At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
Pieces by local artists, yoga demonstrations looping on a flat-screen TV, and comfy furniture all line the sun-soaked lobby at Bikram Yoga Sugar Land. The waiting area exudes the same soothing vibes students find inside the studio, where teachers lead 90-minute yoga sessions. Each class consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, which pupils of all ages and body types enact in a room heated between 105 and 107 degrees. The heat helps bodies stretch during the intensive cardiovascular workout, which burns calories, melts away stress, and increases flexibility.
If that sounds overwhelming, don't fret––the studio hosts beginner's classes several times a day, and supplies helpful info for first timers. Bikram Yoga Sugar Land even offers courses for kids, special-needs children, and babysitting for moms. Once class lets out, students can enjoy one of the studio's relaxing spa treatments, which range from massage therapy to organic facials.
No man is an island, but you can still develop muscles that are hard as rock. The personal trainers at One2One Training Center have helped everyone from professional athletes to body builders get into the best shape of their lives. Anyone who goes through One2One's fitness program—natural athlete or otherwise—must be willing to admit the following: "I can't do it all by myself." With a dedicated staff of trainers so close at hand, that's not such a bad thing. Trainers work with individual clients to develop realistic fitness goals, then follow through with the help of advanced exercise equipment at one of three local facilities.
At Yoga West, experienced, dedicated instructors promote healthy, centered lifestyles with sessions that unite the mind and body within a nurturing environment that emphasizes community, not competition. Owner Kristin Abel—whose motto is "It's just yoga"—welcomes patrons of all ages, shapes, and skill levels to ease into the relaxing world of yoga at their own pace, learning to release stress while having fun and getting fit. In classes suited to those who are stretching across the mat for the first time to advanced yogis, Abel and her team of dedicated instructors foster the release of toxins as students flow through Vinyasa's series of poses or stretch and soothe the body in restorative-yoga classes. The instructors also lead sensual belly-dancing classes and TRX resistance classes to bolster core muscles and cardiovascular systems without the need to jog with a giant sloth clinging to your back.
At the various Dahn Yoga studios throughout the country, it's quite common to see people bouncing up and down while hitting their abdomens with closed fists. Like the fighter who pumps himself up by pounding his chest before a big fight, the students perform this movement to help warm up their bodies and prepare them for a Dahn Yoga class. Practitioners believe the repeated fist taps concentrate energy in their abdomen and help them focus.
Next, they move on to more traditional yoga moves that help stretch and strengthen the body, as well as improve balance and boost circulation. Classes wrap up with a variety of energy work and meditation techniques, including brain-wave-vibration therapy and jigam—which helps practitioners quiet their minds and take a break from trying to figure out which really came first: the chicken or the egg?
This type of East Asian energy work drives Dahn Yoga, helping its participants create more balanced lives and enhance their overall feelings of well-being. Because it doesn't follow a strict set of yoga poses, but relies instead on mind-body exercises, Dahn Yoga is good for people of all ages, body types, and fitness levels.
Sometimes it seems that timeless movies and holiday meals are the only way to simultaneously entertain three generations at once, but CrossFit Caveman adds a third activity to the mix: going to the gym. There, certified coaches engage entire families in fun workouts, scaling movements to suit everyone from grandparents to 3-year-olds. Each CrossFit routine incorporates exercises modeled off of real-life actions: pushing, jumping, running, and changing a monster truck’s tire, for example. Students master these techniques during introductory sessions before reporting to mainstream classes that hone their form and tone muscles through weightlifting, gymnastics maneuvers, and calisthenics.
Owners Sharon and Ray welcome clients of all sizes to their "cave." They and their staff—which includes sports enthusiasts, a Navy drill instructor, and a CrossFit Havoc Strongman competitor—push their students to achieve milestones that once seemed incredible, such as completing a series of chin-ups or using a kettlebell for something other than a parking-space saver. In addition to their regular curriculum, they host classes for kids aged 3–12, as well as sport-specific regimens and women-only sessions.