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.
Sports International's football clinics make MVPs of 7- to 18-year-olds in an intensive, small-group setting with instruction from college and high school coaching staff. The Steve Slaton two-day camp, running July 10–11 in Sugar Land, gives potential pigskin purveyors a comprehensive crash course in offensive and defensive skills from renowned Texans running back Steve Slaton, talented high-school coaches, and a mob of disgruntled footballs. Working in groups no larger than 10, nascent Heisman candidates perform many of the same drills taught by the Texans' coaching staff. Attendees receive a free camp T-shirt and souvenir autograph football but must provide, rent, or manufacture their own playing gear.
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.
Karen Mones's passion for fitness began at a young age, exercising to Jane Fonda videos with her mother. She went on to play softball, earn her bachelor's in exercise and sports science, and obtain six instructor certifications in everything from yoga to strength training. She founded Houston Adventure Boot Camp to share her knowledge and passion for fitness with as many people as possible.
She and her trainers create different regimens each day, taking advantage of the city's natural spaces and natural forces to enhance their workouts. They challenge gravity by having students lift their own bodyweight or free weights. Students plow through the heaviest friction the air can throw at them in sprints, and they hold up under constant pressure from the sun to nap in the middle of a field.
Tucked inside the Greatwood Training Center, Performance Pilates is helmed by Cody Robbins and Michelle Haver, both seasoned benders holding certifications from Peak Pilates. Students slowly adapt to the core-strengthening rigors of Pilates in beginners' classes before moving up to challenge themselves in mixed-level mat classes or on equipment such as reformers, cadillac towers, chairs, and barrels. Group classes top out at four participants to ensure individualized attention and even teams for the trivia portion of class, though Performance Pilates also offers private one-on-one sessions for those who desire additional direction in their practice.