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.
Husband-and-wife team and Prana Power Yoga cofounders Philippe and Taylor Wells foster an environment in which clients can explore holistic wellness through yoga, intensive workshops, and events. Instructors at each heated studio locations roll out the welcome yoga mats, encouraging students of all interests and skill levels, from mothers-to-be to veteran sun saluters, to build strong bodies and peaceful minds in a judgment-free environment. During athletic Vinyasa-style yoga classes, certified instructors crank up temperatures as high as 99 degrees before taking mat mavens through a sequence of sweaty postures linked with mindful breathing exercises designed to boost lung capacity to Sting-like levels. Meanwhile, visitors in search of a transformative experience can attend one of the studio's workshops or events, which range from juice cleanses to destination yoga retreats in Nayarit, Mexico.
Cofounders Jill Tomich and Peter Lavelle had both been active in the fitness world before they opened Ultimate Bootcamp in 2004. Jill threw her energies into boxing, ballet, yoga, and blogging for a wedding diet-and-fitness website, and Peter, a native Irishman, was a triathlete. In all his pursuits, Peter adhered to the motto "We're not here for a long time?we're here for a good time."
This credo infuses all of the boot-camp programs. Campers from all across the fitness spectrum find accommodation as the workouts meet them close to home. Trainers never push too far, but always challenge. An energetic mix of outdoor-resistance and interval training layers patrons in svelte muscle, builds strength, and burns calories to promote weight loss more effectively than a rice cake's PR agent. Far from the stereotypical idea of a boot camp, encouragement and support roll in from instructors who foster cooperation and camaraderie between fellow boot campers.
In Robby Blanchard's biography photo on his website, he prepares to lift a heavily stacked barbell. The determination is clear on his face—the same determination that carried him through a bachelors of science in exercise, an MBA in Business Management, three CrossFit-training certifications in varying styles, not including the fact he's a USA Weightlifting-Certified Sports Performance Coach. Today he shares his determination and all his fitness knowledge with at his training camp, CrossFit Reach.
During workouts, Robby and two other resident coaches push students through an array of exercises that change every session to boost the body's ability to perform in the 10 domains of fitness, which include power, speed, flexibility, and agility. To do so, students might perform exercises requiring them to run, jump, weightlift, and eventually perform all of those elements at once, immediately qualifying them for a life in the circus.
Certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, the staff of climbing instructors at Boston Rock Gym teach torsos how to ascend altitudes with indoor-, outdoor-, and youth-climbing activities. The savvy instructors lead the way around the facility’s more than 40 ropes, which set the stage for both group and private indoor lessons, as well as open climbing sessions in which self-guided climbers reach for neon-colored handgrips while being supported by auto-belay devices. Outdoors, students learn to navigate nature’s authentic slabs during lessons and clinics that start with the basics and graduate up to advanced ice-climb maneuvers. Additionally, the facility’s youth programs cater to smaller grips and aim to boost self-confidence while preparing children for the physical-fitness portion of the SAT.