Tag Archives: Beacon Hill

REPS Opening New Fitness Studio

REPS new studio

(This article originally appeared in Beacon Hill Patch on May 2, 2019, and in Beacon Hill Times on May 3, 2019.)

In 2011, when Renvil Doman opened his first fitness studio in Beacon Hill, he sensed that it was the start of something big. The local entrepreneur and personal trainer aimed to expand his business and motivate clients to stay in shape while having fun.

Eight years later, the owner of REPS Fitness Studio and Beacon Hill Yoga, continues to realize his original vision for a community workout hub and fitness empire. On May 4, Doman will open the newest branch, located at 319 Cambridge Street. The other locations are 57 Phillips Street in Beacon Hill and 781 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

Renvil Doman

“Being a part of this community is important to me, and I love helping people through fitness,” he says, pumping his fists and flashing a megawatt smile. “At REPS we are all about getting people from different walks of life to improve their health and well-being.”

The 2600-square-foot space, located above Harvard Gardens restaurant, is considerably larger than the other three locations but bears a striking resemblance to them. It boasts the recognizable REPS logo and orange, gray and white color scheme. Visitors will also find the same workout gear—including stationary bikes, kettlebells and medicine balls—and similar upbeat music playlists during workouts.

This boutique studio has additional amenities to match its updated style. Designed with more of a night-club vibe in mind, it includes several speakers, subwoofers, strobe lights and a fog machine. For the more competitive bikers and those who choose to opt in, Doman has lined the front wall with leaderboards to help track progress, distance and speed. He has also maximized the extra space and installed lockers for patron use.

“I want people to feel like they can come here and spend a good hour getting the best workout,” says Doman. “And I want them to enjoy themselves while pushing their limits.”

REPS studio treadmills

REPS offers pre-package sale options for classes and personal training. Drop-in rates are also available for last-minute exercisers attending fitness classes.

The grand-opening party will be held at the studio Saturday, May 4, 8am-3:30pm; and Sunday, May 5, 9am-3:30pm. The celebration is open to the public and will include refreshments and free REPSCYCLE and KORECYCLE classes. The classes are available to everyone, but spots are limited and online registration is required.

For more information, visit www.reps57.com

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Charles Sumner Bicentennial

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Charles Sumner is pictured here with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a famous poet, Harvard professor and Sumner’s best friend. (Photos courtesy of Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site)

 

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Charles Sumner, a Harvard-educated abolitionist and statesman, has been honored in a number of bicentennial celebrations this year.

Few people may realize that the statue seated on the traffic island on Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square is a replica of Charles Sumner. Even fewer may know who Sumner was or appreciate his contributions to the abolition of slavery.

Two hundred years after his birth, the Charles Sumner Bicentennial Committee is attempting to revive Sumner’s historical celebrity by promoting his work and educating the public about his civil rights activism.

Since Jan. 6, Sumner’s actual birthday, the committee has held various events to celebrate the life and historical significance of the Harvard-educated abolitionist and Massachusetts statesman. The most recent gathering was the forum held last month at the First Parish Universalist Unitarian Church in Harvard Square.

Spearheaded by the National Park Service, the Bicentennial Committee is comprised of the Boston African American National Historic Site, Cambridge Forum, Friends of the Longfellow House, Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery, Harvard University, Longfellow National Historic Site, Massachusetts Historical Society and the Museum of African American History.

A week before the forum, dozens of supporters gathered in front of the church in the rain for the preliminary dedication to Sumner. Several students from the Haggerty School recited the poem “Charles Sumner,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the famous poet, Harvard professor and Sumner’s best friend.

Nancy Jones, a park ranger from the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, in Cambridge, led a ceremony rededicating the Sumner statue, and placed a bouquet of flowers next to the seated figure.

The statue in Harvard Square was designed by Anne Whitney in 1875, but was not installed until the 20th century.

The Boston Art Committee held a national competition for the design of the Charles Sumner memorial statue. All entries were made anonymously and the committee did not realize that a woman sculpted the figure.

When the committee discovered Whitney’s identity, it denied her the award, claiming that “a woman could not properly model a man’s legs.” The prize then went to Thomas Ball, whose statue of Sumner is located in Boston’s Public Garden.

Whitney resumed her project 25 years later and produced a full-size bronze cast statue, which was eventually installed in its current Harvard Square location in 1902.

After the dedication, the crowd poured into the church to hear the panel’s presentation. Three speakers shared biographical information, anecdotes and opinions about Sumner and the political issues dominating the political and social climate of his time.

During the second half of the forum, audience members asked questions about Sumner and his contemporaries.

John Stauffer, Harvard professor of African American studies and Chair of the History of American Civilization, moderated the discussion. The other two panelists included Daniel Coquilette, a Harvard Law School visiting professor, and Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket.

The three shared detailed information about Sumner, who was born in Boston and grew up in a multiracial neighborhood in Beacon Hill. Sumner’s father, Charles Pinckney Sumner, was the sheriff of Suffolk County and an ardent anti-slavery activist.

“This is one of the greatest men in U.S. history,” said Coquillette. “Why is he not regarded as such like Lincoln?”

Answering his own question, Coquillette claims that race relations over the years have continued to keep Sumner a divided figure. “Even after nearly two centuries, Sumner is still constantly under attack and his causes are, as well,” he said.

“The Civil War was not about states’ rights,” Coquillette continued. “It was about slavery. And if anyone wants to take me on about this, I am ready.”

The half-joking statement invoked chuckles from the pews. However, no one challenged his claim.

Coquillette went on to describe the notoriously violent altercation between Sumner and South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks. Sumner had made outspoken and insulting remarks about Brooks’ cousin, Sen. Andrew Butler, and his proverbial “mistress,” slavery. In 1856, Brooks severely beat Sumner with his cane on the floor of the United States Senate.

Sumner took three years to recover from his injuries and returned to the senate in 1859. Despite the setback, he resumed his efforts in the anti-slavery movement, garnering the reputation as a rude, outspoken, shrill extremist with radical views on civil liberties.

“The division of North and South was evident that day in the senate,” said Coquillette. “Preston Brooks never went to jail for his violence … he was a coward through and through.”

When asked about the influence of Sumner’s upbringing on the rest of his life, Morgan-Welch underscored the connection between the two.

“Growing up in that integrated community really formed him,” she said. “Blacks in Beacon Hill knew whites of great prominence and helped put them in those very positions of power.”

Coquillette added, “[Sumner] was true to his upbringing and neighborhood. He had exposure to high society, traveled around Europe and spoke many languages, but he never forgot his roots.”

An audience member reiterated the issue of Sumner’s obscure reputation, asking why the public isn’t as familiar with him as with other historical figures.

Coquillette replied, “Charles Sumner is not a household name because what the argument was then continues today. We haven’t confronted it yet. His greatness is tied up in the problems we face today as a divided nation.”

Morgan-Welch agreed, likening the North and South during The Civil War to modern day “blue” and “red” states. “There are still many people who argue how brash and rude the abolitionists were, as though slavery were a good idea. There is still a lot of debate about it.”

Stauffer summed up the discussion by adding, “The respect afforded [Sumner] in Congress contradicts the image of a shrill, unbending, difficult person. He was demonized by many historians, particularly in the South, and is still a controversial figure.”

 

(This article originally appeared in the June 2, 2011 issue of The Bay State Banner.)

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