It all started with a deflated basketball. Though longtime friends Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin scoured downtown Boston for an inflating needle to fill it, no shops in the area carried one. They were frustrated—and they realized that other Bostonians looking for athletic gear were likely frustrated too. So in 1983, they opened City Sports, a shop stocked with all the footwear, athletic apparel, and sports equipment that the metropolis had been missing.
Nearly three decades later, Mike and Eric's neighborhood business has expanded to 20 shops across the East Coast. In addition to stocking popular brands such as Vibram, The North Face, and Patagonia, the store engineers its own CS by City Sports line. Shoppers include yogis, cyclists, and tennis players—anyone seeking to outfit active lifestyles, whether they're playing a team sport or braving the hike up the world's largest gumdrop. In addition to footwear and apparel, the staff stocks fitness equipment such as kettlebells, lifting gloves, and dumbbells.
The Caster family's bike centers have been treating two-wheelers since 1919, and recently received Best of Rhode Island honors from the editors of Rhode Island Monthly. The shop's basic tune-up begins with a safety check and frame wipe-down followed by an inspection designed to determine vintage and appellation. Experts skilled in two-wheelism then adjust bearings, tinker with wheel tension, inspect and lube the drive train, and align the brakes to enable unfettered pumping power.
Whatever the customer's level of fishing familiarity, the experienced, knowledgeable fisherfriends at Ocean State Tackle will find the bait, tackle, and equipment necessary to bring home a trophy catch. The friendly, independently owned shop carries an extensive array of live, fresh, frozen, and brined bait to nab the belligerent bass and troublesome trout that haunt the sea-battered dreams of ancient mariners. Freshwater and saltwater bait specialists are on hand to consult addled anglers on the most effective sandworms ($6.50/dozen), bloodworms ($9/dozen), night crawlers ($3/container), and other spineless fish treats such as freshly packed local squid ($4). The store also features a wide variety of inanimate tackle such as medium-heavy shiners for bass of all mouth size ($9.50/dozen) and tackle such as braided Power Pro fishing line ($0.11/yard), featuring 30–80 pound test.
Gravity holds no sway over visitors at Sky Zone Providence. Upon donning a pair of SkySocks, customers step onto a patented, wall-to-wall trampoline to bid the ground farewell. 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. Staff also mixes organized sports into the jumping equation by hosting games of dodgeball inside the trampoline arena.
With a three-time Louisville Slugger Region 21 coach of the year and a scout for the Florida Marlins on its seven-man roster, the staff at Upper Deck Baseball Academy commands years of competitive diamond expertise. The team puts its 8,900-square-foot facility to work assisting budding baseball and softball stars with improvement of their physical, mechanical, and mental capabilities through creative, focused drills. Two Iron Mike pitching machines and two Jugs pitching machines hurl heat down the indoor batting cages, allowing players to work on bat speed and hitting to the opposite field without the awkward eye contact that comes with facing a real pitcher. Players can also have their chops recorded with video swing analysis, allowing for real-time feedback on swing mechanics.
Although the top priority at Evolutionary Sports is to help others get into shape, the facility aims far beyond that by creating an environment that makes every guest, member, and first-time exerciser feel part of something bigger. To accomplish its mission, the business offers group workouts, personal training, and a full slate of classes at two different facilities. Those classes range from boot camp and yoga to karate and cross training, which fuses kickboxing techniques, cardio drills, and weight training into one intense session.