At Sound Fitness, one can almost hear the calories sizzle. Ample rows of bikes, ellipticals, and other cardio equipment let guests build strong, healthy hearts without feeling pressured to give up their machines to other guests or movie cops needing to commandeer treadmills. To propel exercisers toward their goals, certified personal trainers plot custom workout plans and demonstrate how to build specific muscle groups with the free weights and strength-training machines. Babysitters corral pintsize visitors while their parents jog and pedal, and shower-lined locker rooms keep watch over clothes and gym bags to make sure they don't wander home.
The body disciplinarians at Grupo Cafu Capoeira instruct both beginning and experienced pupils in the traditional Brazilian martial art of capoeira, and its svelte mixed-martial-arts arm, Jaguar MMA, instructs in a hybrid styling of various martial-arts methods. Capoeira fuses music, dance, acrobatics, and combat in a fluid mélange that, like holidays with the in-laws, deftly mixes fun with reflexive defense moves. The practice helps to develop strength, grace, and physical confidence, in sessions that last 45 minutes to an hour. Capoeira is complemented by a swift gear change to mixed martial arts, a full-contact fighting system emphasizing adaptability and quick reaction to threats. Martial artists spend five to 10 minutes kindling cool muscle sticks, then 25 to 30 minutes absorbing methods and moves. Sessions in each discipline take place five days a week, mostly in evening; see the separate capoeira schedule and mixed martial arts schedule for full listings.
The year was 1975, and Sam Sann crept alongside his grandmother and sister through the untamed countryside of Cambodia. He and his family were fleeing political insurgents on foot, barely subsisting on snakes and any other sustenance they could find. After four years of wandering, the Sann clan finally made it to Houston, where Sam excelled in cross-country and track. From his post as a staffer at a gym in high school, Sam ascended to personal trainer after graduation and eventually opened Iron Sports Indoor Obstacle Course with the help of his wife, Gabby. Well-known for having a spirit more generous than the secret lovechild of Santa and a fairy godmother, Sam eagerly welcomes up to 60 visitors at a time into his unique two-story obstacle course fitness studio. Exercisers of all skill levels tether themselves to a rope belay system to surmount potholed walls with climbing pegs and then scurry through tunnels at the top of ladders. From ramps for running to monkey bars for swinging, the course offers a unique approach to wellness with fun built in.
The gym also houses traditional cardio and weight machines from Precor and two First Degree Fitness Fluid Cycles XT, which are akin to a bike for the upper body. Instructors, including American Ninja Warrior veteran Drew Drechsel, have backgrounds in sports medicine and fitness, and incorporate the facility's obstacle course and gym equipment into classes such as a year-round boot camp, Kids Fit sessions, and Zumba.
Dahn Yoga integrates Korean Taoist philosophies and holistic Korean Oriental medicine into a form of yoga that strives to forge stronger connections between mind and body. The certified instructors at Dahn Yoga adhere to these ancient practices and help students of all ages and fitness levels develop core strength, which, according to Dahn philosophy, is the basis of physical, mental, and spiritual health. Through classes, private lessons, and workshops, students learn to link postures with breath control, ultimately developing greater bodily awareness. Besides improving flexibility, strength, and posture, instructors also emphasize the brain's role in overall well-being. They lead brain exercises that challenge and sharpen the mind to develop more productive habits and levitate pennies out of mall fountains.
Dahn Yoga's founder, Ilchi Lee, also built a comprehensive brain-development program—called Brain Education—from the principles upon which Dahn Yoga is founded. Combining physical, emotional, and cognitive exercises with guided imagery and games, Dahn Yoga's instructors develop emotional control, improve communication between the brain's hemispheres, and inspire guests take decisive action. This program has five progressive steps that can be applied to a dedicated yoga practice as well as everyday life.
Jennifer Buergermeister is very flexible. She not only moves from job to job—she's an entrepreneur, independent filmmaker, spiritual healer, and app designer—but also from pose to pose while teaching yoga. She has created two yoga DVDs and has a third coming out in November. She's also the owner of Jennyoga, where she works with a deep bench of fellow yoga teachers, offering a variety of classes for all levels. These include Sunrise and Awakening, Hatha Flow, and Deep Relaxation and Restorative yoga classes.
The team at Jennyoga strives to make coming to the studio easy. They built a Jennyoga app for mobile devices that allows students to schedule classes on the fly. And they run an in-house store, where visitors can pick up any yoga gear they might need before heading into one of the studios. They even made a short film to inspire attendance, a sort of narrative commercial about the beneficial effects of yoga in our noisy, modern world where neighbors rev motorcycle engines and fire alarms scream in delight whenever you get home.
“At birth we are given natural ability; our life’s purpose is to build on it.” So goes the motto at BONA Fitness and Wellness. A strategically designed member’s-only workout space, both the Westheimer and Katy locations house a staff of certified personal trainers, “cheerleading” receptionists, and a crew of trainer assistants, each essential to helping clients transform themselves. The expert instruction and team environment makes BONA’s personal training sessions fun and inspiring. But the studio’s true draw is its signature cross-training class, BLAST (Building Lasting Awareness, Stamina, and Tactics). Each BLAST session marries speed, agility, and plyometrics, core and weight training, resulting in one intense heart pumping full-body workout. BLAST classes are for all ages, fitness, and athletic levels. Kid-friendly instructors dole out fun and informative nutritional information at the onsite Kid Zone, putting kids on the right track for a healthy, happy lifestyle. BONA even has its very own nonprofit foundation, dedicated to helping overweight kids discover the joys of healthy habits.