Boston — and Massachusetts in general — is often voted as one of the fittest and most health-conscious cities in the US. With so many gyms, boot camps, and outdoor opportunities to hike, bike, swim, and boat, Boston certainly is a mecca of exercise.

Lately, there has been a bit of a groundswell in large, multi-use gyms hitting the scene and finding a lot of success. Gyms like Equinox, Boston Sports Club, and now Lifetime have it all, including childcare (always a plus!), hot tubs, outdoor pools, and a bountiful amount of healthy snacks. But, all this often comes at a hefty price point.

Today I want to show some love for some of the lesser-known, niche, and boutique gym opportunities that abound in the city and surrounding suburbs. While these gyms may not have all the bells and whistles, they represent the best in certain types of movement specialties or have other qualities that make them hidden gems and ultra-special — and each have their own price points to accommodate most.

1. Gymnasia (Newton and Waltham)

I have been going to Gymnasia for three years, and I’ve never been happier. With a focus on functional movement patterns, body weight exercises, kettlebells, and FUN, this hidden gem helped me to completely change my relationship with exercise. In addition to being challenging, this gym has helped me understand where my own strength resides and how to tap into those movement patterns. I am doing everything from inversions and bear crawls to somersaults and arm balances — things I never thought I could do. The community is fabulous and is appropriate for all ages, sizes, and abilities. There is an abundance of one-on-one support and coaching even within the group classes. I highly recommend it!

2. H.Y.P. Studio (Needham and Wellesley)

Yoga is definitely trendy right now. We see everything from Hatha, Bikram, Vinyasa, and even naked and goat yoga these days! H.Y.P. is my favorite amid a slew of trendy yoga studios, however. They specialize in warm and hot Vinyasa flow. The instructors are grounded, skilled, and adept at reading the energy in the room and adjusting accordingly. I am challenged with the poses and flow but never feel pressured to perform or push myself beyond how my body is feeling that day, and it’s one of the reasons I love this place. (My favorite instructors are Jenna, Laura, and Masaki.)

3. GymIt (Watertown and Boston)

This family-owned gym has two locations — Watertown and Boston. It takes the no-frills approach to exercise and comes at a really affordable price — $24.99 a month. The Watertown location has an outstanding boxing facility and teaches George Foreman-style boxing classes. The boxing workout contains both traditional boxing training along with high-intensity interval training. Both locations offer locker rooms, strength training, and cardio areas.

4. Exhale (Battery Wharf and Back Bay)

Is it a spa? Is it a gym? Actually, it’s both! Exhale is a self-defined “urban oasis” that offers the best of yoga, cardio, and barre classes. But it also allows tired and stressed moms a way to relax, with a full-service spa, including services like “accu-healing” (acupuncture for stress and pain relief) and acu-organ detox, which combines acupuncture and abdominal massage for cleansing and detoxing.

5. Btone Fitness (Back Bay, Chestnut Hill, Wellesley, South Boston, North End, and Lexington)

This innovative boutique gym offers a unique methodology. Btone combines pilates, yoga, barre, and TRX with its own proprietary equipment and modality, focusing on an effective, yet sustainable approach to fitness — and a one-size-does-NOT-fit-all mentality. As such, they offer customized classes and support to create a workout that works for ALL bodies at any level, age, or ability.

There are so many other great fitness offerings in our area — it was very hard to boil it down to five! Some honorable mentions include:

Stil Studio (Legacy Place)
Inner Strength Studio (Watertown and Sudbury)
Burn (Back Bay and South End)
Recycle Studio (South End)

What did I forget? What boutique gyms have you visited that are making an impact on you? Let us know! And let’s get moving this spring in a way that works for any and all of us.

Jenny Berk
Jenny is a crass and pushy (read = sweet) native New Yorker who has always had a penchant for New England, after attending Brandeis for 4 years, but especially so after meeting her husband Barry, who also happened to live in Boston. After marrying, and creating 3 awesome daughters - ages, 11, 8 and 6 - she and her husband moved to Needham and love it there! Jenny is a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, Mindful Eating Instructor and Wellness blogger. She loves writing about how Mom's can navigate and prioritize their health and positive body image after having children. When she's not trying to figure out how the heck to parent a tween, She can be found blogging at the Huffington Post, (healthy living section) and on her site Heck yes! - mindfulness, kettlebells, body acceptance, yoga, traveling the word and eating decadent and unctuous (vegetarian) food. No way, man! - arthritis at 40, allergies to anything, animal cruelty, waiting in line.


  1. Jenny,
    You should come by Power Rowing in Brookline Village. We are pretty unique…like, super unique. We aren’t simply just a fitness center, we are also a community center, social justice center, and place that is really determined to get you fit (not just burn a few calories and send you home sweaty).

    I have been told we have the highest or among the highest ratings on ClassPass (4.9), come see if it is deserved. Class is on me.

    Bryan (owner)

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