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. Staffers can also equip boaters in the shop—where P&H 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 their ride and accessories from these selections and others 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.
Husband-and-wife team and Prana Power Yoga cofounders Philippe and Taylor Wells foster an environment in which clients can explore holistic wellness through yoga, intensive workshops, and events. Instructors at each heated studio locations roll out the welcome yoga mats, encouraging students of all interests and skill levels, from mothers-to-be to veteran sun saluters, to build strong bodies and peaceful minds in a judgment-free environment. During athletic Vinyasa-style yoga classes, certified instructors crank up temperatures as high as 99 degrees before taking mat mavens through a sequence of sweaty postures linked with mindful breathing exercises designed to boost lung capacity to Sting-like levels. Meanwhile, visitors in search of a transformative experience can attend one of the studio's workshops or events, which range from juice cleanses to destination yoga retreats in Nayarit, Mexico.
Nubar radiates an assured air that comes from the stewardship of three generations of the Guleserian family. Their contemporary approach to classic cuisine manifests itself in seasonal dishes that have included roasted local haddock with saffron and duck breast with cherries and bok choy. Chefs use ingredients from local farms, fisheries, and bakeries to enhance their creations and cut down on the food's jet lag. Nubar's rooftop garden also enriches warm-weather fare with fresh-picked herbs and vegetables.
Set within the confines of the auspicious Sheraton Commander Hotel, Nubar wraps its guests in sleek lines and soothing hues of brown. Behind a bar made entirely of butter-yellow honey onyx, bartenders shake and stir artisanal spirits into classic or modern cocktails. With a cocktail, local beer, or wine glass in hand, patrons can recline on leather ottomans and admire the linear fireplace that separates the lounge from the dining room. Soft light cascades from wide cylindrical lamps and minimalist candelabras that stretch up the wall.
A 40-foot mahogany bar dominates the space at The Spirit Bar, allowing bartenders to slide any of the 50 available brews to patrons while they watch up to eight different games on 12 televisions, including seven 42-inch plasma screens. The bar's year-round premium sports packages keep the apple-red walls echoing with the sounds of professional baseball, hockey, or college football, and it hosts viewings of every college-basketball tournament game and pay-per-view ultimate-fighting event. Dartboards and weekly pub-trivia nights help keep patrons occupied in between athletic broadcasts.
Even the menu strives for an inclusive neighborhood feel, featuring an eclectic combination of international and regional comfort foods. The cooks slather wings with one of 17 different sauces—such as chipotle-bourbon barbecue, caribbean jerk, or garlic and parmesan—and they hand-form each Angus-beef burger patty. Fried fish 'n' chips evoke the menu of a transatlantic pub, and nachos with homemade salsa and guacamole recall flavors from south of the international date line.
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.