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.
There aren't too many places that kids, teens, adults, and seniors can all enjoy equally. Among that small number, though, is Quillian Recreation Center, which has hosted all-ages recreational activities since 1958?the same year the U.S. declared hobbies legal. Anchored by a caring staff, the facility's features include two lighted softball fields, fitness trails, soccer fields, and an aquatic venue with a diving board and slides. And that's just outside; inside, Quillian boasts a gymnasium, a game room, and even a climbing wall. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the facility year-round, though the center does offer special summer programs and summer camps for kids and teens.
Inside Texas Rock Gym, over 14,000 square feet of climbable surface wait to be gripped and clambered over by novice and expert climbers, who navigate routes that are regularly altered to keep things fresh. The gym’s mandatory orientation ensures that each visitor observes proper safety measures during their climb. Following orientation, climbers can strap themselves to a harness at one of more than 40 rope stations and begin top-rope climbing up lofty heights, while more advanced climbers lead trips up over complex courses or the stone faces of former presidents. Climbers can also skip the harnesses altogether and try their hand at bouldering across height-restricted surfaces, or head to one of the gym’s Tai Chi or Yoga classes.
Get Active! Get Social! helps singles and couples bust out of ruts to discover fun activities throughout the city, designing outings so that members make new friends as they go. "We like to think of ourselves as a downtown social club," says the event leader. She's in charge of organizing an itinerary of three or more activities per week that range from private cocktail parties and theater outings to skydiving and weekly social dance classes. Here, members connect through genres of Latin, swing, and country/western, which rotate on a monthly basis. "We strongly believe in the 'Live, Work and Play' motto," she says, "And it's fabulous when you can do it all in the same general area, and build friendships with those in your neighborhood."
Originally developed in France and named art du deplacement, modern-day parkour teaches students how to embrace the full range of natural human movement while imparting a greater sense of control and self-discipline. Urban Movement's parkour classes cater to adults and children as young as 7, giving and give them the skills they need to navigate through natural or manmade areas while overcoming physical obstacles with graceful, fluid, and efficient movements. With their emphasis on running, jumping, climbing, rolling, and more, these indoor and outdoor classes help students develop greater strength, stamina, and balance, as well as mental fortitude and self-confidence. Urban Movement welcomes attendees of virtually any skill and fitness level, creating a safe and supportive environment where people can learn to appreciate, and master the art of parkour.
In Body Evolution's recently renovated gym, rows of traditional cardio machines whir alongside an updated aerobics room and an indoor basketball court. To inaugurate their new square footage, the trainers kicked off a variety of classes, which include Zumba, boot camps, various forms of yoga, and cardio salsa. When not leading personal-training sessions or doling out nutrition advice, the staff keeps the doors unlocked 24 hours a day for all-night access to the circuit- and strength-training equipment. Ramping up results, the staff plugs patrons into a machine-assisted metabolism test that helps make nutritional recommendations such as, "Stop trying to eat this machine." To get families fit together, the gym's Kidz Zone incorporates play and health into programs such as the Wii Fit workout.