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.
A team of some of the most seasoned yoga teachers in the Untied States from various yoga styles shepherds students through sequences that range from gentle flow to physically demanding poses in classes that draw from Hatha, Vinyasa, and heated traditions. Every aspect of Down Under Yoga's design sprung from the minds of practicing yogis. Their students created the layout for the many-windowed, earth-toned studio, created the art and photography on the walls and bonsai trees.
They also serve up side dishes of Pilates, world dance, and Gyrokinesis, in which participants perform flowing, circular movements using a chair and mat, with the seamless flow allowing it to be done by all clients, including senior citizens and those with disabilities. In workshops, teachers and guest instructors discuss specialized topics, such as the role yoga plays in building core strength or ameliorating back pain. Ensuring that their moral compass points due north, Down Under Yoga refuses to sell overpriced apparel or environmentally damaging water bottles, or to accept corporate money to promote products.
In 1973, Mike Farny had a vision: to bring affordable outdoor recreation to the residents of metropolitan Boston. Opening the Charles River Canoe Service that year, Farny became an instrumental voice in efforts to clean up the river, encouraging people to canoe, kayak, and sweep up the dirt on the riverbanks. The next year, he persuaded the Leo J. Martin Golf Course to transform its greens and fairways into a sprawling landscape for cross-country skiing alongside the Charles, allowing the public to enjoy recreation on the river even when its waters had frozen. A 15-kilometer system of trails makes use of natural snowfall and offers skiers a chance to change up their routes. Even when flakes refuse to fall, a state-of-the-art artificial-snow system shoots powder over a 2.5-kilometer loop, which rests beneath lights to allow night skiing before guests return to the cozy snack shop for hot cocoa and a bite to eat.
A quick study in graceful movement, Peter Gelzhinsky competed in the finals at the USA National Dance Championship just three years after taking up the craft. Parlaying his quick learning into effective teaching methods, Peter now leads hot-footed hopefuls through lessons that cover such social ballroom dances as merengue, cha-cha, and the hustle. Students can also breakdance to the thumping beats of hip-hop classes, or sashay with a provided partner through the salsa-like steps of the bachata. Many students enlist in Star Dance School’s lessons in preparation for a wedding or the grand opening of a laundromat with a dance floor.