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.
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.
For years, Life in Synergy founder Helena Collins was frustrated with her body. Despite vigorously working out and dieting, she wasn't seeing results. But she knew there had to be a way to achieve the figure she wanted while still eating the foods she loved and actually enjoying her workouts. So she set out to find a solution. After more than 30 years of research, she now lives by the motto "Work smarter, not harder," and has developed a fitness method that motivates her clients to make long-term changes through custom nutrition plans, exercise, and life-coaching sessions.
Along with her team of certified trainers, Collins first meets with each client to assess their goals, which might include losing pounds or finally being able to bench-press their older brother. The staff then develops a customized nutrition plan that eschews fad diets and starvation, as well as a fitness plan that hones in on specific problem areas such as the thighs, love handles, and belly. During Life in Synergy's signature Synergistics Fitness Method classes, clients work toward those same goals in a group setting, using exercise bands and medicine balls for low-impact moves that don't damage joints. The metabolism-boosting workouts also emphasize stretching and strengthening weak muscles to correct any imbalances in the body. The trainers further hone in on problem areas during classes including Butts and Guts, Lean Legs, and Abs and Arms.
Attracting the ringside cheers of NBC's Today show, as well as the 2011, 2012, and 2013 CityVoter title of Best Gym in Boston, The Ring Boxing Club's boxers eschew the monotony of standard fitness routines in favor of the strategy and concentration of boxing. These accomplished boxing coaches—of them, a Golden Gloves winner, a former U.S. Army Green Beret, and an incredibly dynamic former Super Middleweight once ranked sixth in the world—tutor students of all ages and fitness levels through what the Boston Herald describes as an "all encompassing workout that improves fitness and coordination and builds strength." They motivate clients to embrace the confidence that blossoms in the ring as they elegantly dance with an opponent or punching bag, engraining hooks and uppercuts into muscle memory. Amid the gym's boxing memorabilia and posters, they teach more than 60 classes a week, leading a 12-round boxing workout that marries a professional boxer's workout with a montage of fitness drills. They also teach the pugilist's basic footwork, punches, and blocks, which they streamline with strength training, theory, and proper form.
To help women achieve their fitness goals, the certified personal trainers at Get In Shape For Women focus on four areas: weight training, cardio training, nutrition, and accountability. In small group sessions, trainers modify exercises to suit up to four ladies' fitness levels, beginning by calibrating strength-training sessions—such as free weights, lunges, and squats—to each client's abilities while still ensuring they are challenging themselves. Then comes high-intensity cardio interval-training sessions in which trainers encourage exercisers to achieve optimal results on the treadmill or elliptical.
The trainers supplement the group workouts with nutritional planning centered around the concept of eating six small, balanced meals six days a week. They set aside the seventh day as a "free day" for a bit of indulgence, be it eating a favorite sweet or lusting openly after bacon. To hold their women accountable, trainers talk nutrition on the floor during scheduled appointments, and the ladies' progress toward reaching their goals is measured by trainers each week.
South End Yoga owner-instructor Patrice Flesch has been studying yoga for nearly four decades, but it was Kripalu yoga that finally inspired her to become a certified yoga instructor. Extremely accessible to newcomers and people with physical limitations, the discipline is distinguished by an extensive system of pose modifications that build flexibility gradually. Flesch applies these principles outside the studio in work with Alzheimer?s, cardiac, and cancer patients at her home base, a tucked-away space on a leafy street lined with row houses that all have excellent posture. Many of the classes at South End Yoga are tailored to accommodate students of all backgrounds, and most are limited to a small number of students.
Among other styles of yoga, Iyengar classes incorporate lightweight props to methodically tone muscles. Some classes are designed specifically with moms and moms-to-be in mind. During prenatal yoga, expectant mothers work on focused breathing and gentle stretching, whereas Mom & Baby classes incorporate tiny tots in a series of toning stretches.