Fitness Resource Guide

By Casey Lyons | Boston Magazine |

THE ESSENTIAL RESOURCE guide to get you in the best shape of your life, whether you want to box in the toughest rings in town or just dip a toe into the yoga phenomenon.

From Casual to Hardcore…

Running Clubs




Fighting Styles

Read the feature: Body by Boston  You’ve got resolutions. But you’ve also got more excuses than Dunkin’ has donuts, and it’s colder than an iced coffee out there. Your motivation level? Not exactly sky-high. We’re here to help you get in shape!

Casual to Hardcore: Running Clubs

The Most Informal Running Club Ever
Shared goal: Make friends and/or sweat out hangovers.
Runs: Monday nights starting at the Prudential Center; Tuesday track workouts; 3 to 6 miles along the Charles on Saturdays.
Members: 2,200, mostly twenty-somethings who run as a lifestyle rather than for competition.
Cost/Info: Free;
Bonus: Potluck breakfast on Saturdays!

The Somerville Road Runners
Shared goal: Run for fun, beer, competition, or all of the above.
Runs: Monday-night 5K pub runs; Tuesday track workouts; Thursday 4.06-miler; longer runs on Saturdays.
Members:  350, ranging from lifestylers to sub-3-hour marathoners.
Cost/Info: $30 per year (track workouts are an extra $60);
Bonus: Since 2005, the club has raised more than $140,000 for charity.

L Street Running Club
Shared goal: “Ninety percent want to train for the marathon,” founder John MacDermott says of members.
Runs: Tuesday and Thursday fun runs, 6 to 8 miles; long runs of up to 22 miles from various locations around the city on Sunday mornings.
Members: 640, mostly between 30 and 60 years old.
Cost/Info  $45 per year for new members; $25 to renew;
Bonus: Summertime barbecues and a sponsored Thanksgiving run.

Cambridge Running Club
Shared goal: Competition training for current and former athletes (or people who can keep up with them).
Runs: Midweek track workouts; 8- to 20-mile-long runs on weekends.
Members: 200.
Cost/Info: $75–120 per year;
Bonus: Team scoring at USA Track & Field–sanctioned events.


Casual to Hardcore: Gyms

Where: 50 Congress St., Boston,
Type: Circuit-style gym; modern, shiny, and wired.
Average gym-goer: Downtown professionals looking to use their lunch break to maintain health.
Members: 350
Percent that actually go: 70
Percent male/female: 57/43
Most popular class: Boot camp.
Bonus: Endless towels; free high-end toiletries; laundry service. “This is the Financial District,” says trainer Herman Ocasio. “This gym exists because of convenience.”

Where: Locations in the Back Bay, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill, Coolidge Corner, and Salem,
Type: Health club.
Average gym-goer: Ladies only, twenties to sixties.
Members: 3,000 (at the Back Bay location)
Percent that actually go: 75
Percent male/female: 100 female.
Most popular class: Bar sculpt.
Bonus: A eucalyptus steam room; on-site childcare.

Commonwealth Sports Club
Where: 1079 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,
Type: Come one, come all.
Average gym-goer: Half of the members are between 22 and 40, but there are some 90-year-olds.
Members: 2,000
Percent that actually go: 68
Percent male/female: 40/60
Most popular class: Spinning.
Bonus: Indoor saltwater pool; roof-deck pool with lounge area; free parking.

Total Performance Sports
Where:  68 Vine St., Everett,
Type: Three levels filled with highly specialized equipment and Olympic weightlifting platforms.
Average gym-goer: Anyone who wants to get really strong.
Members: 1,000   
Percent that actually go: 100 (per owner)
Percent male/female: 57/43
Most popular class: Gutts and Butts.
Bonus: The Shed, an outbuilding filled with strongman gear.


Casual to Hardcore: Diets

In a nutshell: Meat and potatoes, hold the potatoes.
How it works: Replacing carbs with protein and fiber forces the body to metabolize fat, which causes weight loss with quick initial results.
Sample meal: For dinner, steak grilled with green bell peppers and onions.
Avoid: Sugar, bread, and pasta.
Criticisms: Lacks focus on exercise; a long-term diet rich in saturated fats may contribute to heart disease.
Duration: Forever.

