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.
To help women achieve their fitness goals, the certified personal trainers at Get In Shape For Women focus on four areas: weight training, cardio training, nutrition, and accountability. In small group sessions, trainers modify exercises to suit up to four ladies' fitness levels, beginning by calibrating strength-training sessions—such as free weights, lunges, and squats—to each client's abilities while still ensuring they are challenging themselves. Then comes high-intensity cardio interval-training sessions in which trainers encourage exercisers to achieve optimal results on the treadmill or elliptical.
The trainers supplement the group workouts with nutritional planning centered around the concept of eating six small, balanced meals six days a week. They set aside the seventh day as a "free day" for a bit of indulgence, be it eating a favorite sweet or lusting openly after bacon. To hold their women accountable, trainers talk nutrition on the floor during scheduled appointments, and the ladies' progress toward reaching their goals is measured by trainers each week.
According to TriYoga Boston’s certified instructors, yoga has many faces. It’s a meditative practice that can inspire spiritual growth. It’s a tool for breathing more effectively and clearing the mind. Like lap-swimming in a moat, it’s an ancient exercise system that promotes strength and fluid movement. In a classroom with wooden floors, oversize windows, and recessed lighting, students practice guided relaxation, chants, and traditional poses. Each flow syncs with rhythmic breathwork and focus-building exercises. Seven levels of classes accommodate students of all abilities, from absolute beginners to yogis training to teach. Slow-paced Basics classes help novices build a strong foundation. In addition to emphasizing safety, these classes cultivate comfort with props such as bolsters, blocks, and pillows. As a complement to yoga classes, the studio offers one-on-one massage and yoga-therapy appointments.
When entering and exiting the studio, students can unwind at a meditation garden with a waterfall. The space makes an excellent spot for soaking up sunbeams or discussing the many innovations of TriYoga founder Kali Ray, whose experience with spontaneous, Kundalini-inspired Hatha yoga flows have shaped the studio and its classes.
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.
Tiffany Sarkissian wasn't happy with the accessibility of the workout regimens she was teaching, so she invented her own. Combining her three passions—yoga, ballet, and core-strengthening—she created "floga," a gentle workout suitable for students of all fitness levels. Backed by her staff of certified instructors, Tiffany leads pupils through floga's series of Vinyasa yoga postures, stretches, and balance exercises—all of which are designed to boost core strength, elongate muscles, and improve flexibility. Each workout plays stimulating music and, like a pratfall down the stairs and into your bedroom, concludes with a tranquil resting period. The instructors also lead lively Zumba sessions and outdoor boot-camp classes.
Light streams in through the studio windows, bouncing off the painted brick walls and illuminating the yogis—each like a cat arching its back in a sunbeam—stretching on the hardwood floor. At Shiva Shakti Yoga Center, instructors, each with at least 500 hours of training, tailor each 60- to 90-minute yoga class to accommodate the needs of students of all experience levels. Drawing on such methods as hatha, Vinyasa, vigorous, restorative, and Anusara, the dynamic of fluid sessions help strengthen muscles and center minds for yogis of all kinds. The studio also hosts occasional workshops with guest teachers to keep bodies limber through varied regimens.