The show Cheers was popular when I lived in Boston. Tourists would line up to get inside the former Bull & Finch Pub (only the facade was used in the show). I doubt that the bar, once it began catering to visitors, had the collegial ambiance promised in the theme song: “Sometimes you want to go/Where everybody knows your name/and they’re always glad you came.” I loved the theme song—the notion of a familiar, homey place where you’re recognized.
There are many places where I feel at home—with good friends or family, in various offices surrounded by great co-workers. Yet there is something special about a more casual relationship. My local Pilates studio has been my Cheers for many years. The owner, Jen McWalters (the studio bears her name), has worked hard to build a business I’ve watched expand—in space size, variety of classes and number of teachers. Over the years I have taken Pilates classes with more than 20 different teachers and Jen is by far the best. Aside from her teaching skills, I like the atmosphere she has created: welcoming and homey. Jen remembers everyone, greeting them and offering corrections and encouragement to each person by name. The many long-timers know each other; we chat briefly before and after class, exchanging snippets of our lives. It’s a small investment in time that generates a feeling of good cheer throughout the day.