In a nutshell: If it isn’t found in nature, don’t eat it.
How it works: Eating only whole, unprocessed foods eliminates sugar, salt, and excessive fat, which are staples of the typical American diet.
Sample meal: For breakfast, three eggs from cage-free chickens with mushrooms, and a side of bacon made from free-range animals.
Avoid: Anything processed (plus sugar, dairy, and grains).
Criticisms: Free-range meats and organic foods can get spendy.
Duration: Forever.

Juice Cleanse
In a nutshell: Detox and drop weight by not eating.
How it works: Abstaining from solid food allows the body to expel toxins, recover from the relentless stress of digestion, and shed a few pounds.
Sample meal: Filtered water, cashew nut milk, and vanilla.
Avoid: Anything that’s not in the juice.
Criticisms: It comes with a panoply of side effects, including fainting, dizziness, arrhythmia, and vomiting—plus the weight often comes back quickly.
Duration: Typically 3 to 5 days.

In a nutshell: Weight-loss results you can inject.
How it works: Daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (a hormone pregnant women release)and a daily limit of 500 calories trigger the brain to burn fat.
Sample meal: For lunch, 3.5 ounces of tilapia with a side of beet greens.
Avoid: Dairy, carbs, and sugar.
Criticisms: The near-starvation diet produces short-term weight loss, but isn’t sustainable over the long term.
Duration: 23- or 40-day regimens.


Casual to Hardcore: Yoga

Chair Yoga
What: Some (okay, all) advanced yoga poses can look intimidating to newbies—especially to seniors or those with injuries that impair movement. Enter chair yoga, which teaches basic poses and breathing while controlling intensity and the impact on joints.
Where: Blissful Monkey, 663 Centre St., Jamaica Plain,
When: Anytime; classes generally have about five participants.

Slow Flow
What:To maximize yoga’s benefits, you need perfect form. That’s why beginners and advanced students alike hit slow-flow classes, which break down yoga postures into individual movements and focus on alignment.
Where: Exhale Back Bay, 28 Arlington St., Boston,
When: Mornings for company (20 to 25 attend); afternoons for elbow room.

Beginners Bikram 
What: Now that you’ve mastered yoga’s basic moves, you can employ them in a hot (100 to 105 degree) room to detoxify (via sweat), stretch your muscles more easily, and burn more calories. It’s true: Some like it hot.
Where: Bikram Yoga, 30 JFK St., 2nd fl., Cambridge,
When: Anytime; the average class size is 30 (even fewer in the afternoon), but 80 is the max.

Hip-Hop Yoga
What: Yes, some studios are more likely to pipe in unobtrusive classical music, or, worse, Muzak during classes. For those who want more danceable energy than soporific relaxation, there’s this fast-paced class, which improbably blends Vinyasa yoga with Kanye.
Where: Sweat & Soul Yoga, 1032A Commonwealth Ave., Boston,
When: Classes, capped at 30, are busiest during evenings.


Casual to Hardcore: Fighting Styles

What: Active meditation and stress release.
Where: The Boston School of Boabom, 33A Harvard St., Brookline,
Most popular class: Osseous Boabom, an entry-level offering focused on defense movements
and breathing.
Chances of bleeding: Nonexistent (zero contact).
Bonus: Advanced students get to use staffs and other implements.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
What: Grappling and ground fighting, plus chokes and submission moves.
Where: Kimura Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 15 N. Beacon St. Watertown; and other locations;
Most popular class: Beginners, which meets at 6:15 p.m.
Chances of bleeding: Low and accidental.
Bonus: School values fun over aggression, and is kid-friendly.

What: Get in the ring.
Where: Peter Welch’s Gym, 371 Dorchester Ave., Boston,
Most popular class: Fighter Conditioning, a fat-burning workout built around a pro fighter’s regimen.
Chances of bleeding: Fair (sparring is optional).
Bonus: Peter Welch, the owner, is a former Golden Gloves champion.

Mixed Martial Arts
What: Various fighting techniques.
Where: Redline Fight Sports, 614 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge,
Most popular class: Fight or Fitness, which maximizes agility through body-weight exercises, plus combat moves.
Chances of bleeding: Good during sparring.
Bonus: Join the novice team, or watch professional fighters compete.

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