In the early ’70s, Boston-area resident Mike Farny dreamed of creating affordable outdoor recreational activities for his community to enjoy. In May of 1973, Mike set up shop in the MDC Norumbega Police Substation of Newton/Auburndale and began realizing his dream. The location—directly next to the historic Totem Pole Ballroom—perfectly enabled the environmentally friendly practice of canoeing and kayaking. Mike's vision blossomed over the years to include four other locations, each offering rentals, tours, and instruction.
Today, on-staff guides lead tours of the Charles River and Boston Harbor to educate participants in ecosystem conservation, view the skyline and sunset, or explore historic structures. Select trips also include lunch to fuel participants as they navigate difficult waterways and jump through flaming hoops. To prepare customers entering the water for the first time, instructors coach riders of all levels in private or group lessons at the paddling school, which draws on more than 30 years of instructional tradition. Team members also organize paddlers with sufficient experience to compete in Run on the Charles, an annual canoe and kayak race down the river. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where Tiderace and Boréal kayaks hang alongside Tahoe paddleboards and Wenonah canoes, dreaming of one day being the inspiration for a traditional sea chantey. Crew members help clients choose from this selection of new rides and accessories through free daily demonstrations.
Soni Anderson has been a yoga enthusiast since infancy. As a baby in the Fiji islands, she received yoga massage from her grandmother while her grandfather danced and performed stories from ancient Hindu texts. Her village endorsed meditation and an Ayurvedic lifestyle, prompting Soni to practice her asanas alongside extended family and friends as she matured. Today, as the owner and head teacher of SoniYoga, she strives to combine her grandfather's playful mindset with the therapeutic customs of her homeland.
SoniYoga focuses on the Hatha style, though its studio also embraces restorative, Kundalini, and yin and yang postures during certain classes. A serene atmosphere of acceptance welcomes all students to challenge themselves each time they visit, whether they wish to push the boundaries of their flexibility with a more advanced pose or with a more restrictive suit of armor. Soni also channels her holistic upbringing by offering Ayurvedic counseling, products, and massage services which can help customize a wellness plan for clients based on their body types.
Baron Baptiste's signature brand of yoga has transformed lives. It has optimized the performance of the Philadelphia Eagles and empowered impoverished youth in Nairobi. It has lifted the spirits of war veterans and counseled gang members in Los Angeles. On a day-to-day basis, it has improved the physical health and mental acuity of Bostonians, who can practice the discipline under the tutelage of Baron Baptiste himself.
At his eponymous studios in Brookline and Cambridge, Baptiste joins a team of instructors who promulgate his teachings through classes, teacher-training programs, and workshops. Classes take place in 90-degree studios that boost detoxification and flexibility. In addition to fitness-centric classes, the studio offers guided meditation classes that establish the focus and clarity of mind required to read the entire Gutenberg Bible while riding a rollercoaster.
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.
The Zamboni finishes its final methodical sweep across the Kendall Square Ice Skating Rink, leaving behind only a smooth, glassy surface. The illuminated floors of the surrounding office buildings and the twinkling holiday lights of the nearby trees reflect vividly off the ice for a precious moment before the calm is broken by scores of skaters spilling out into the rink—sliding, dashing, and casually loping through the cold evening air.
This is the scene at the 2.5-acre Kendall Square each day from mid-December through mid-March, provided the weather cooperates. Skaters can rent hockey and figure skates or bring their own blades for spins around the rink. They can pause between laps to warm themselves with a hot chocolate from the snack bar or a bear hug with an unsuspecting stranger.
Summertime breezes sneak through fork prongs and rustle across napkins at the 16th annual Taste of Allston, where community foodies unite under a banner splattered with international ingredients. More than 20 restaurants introduce taste buds to some of the city's best eats, from the Far East fare of Korean Garden to the smoky brick-oven flavor of Pizzeria Regina's pies. In between bites, live music, beer samples, and raffle prizes plate up entertainment for adults, and kid-friendly attractions, such as face-painting stations, keep young'uns from trying to sneak away between oversize hoagie buns. All profits raised by the festival go straight to the Allston Village Main Streets, a nonprofit revitalization effort working to keep the community safe.