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.
More than three decades have passed since head instructor Bobby Giordano founded American Martial Arts Center. Giordano spent that time earning not one, but five black belts, and learning the ropes of muay thai and jeet kune do. The former bodyguard spreads his expertise to the masses through private martial-arts classes and enlists a staff of talented instructors to amplify the effect. Together they expound practical self-defense techniques designed to preempt attacks in the ring, on the streets, and in grocery-store aisles the day before Thanksgiving. Teachers whip students into shape during mixed-martial-arts, muay thai, Brazilian jujitsu, and kickboxing classes, which are all practiced in a fun, safe environment.
Kids and teens warrant their own kid-friendly branch of the business. Whereas adult classes aim for fitness and skill, the kids’ sessions emphasize values such as self-confidence and self-discipline, which come in handy when betting a punching bag that you won’t punch it.
The instructors at Tokyo Joe's Studios/Dragon's Eye CrossFit know that each day provides new challenges?and so they train their students to face them. One way if through CrossFit classes, which use varied workouts to keep students on their toes as they build strength and endurance. Each workout is designed to prepare participants for any kind of physical exertion they might face, from lifting heavy objects to jumping over hurdles on their morning commute.
On the karate side, kids and adults train in more traditional martial arts forms that have been passed down for centuries. The kids' program focuses on discipline and building self-esteem while teaching kids how to protect themselves from bullies. Adult classes are available too, in which instructors establish basic techniques culled from a variety of disciplines, including tempo, jiujitsu, and MMA.
Overhead lights are illuminated as the sun dips lower on the horizon, casting a glow across duos engaged in baseline rallies that echo across Weston Racquet Club’s eight outdoor courts. Every day, the club’s staffers set up meetings like this between players of similar abilities—staff unconditionally guarantees a suitable partner for individuals any time they are looking for a match. Carefully selected pairs then take to indoor or outdoor courts, which feature cushiony surfaces ideal for players with tender knees or cowardly socks. Members can continue to hone their skills during one of the 30 complimentary tennis clinics offered per week.
Housed inside a restored country mansion originally built in 1858, the clubhouse winds back the clock with an art-deco-inspired interior reminiscent of a 1930s tennis club. After a day on the courts, guests can unwind in the 45,000-gallon heated pool or soothe their aching tennis ear in the hot tub. Weston Racquet Clubs’ 40-Love Café aids in refueling by serving a menu of sandwiches, salads, and tapas.
With a former Oakland Athletic and two ex-minor leaguers on staff, Baseball Unlimited Training Center is a safe haven to help young hitters, pitchers, and fielders take their skills to the next level. The 7,500-square-foot facility houses five separate hitting and pitching tunnels extending to 65 feet in length, suitable for practicing all baseball or softball pitches, except for spitballs or cannonballs. The center hosts ballplayers ranging from little leaguers to college players, who can each take part in camps and clinics or practice individually through batting-cage rentals in 30-minute allotments.
With six distinct courses etched into the New England countryside, Sterling Golf Management promotes pin-hunting recreation for Boston-area golfers of all abilities. The longest and most difficult of the six, The Shattuck Golf Club's 18-hole course kicks off with a 409-yard par 4 where players hack their way toward a green that is visually wreathed by the rising red rocks of Mount Monadnock, setting the tone for a scenic, 6,764-yard round. Groves of trees ensconce the fairways and barter over carbon dioxide at Norwood Country Club's recently renovated course, a relatively flat layout characterized by smallish greens and flanked by a lighted driving range. The newest member to the Sterling Golf Management team is the Rockland course, where 18 par-3 holes wind between tall oaks for a picturesque par-54 round. Designed in 1921 in the Donald Ross tradition is the Maynard Golf Course, a picturesque par 70, 9-hole course with a full-service clubhouse. The same sylvan makeup returns at Newton Commonwealth's course, where lush tree lines cast shadows over a creek as it snakes across the fairways of seven holes. Rounding out the grassy sextet, Chelmsford's nine-hole course takes golfers careening across 2,467 yards of narrow fairways, placing straight drives or skilled golf ball pilots at a premium.