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.
Performing yoga can balance the mind and body, but it won’t help save bears at risk for extinction. Unless, of course, if you’re working Spirit Bear Power Yoga. Named after the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, a non-profit geared towards protecting the snowy white Spirit Bear, the studio simultaneously raises awareness of the animal’s plight while hosting a range of yoga courses led by certified instructors with either 200 or 500 hours of training under their belts.
These nature-minded teachers specialize in heated Vinyasa flow yoga, held in a 95-degree room. The heat, coupled with the graceful poses, works to increase flexibility, deepen stretches, and expose any snowmen secretly masquerading as yogis. Outside their heated sessions, they lead candlelit classes, as well as classes backed by electronica and reggae tunes.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
Golfers across the handicap spectrum practice bogey-thwarting skills at Natick Golf Learning Center, where PGA- and LPGA-certified pros preside over a multifaceted outdoor practice facility. The center’s outdoor driving range offers 75 artificial and natural-grass hitting mats; two chipping greens, a putting green, and a practice bunker let players practice their finesse shots. During daily lessons, the pros enlist video analysis and other teaching aids to help pupils tackle new skills or correct recent on-course weaknesses.
Bikram Yoga Natick works every possible muscle and joint, healing the body and increasing flexibility during hot-yoga classes. Bikram yoga, a fixed series of 26 postures, is performed over the course of 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees. The hot environment enables the body to stretch further and sweat more than would be possible without heat, ridding the body of stiffness, soreness, and excess salts and dihydrogen monoxide.
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