No pain, no gain? We so understand that phrase. Our first day at BodyScapes was a bit of a shock: Our butts were kicked—hard—as one of manager Jerry Labbate's six smiling trainers guided us through a series of squats, lunges, lifts, and sprints so intense we ached for days. But then one morning, two months later, we suddenly awoke with abs. Real, defined abs. And biceps. And calves. And—did we mention?—abs! One Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 2116, bodyscapesinc.com.
Enough with the fruit-and-berry recipes made by all those microbreweries that are (not coincidentally) going out of business left and right. Enough, too, with the endless seasonal brews—even the ones from Tremont. It's time to get back to basics, and the finest basic Boston beer is this one, with its malty, hoppy goodness and light copper hue, now on draft year round in the best Boston-area bars and available in bottles in and around town. MA
The semi-circular oyster bar has been in continuous operation since 1826, with the likes of Daniel Webster tossing back three dozen Blue Points at one sitting.Yes, it's on the Freedom Trail; yes, it's "America's Oldest Restaurant"; and yes, it's one of "Ye Olde" tourist magnets. But, all the hokum aside, it is simply the best place to get a dozen freshly cracked oysters. 41 Union St., Boston, MA .
One part jazz club, one part restaurant, the Beehive is our go-to spot for a laid-back night out on the town. The stellar list of libations (we're fans of the champagne cocktails and the "Apparatus," a Scotch and cognac concoction) and the sophisticated fare are the perfect complement to the musicians onstage. Something to keep in mind: If you want to be at all close to the action, make a reservation—otherwise, you'll be cooling your heels at the bar. 541 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2809, beehiveboston.com.
Last year a new owner added "New" to the name of this steadfastly excellent Chinatown joint. Happily, that appears to have been his only real change. The spicy salt calamari remains one of the city's best takes on tricky-to-cook squid. The XO sauce is still a house specialty, as are the dishes served in citrus-tinged Yu Hsiang sauce. And you will continue to find no fresher fish than the ones pulled from the large tanks that greet you at the door. 5 Hudson St., Boston, MA .
One of the first places in Boston to offer pour-over and cold-brew coffees, Pavement goes well beyond crafting lattes and cappuccinos (although these are fantastic here, too). From the quality Counter Culture beans and complimentary soy milk at the bar to the strong WiFi connection and inviting tufted couches, this is a true coffeehouse experience, one that both java aficionados and on-the-go professionals will savor. 1096 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2115, pavementcoffeehouse.com.
Just when you thought fitness fads had reached their zenith, Helena and Brian Collins turned the notion of working out on its head. Forget long lines for treadmills, aerobic Amazons, and nightclub noise: Synergistics is a calm haven where trainers work one-on-one with clients. The Collins' approach to fitness uses sculpting, balancing, and strengthening programs in addition to Pilates, target eight training, and martial arts techniques. Brian is trained in the art of Huo Tuo Tui-Na, a massage therapy thought to alleviate migraines, lower back pain, and stress-related health problems. 9 Newbury Street, Boston, MA lifeinsynergy.com/.
To those living in eternally up-and-coming Somerville: You may not have solved the public transportation quandary that is Union Square but, boy, are you lucky from a pub-hub perspective. Outfitted in the classy dark-wood stylings of a more upscale joint, the Independent is smartly cleaved into one room for drinkers, one for diners—and manages to do right by both groups. Expect well-executed, moderately priced cuisine, like the béchamel, cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan macaroni and cheese, as well as innovative drink offerings (such as the Sub Rosa: campari, lillet rouge, grapefruit-tarragon vodka, and soda water) that tickle more-alcohol-focused palates. 75 Union Sq., Somerville, MA 2143, theindo.com.
Raise a glass, if you will, to the ever-stunning Oak Bar. It's where sex appeal takes its post-prandial drink, where intimacy lounges in a long, cool black dress. It's where fascination sips a stiff Manhattan. There are mere mortals here, too, in everything from Levi's to tuxedos, huddled in conversation with one another, raiding the cigar-stocked humidor, slugging oysters from the raw bar, and soaking up the live jazz that oozes through the intricately detailed room. No matter who's filling it, the Oak Bar is simply one of the New World's most intoxicating Edwardian settings. 138 St. James Ave., Boston, MA fairmont.com/copley-plaza-boston/dining/oak-long-bar-kitchen/.
If you want a piece of jewelry with a rich history, it only makes sense to buy it from a dealer with a storied past. E.B. Horn opened its doors in 1839 and remains one of the region’s largest buyers of estate pieces. Browse a highly curated selection of unique bling, such as a platinum, sapphire, and diamond bracelet from the art deco era and a 14-karat-gold art nouveau pin. During one visit, gemologist Doug Finn even showed us an antique locket with the pictures still inside. 429 Washington St., Boston, MA 02108, ebhorn.com.
One visit to Trunk Club’s recently opened Boston clubhouse and you’ll be inventing occasions to have a suit made. The swanky digs are just one perk of this personal-styling service’s merger with Nordstrom; another is the access clients have to designer accessories in the department store’s catalog. Sip a cocktail while your stylist takes 26 precise body measurements and then helps you choose everything from the buttons and fabric lining right down to the Gucci loafers. 501 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116, trunkclub.com.
Even by its own cutting-edge standards, the A.R.T. had yet another landmark year, one that began with a searing performance by monologist Anna Deavere Smith about the state of African Americans in school and in prison, and ended with Arrabal, a mesmerizing tango show about one woman's search for her missing father in repressive Argentina. The coming season promises more of the same with the world premiere of Warhol Capote, based on real conversations between the two famous artists. Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, americanrepertorytheater.org.
Martha’s Vineyard is known for many things, from crispy fried clams to breathtaking beaches. But top-notch craft-cocktail bars wasn’t one of them—that is, until 20byNine came along. You can’t go wrong with a Manhattan, which comes close to the classic drink’s platonic ideal. After just one, you might be bold enough to cozy up to your bartender and ask for that day’s “smash,” a rotating off-menu creation. 16 Kennebec Ave., Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, 20bynine.com.
Fitness model Parker Cote has graced dozens of magazine covers, each showcasing his remarkable physique. At his new studio, a 1,600-square-foot space brimming with luxury amenities (a spa-quality restroom and shower area, free Fiji water, and towel service), we can train to cover-model perfection, too. Cote offers semi-private and one-on-one training sessions that incorporate cardio, strength training, and plyometrics. 116 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, parkercotefitness.com.
Not to be confused with those glue-on falsies of yore, lash extensions are painstakingly applied, one by one, to your own lashes. Sound extravagant? Perhaps, but skilled lash masters like Andrea Starr, of Eyestarr, have begun taking extensions from special-occasion accessory to daily must-have. Starr's work is both meticulous and natural-looking. From her bright, sunny shop on Newbury Street, a boldface clientele emerges batting a thousand. 291 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02115, eyestarr.com.