The best of 2012: Health and beauty

From left, Leslie Carter, Auditi Guha, Meaghan Light, Kendahl Light and Brittany Kane take a dip in the giant Japanese-style hot tub at Inman Oasis.

All week long, Metro has been highlighting our selections of the city’s best — from dining spots to nightlife destinations — of 2012. Check back tomorrow as we     honor the best and brightest Bostonians of the year.

Best bootcamp to get your butt kicked at: Beantown Bootcamp

90 Canal St., Boston


The workouts here change from day to day, so your body is always challenged and your mind never bored. The company runs bootcamps for all levels, so the guys behind these classes won’t take any excuses.

Best cheap workout: Gym-it

920 Comm. Ave., Brookline


This fitness center costs about a quarter of other local gyms. There’s no pool, but the facility is clean and well-equipped.

Most creative yoga class: Back Bay Yoga

364 Boylston St., Boston


This studio offers more than 75 classes a week, from beginner to core to vinyasa flow. But for something different, try the popular hip-hop yoga class –who needs those relaxing “nature sounds”? Sign up in advance, because these classes fill up quickly.  

Best place to discover ways of bending that you never knew your body could do (which also feel surprisingly good): Be. In Union Yoga

11 Bow St., Somerville


Everybody and their brother offers yoga lessons these days, but they’re hardly all the same. Some instructors are cultish and dogmatic, others are drippy New Age-types overflowing with pseudo-spiritual claptrap, some studios are cliquely and unwelcoming — didn’t you come here to relax? Be. In Union understands you’re just here to learn yoga, and they’re just here to teach it — not judge or preach or tickle your aura. Now that’s relaxing!

Best place for calming down your monkey mind: Shambhala Center

646 Brookline Ave., Brookline


Shambhala, founded by Chogy-am Trungpa, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, teaches Tibe-tan Buddhist meditation techniques in a wholly secular context, utterly free of mystical mumbo-jumbo. Those who wish to go deeper can, but at the outset it’s closer to applied psychology than spirituality of any kind — indeed, the basic Buddhist concept of mindfulness is now widely used in Western psychotherapy. You can pay for their reasonably priced courses or just show up each week for the free meditation night.

Best place to get your chakras realigned: Good Energy Holistic Studio

654 Washington St., Braintree


Whether or not you believe in stuff like chakras, you have to admit that alternative healing seems to work for a lot of people. Even if you think it’s total B.S., Good Energy’s Theresa Ciarfella doesn’t just offer “energy work” techniques like reiki and aromatherapy — she’ll also give you a regular massage, the effects of which should be easier for the skeptic to feel. Then again, maybe you’re such a crumbum about this stuff because your chi is all bunched up — only one way to find out, right?

Best workout without breaking a sweat:Daryl Christopher Wellness Salon and Spa

840 Winter St., Waltham


Nothing beats a workout that you do while lying on a comfy bed, having been massaged with essential oils. Daryl Christopher Wellness Salon and Spa (the non-toxic salon alternative) offers a toning “Workout Facial” that acts on facial muscles, giving a “lift.” Exercise as bliss.

Best place to say, ‘Goodbye cruel world! Hello beautiful skin’: The Beauty Room

at the Patrice Vinci Salon

91 Newbury St., Boston


The Beauty Room at The Pa-trice Vinci Salon is a peaceful hideaway on Newbury, where preternaturally youthful looking aesthetician Kathleen Santora soothes your skin and soul.

Best spot for a body cleanse: Life Alive

765 Mass. Ave., Cambridge


This urban oasis has a hefty mission statement. Long story short, this restaurant and store is passionate about local, orga-nic food. Stop by for rejuvenating juice or stock up on dry foods and probiotics for later.

Best cleanse for those who don’t want to leave the house: The Ripe Stuff


This Weymouth-based company makes juice fasting easy. Freshly made juices are delivered to your door, everything you need to clean out your inner pipes and boost health in one handy carrier.

Best barbershop for bros:  Boston Barber Company

113 Salem St., Boston


This walk-in only North End barber shop has an old-school vibe and all the amenities a guy could ask for: EPSN on the big-screen, good conversation and a leather waiting room. These guys know what they’re doing with a razor and clippers, and look at how much fun they are having in the pic on page 10! A second location just opened in Beacon Hill.

Best place to have a revelation of ‘This isn’t hair, this is art!’: Megan Graham Beauty

115 Newbury St., Ste. 401 Boston, 617-236-8100

Megan Graham is an artist-turned-hair painter — sorry, colorist. Megan Graham Beauty is her studio — sorry, salon. Apparently, back in the day, Newbury Street was packed with artists’ studios. Well, now it’s packed with salons.

Longest wait for a haircut that is totally worth that wait: Revive Hair Studio

670 Tremont St., Boston


The wait for an appointment here averages three months, so you might want to find something to do in the meantime. But there’s a reason it’s so long: They’re just that good. The studio’s Yelp page is plastered with five-star raves — not just for the cuts, but also for the amiable personalities of the staff. They’ll donate your hair to Locks of Love if you so choose — and you might as well, since it’s either that or the Dumpster of Love out back.  

Most affordable mani/pedi on Newbury: Paradise Nail & Spa

215 Newbury St., Boston


There are at least 10 different nail salons on Newbury Street. How do you choose? This one’s clean, friendly and affordable at $30 for a mani and a pedi –unheard of in this ‘hood.

Best falsies in town: Eyestarr

The Boston Center

170 Comm. Ave., Boston


It’s safe to say that Eyestarr’s falsies  — eyelash extensions, that is — won’t explode in your face at high altitudes. But they do make those peepers POP!

Best place to stock up on goods that might help you actually keep your New Year’s resolution:

Boston Organics

50 Terminal St. #100 Charlestown, 617-242-1700

Can’t beat the convenience of this service that delivers boxes of fresh, locally grown produce to your door each week. Unlike a typical CSA share, customers can set preferences — so you’ll never get stuck with veggies you know you don’t like.

Best dance classes for grown-ups: The Studio

1404 Beacon St., Brookline


Childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina need not die with adulthood. Heck, maybe you were inspired by “Silver Linings Playbook”! This 18+ dance studio runs classes in ballet, tap, jazz, you name it. Tutus aren’t required.

Best place to chill in a hot tub with total strangers: Inman Oasis

243 Hampshire St. Cambridge


Actually, you can do more than just the “enormous hot tub” thing at this bare-bones spa, but that afore-mentioned enormous Japanese hot tub is definitely a big draw. “After about 30 minutes in these jets,” writes one Yelp reviewer, “you come out as relaxed and limber as a cooked noodle.” Just don’t stay in there too long — we’re no spa experts, but common sense dictates it’s best to stay al dente. You can also get a private tub with even more jets or schedule a table massage.

Best salon for people who want a better deal than the kind you might find on Newbury Street:

Empire Beauty School

30 West St., Boston


Broke college coeds come here for legit $8 haircuts by this beauty school’s senior students. They get hands-on training; you get a $15 facial or a $10 shellac manicure.


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