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.
When Southwest Houston Adventure Boot Camp’s owner and head trainer, Stacy Agee, chose her team of certified personal trainers, she knew she would need a deep bench. As a former college and semipro basketball player and a two-time MVP on the Houston Energy women’s football team, she understood the value in building a team with diverse skill sets that play to the strengths of the others. To that end, she recruited Kim, a veterinarian turned certified trainer and rehab specialist; Darrin, a father, marathon and triathlon runner, and boxing instructor; June, a yogi and tai chi practitioner; and TJ, a trainer with a love of plyometrics.
These coaches draw from specialized backgrounds in personal training, Pilates and yoga instruction, massage, and mixed martial arts to design a range of workouts that change constantly, much like every encyclopedia once time travel is invented. In each of their four-week outdoor fitness programs, comprised of 20 one-hour sessions scheduled for early morning, mid-morning, or evening, they train participants of all genders, ages, and fitness levels. They foster a noncompetitive, support group atmosphere with a personal training feel.
The D4L 5K Zombie Mud Run challenges its participants to think the unthinkable: “Could I survive a zombie apocalypse?” Throughout the 5K mud-slicked course, only the savviest runners will maintain their humanity, dodging hordes of the undead and navigating strength- and agility-testing obstacles. Runners start with three flags that represent their life force. Those who can keep at least one flag safe from the zombies’ corpsey clutches remain human, and those who lose them all make the harrowing transformation into a brain-hungry zombie. But the D4L 5K Zombie Mud Run is more than a grueling race; it’s also an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest zombie gathering on Earth.
After the race, every participant’s name is entered in a drawing for the grand prize—a trip for two to Las Vegas—and event hosts dole out speed prizes to those with at least one flag remaining. Zombies also compete for a set of undead awards and strut very, very slowly in a zombie beauty pageant.
Teachers at Bikram Hot Yoga Sugar Land lead students through invigorating Hatha yoga classes that rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. Trained and certified by bikram yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, they host stretch sessions inside a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. This balmy environment lets students go deeper into classic Hatha yoga poses, as well as boosting circulation and flushing toxins from the body. As they grow and develop their practice, students may begin to enjoy some of yoga's many health benefits, which can include weight loss, increased strength and flexibility, and speedier healing.
The true impact of yoga goes beyond physical health. The owners, who have been practicing yoga for more than 50 years, cultivate a spa-like environment inside the studio, encouraging visitors to leave their everyday worries and cares outside. They and their staff strive to support students as they reach for personal goals, optimum health, and a fully lived life.
Toned, fit, and highly experienced trainers share their expertise with others at United Cross Training. Amid vibrant graffiti-splashed walls and soft turf floors, the team of certified instructors motivate students to push themselves to their limits in high-intensity cross-training-style workouts, boot-camp classes, and personal-training sessions. They also conduct cardio dance classes, which channel the vivacious steps of salsa, hip-hop, and contemporary styles. To supplement workouts, their nutritional specialists craft meal plans to accommodate varying health levels and restrictive dietary issues, such as high blood pressure and reoccurring nightmares about man-eating arugula.
At Leadership Fit, ISSA-certified personal trainer Eric Banks rules with an encouraging fist. During boot camp and personal-training sessions, he motivates exercisers through an assortment of football, weightlifting, and track and field drills. To complement the workouts, he also offers wellness coaching. In addition to providing a fitness plan, wellness coaching provides a meal plan that shows exercisers how many calories and grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates they need to eat each day and how many they need to throw at the ice-cream man.