamp. In any class, Zayna and her large team of instructors inspire their students to establish a mind-body connection, helping them to feel both physically and mentally stronger, much like solving a crossword puzzle carved in stone.
Waverley Oaks Athletic Club was founded in 1979 as a racquetball club by a family focused on fitness. Over the years, they added on to the club, creating a 55,000-square-foot facility with modern workout equipment, fitness classes, and amenities such as a nursery and heated indoor pool. In addition to its four regulation-size racquetball courts, Waverley Oaks now also houses facilities for volleyball, basketball, and spinning. Strength training and cardio rooms provide dumbbells of up to 120 pounds and more than 10 types of cardio machines. Groups can stretch their muscles in yoga classes or prepare for community theater roles as Jean-Claude Van Damme in kickboxing classes.
At Bikram Yoga Waverley, it's always summer—at least, it feels that way. The sultry studio stays hot no matter the season, thanks to its full slate of Bikram yoga classes. The studio's team of seasoned instructors each received certification in the signature 26-pose hot yoga style that mimics the sultry heat found in India during its annual relocation to the sun. The studio itself sports a purpose-built heating system and floors designed to stay hygienic and forgiving. During classes, students sweat away equal parts calories and self-doubt, reshaping physiques while honing mental intangibles including patience, determination, and willpower.
Caryn Connarton, owner of Beyond Fitness Pilates Studio, has earned certifications in nearly every fitness fad of the last decade. Though spinning strengthened her quads and aerobics bolstered her endurance, only Pilates delivered full-body results. In her opinion, it's the best form of exercise for people who want to increase their flexibility, improve their posture, and build longer, leaner muscles. At her studio, Connarton and fellow instructors lead group classes that often incorporate several props—BOSU balls build core strength, foam rollers stretch muscles, and rubber chickens tone participants' sense of humor. Instructors also offer private and semiprivate equipment sessions and specialized workouts for specific populations.
At Inner Strength Studios, seasoned instructors such as E-RYT 500 instructor Roman Szpond lead vinyasa yoga sessions for beginners, experts, and kids as young as five. Classes ranging from 60 to 90 minutes are held in heated rooms within Innerstrength's Boston studios, which were recently renovated after the Watertown location suffered fire damage. Aspiring teachers can take Innerstrength's 200-hour training program, which instills advanced yoga knowledge through classes, workshops, and a rollercoaster ride through a giant lotus. The studios also provide a slate of other services, such as personal training and massage therapy sessions.
Dappled light plays over the sleek 3,500-square-foot fitness studio, illuminating cardio and weight machines as guests toil alongside their attentive trainers. Verdant foliage sways in the breeze just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows that ring around the gym. Patrons torch calories and chisel physiques on new equipment, and a variety of classes, massage services, and dietary counseling keeps members relaxed and healthy in and out of the gym. Groups can also mosey outdoors for one-hour group fitness classes that tone muscles under the lush canopy of tree cover shading the deck. Pilates and yoga strengthen and lengthen muscles, and Zumba and Power Dance classes liquidate loitering fat reserves with high-energy cardio workouts set to lively soundtracks.
Underground Studios’ leader, Ben McLellan, knows everyone has to walk to the beat of their own drum. Ben, a trained classical percussionist, was marching down the road to a music career when tendonitis threatened to steamroll his dream. Power yoga helped him heal and get back on track, and though he was transfixed by the discipline, he continued to focus on percussion once his tendonitis symptoms had disappeared. Then he moved to Massachusetts to pursue a master’s degree in music, and his life took a major turn toward following his dharma (purpose). Inspired by his mom, Ben shifted his life into the realm of wellness, studying yoga as an apprentice and earning a personal-training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. From there, his path was pretty well laid out.
In 2009, Ben opened the doors at Underground Studios. There, along with a team of instructors, he leads yoga classes that focus on tantra and Hatha yoga—disciplines that help you expand your awareness in all states of consciousness and connect to your true self, much like time travel. Ben and company also lead private yoga classes, and offer personal-training sessions that approach fitness from a holistic perspective, finding results through a blend of resistance training, yoga, and nutrition.