The YMCA keeps residents healthy and engaged in more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the country, but it traces its American origins to the streets of 19th-century Boston. Here, Thomas Valentine Sullivan carried on the mission started in London by George Williams: providing affordable recreation and residence to young men from cities and country towns alike. Over the last century and change, the organization's mission changed to keep pace with the evolving times; today, the YMCA of Greater Boston welcomes anyone interested in furthering the causes of "youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."
This modern mission combines the Y's signature programming with new initiatives designed to keep citizens one step ahead of an ever-changing world. Members stay fit and active with everything from organized sports and fitness classes to lifeguard, CPR, and first aid lessons. But the Y's developmental programs go far beyond bodily strength; their enrichment and leadership courses equip youths with the confidence needed to take charge in their everyday lives, and ESL classes help newcomers to English embark on the next step of their linguistic lives.
Above all else, Sifu K.L. Brown understands two things: first, that a physical change can trigger a spiritual change; and second, that most martial-arts training caters more to men than to women. K.L. discovered that first truth as a boy in the Bronx, where his passion for the Boy Scouts, martial arts, and dance led him to several defining accomplishments. Namely, he was one of first African-Americans from his borough to earn the rank of an Eagle Scout and won both Silver Mittens and Golden Gloves titles before going on to a career as a professional boxing coach.This experience contributed to his second realization, that women needed a style of martial-arts training tailored for their fitness needs and style of learning.
Thus, K.L. designed Sweat Box, a form of martial-arts-based fitness training that dispenses with the rigidity of formal training studios in favor of a high-energy, celebratory atmosphere. As he leads participants through exercises, he also mixes in hip-hop moves and gymnastics. Leading each class, he adjusts exercises for all fitness levels, scaling difficulty where needed. In addition to helping students attain an improved physique, his fitness programs—which include classes, personal training, and competition training—encourage students to expand their perceptions of who they are and what they're capable of.
Still upholding the humanitarianism he learned with the Boy Scouts, K.L. also uses Sweat Box to promote community mindedness. Through his philanthropic venture Sweat Box, Inc. Rose Foundation, he donates proceeds from Sweat Box and Sweat Box Couture toward research into breast cancer, diabetes, and how to make donuts less delicious.
There are more black belts in Mass BJJ's Acton and Arlington studios than even the biggest of Johnny Cash's walk-in closets. Though in this case, they're tied around the waists of expert martial arts trainers, who teach the finer points of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to both kids and adults. This particular martial art form focuses on getting an opponent to the ground, where size doesn't matter and proper fighting technique reigns supreme.
While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu inspired Mass BJJ's name, it isn't the only discipline taught atop their red padded floors. In fact, the instructors encourage students to mix different classes to get a well-rounded martial arts education. To that end, they lead kick-boxing, MMA, and general strength-conditioning classes.
On its website, Redline Fight Sports boasts that it is not a typical, low-intensity health club. Rather, it is a 5,000-square-foot facility designed to train fighters and fitness enthusiasts who want to train like fighters but do not want to interact with large slabs of meat. Its coaches—most fighters themselves—preach purposeful and practical training, where natural movements replace rote exercises to help boost strength, speed, flexibility, and stamina. For example, instead of sitting at a bicep-curl machine, a student in the popular Fighter-Fit class may slug an uppercut bag or whip into a teardrop knee bag. This choreography of punches and kicks takes place in the training area, where heavy bags and lightweight striking bags hang, some on a custom, 40-foot rail system that slides them to and fro. In a back cage room, grapplers can train over fully matted floors and walls, even practicing throws on a crash mat.
A regulation-sized sparring ring is available for dedicated boxing training, and free weights work to boost strength capacity. An air exchanger circulates fresh oxygen into the gym, which also rents towels for its fighters in training.
The fighting Florian brothers lend their family name to Florian Martial Arts, where they apply expert skill and professional experience to their strength and conditioning programs. Classes include everything from Brazilian jujitsu to a junior samurai program for boys and girls aged 6?15. Beginners may be interested in the fundamentals program, which teaches the "Florian way," a method of simple but highly effective techniques.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and Self Defense.
Pro Tip: Please bring a positive attitude.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes