Fists fly amid a regulation sized boxing ring as the stern commands of an on looking coach keep the fighters in check. Though there may be gravel in his voice, each demand is intended to motivate students of all levels as they hone their boxing skills during small group boxing sessions at Peter Welch's Gym. And leading the pack of coaches who "… will motivate you, but never intimidate you," as told to the Boston Common by Melinda Sarkis—is the owner himself, Peter Welch, a Golden Gloves champion and fighting coach for UFC fighters Kenny Florian and Brock Lesnar. With decades of "old school" boxing experience tucked into his belt, Peter has developed a hands-on boxing program that teaches novice fighters using the same workout as professionals, while instilling confidence through effective conditioning and coaching.
His namesake gym recently moved to a new location that boasts a free weight area, flat screen TVs, and spacious locker rooms. The gym's week-long schedule is open to all including men and women of any age, and has even had visitors such as Anthony Bourdain.
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.
Owner Richard Lanza began Open Doors as a metaphysical healing center and store in 1992, and he carried that healing spirit into the yoga studio he opened in 2003. At Open Doors Yoga Studios, Richard's goal is to create a space where people feel empowered to explore their personal beliefs on a path toward self-healing. Thus, yoga instructors at the studio's numerous locations help practitioners achieve their personal goals through accessible classes, each designed to build core strength while quieting the mind and increasing body awareness. From slow-flow heated classes to unheated Hatha sessions, students can participate in a variety of yoga styles geared toward beginners, more experienced participants, and those who only feel comfortable in a 98-degree room.
Attracting the ringside cheers of NBC's Today show, as well as the 2011, 2012, and 2013 CityVoter title of Best Gym in Boston, The Ring Boxing Club's boxers eschew the monotony of standard fitness routines in favor of the strategy and concentration of boxing. These accomplished boxing coaches—of them, a Golden Gloves winner, a former U.S. Army Green Beret, and an incredibly dynamic former Super Middleweight once ranked sixth in the world—tutor students of all ages and fitness levels through what the Boston Herald describes as an "all encompassing workout that improves fitness and coordination and builds strength." They motivate clients to embrace the confidence that blossoms in the ring as they elegantly dance with an opponent or punching bag, engraining hooks and uppercuts into muscle memory. Amid the gym's boxing memorabilia and posters, they teach more than 60 classes a week, leading a 12-round boxing workout that marries a professional boxer's workout with a montage of fitness drills. They also teach the pugilist's basic footwork, punches, and blocks, which they streamline with strength training, theory, and proper form.
Fitcorp's trainers have big shoes to fill. Founder Gary Klencheski earned his exercise technician certification from the American College of Sports Medicine and served on the Governor's Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports for 20 years. Klencheski's passion and expertise trickle down through each of his gyms' eight facilities, where each personal trainer has a degree in exercise science, a nationally accredited certification, and the charisma of a dictator holding pompoms.
The gym's array of fitness services includes cardio and strength-training equipment, as well as group Pilates, yoga, boot-camp, and Zumba classes. Massage and acupuncture sessions keep the body in high gear, and an onsite nutritionist offers nutrition tips developed by registered dietitian Amy Boyce.
This women-only local chain of fitness centers is beyond popular, if the numbers mean anything: 15,000 members, 500-plus employees, and four locations (plus two non-profit fitness centers). Over 30 years, clearly Healthworks Fitness Center has figured out what women want in the fitness world. The Back Bay location in Copley Square is steps from the nearby subway station, making it convenient for those coming to work in the area, as well as residents of the Back Bay and the South End. The formula is easy: offer literally hundreds of group classes each week, a team of personal trainers on tap and provide a spa-like atmosphere in the locker rooms, which are stocked with amenities like hair dryers and towels. A wide variety of equipment, plus services like childcare, nutrition counseling, massage therapy and special events and programs, keep things buzzing all day long.