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.
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.
Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.
Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.
As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. Though the game-room amenities differ slightly based on the town—Boston's Back Bay has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, and Dedham boasts four miniature-roller-ball lanes—each Kings location hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.
Gravity has no control within Sky Zone Everett's confines. Inside, a sea of trampolines sends visitors leaping, spinning, and somersaulting toward springy floors and pits of foam. The bouncy surfaces stretch to the walls, where trampolines set at 45-degree angles let kids and adults repeatedly soar through the air like a superhero trying to wrack up frequent flier miles. Occasionally, Sky Zone transforms into high-paced competitions such as 3-D dodge ball and Sky Zone the Sport, during which players toss balls through continuously rotating goals. The trampoline-lined arena also hosts SkyRobics classes that utilize low-impact calisthenics and strength-building exercises.
As a veteran of the U.S. Army and Gulf War, Bill Newcomb probably knows a thing or two about hard knocks. He’s probably also received his fair share of bumps and bruises, too, considering he’s practiced martial arts his entire life—including muay thai for the past 16 years. The owner and head instructor at Hard Knocks Muay Thai & MMA, Bill now shares all of his wisdom by training others in both muay thai and in mixed martial arts. But much like an iceberg with a modest online dating profile, classes at Hard Knocks go deeper than one might think. They not only help exercisers stay fit, but instill core values of respect, discipline, and self-esteem as well.