In an effort to raise money for wildlife relief efforts, The Houston Zombie Walk of 2011 rounds up costumed participants for a mile-long loop around downtown. At 5 p.m. on September 24, the gates will open at Jones Plaza, where entertainment options include three bands, a zombie dance crew, a Halloween DJ, and cooking demonstrations that show ideal pairings for brains. The walk itself lasts from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and participants may bring controlled canines. After the plaza closes at 10 p.m., revelers can continue on to zombie-friendly bars that serve up drink specials and host headless can-can dancers.
Within Space City Rock Climbing's 5,000-square-foot gym, a team of seasoned climbers recreate a variety of scalable surfaces—vertical faces, overhangs, or a neighbor's brick siding among them—to challenge climbers of every experience level. While climbing, 23 belay stations sit atop 25-foot-high routes, giving guests an opportunity to sharpen their top-roping skills. For a different kind of challenge, the gym's walls also provide opportunities for lead climbing and bouldering. When not supervising open climbs, Space City's staff organizes camps and group events including birthday parties and lock-ins. A family-friendly operation, Space City's facility caters to kids with Moonwalk inflatable bounce houses and slides.
The seasoned paranormal investigators at the Spirit Quest Center instruct burgeoning ghostbusters in the art of spectral detection on its spine-tingling Spring Ghost Tour. Before embarking into the ectoplasmic world, Spirit Quest preps spirit walkers ages 10 and older with a Ghost Hunting 101 lesson. Students learn investigation techniques such as detecting magnetic-field disturbances, using dowsing rods to communicate directly with specters, and uncovering electric voice phenomena (EVP) in digital recordings that capture the kelpie vibrato of karaoke phantasms. A professional paranormal investigator then leads the tour past some of Old Town Spring's oldest buildings, regaling the fascinating history of the vexed settlement with frequent stops for ghostly apparitions and interaction. During the 2.5- to three-hour tour, phantom pursuers may get the chance to chat with the poltergeists through the medium’s translation, asking questions about ghostly life and what it’s like to hang out with Elvis.
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.
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."
The reformer Pilates instructors at Pilates Powerhouse whip bodies into tip-top shape with three one-hour reformer Pilates classes (a $35 value each). The core-strengthening sessions, which accommodate humans of all body types and abilities, employ resistance equipment to build sleek, toned muscles and increase flexibility, coordination, and the endurance necessary to mambo backward in roller skates. Intimate three-person classes allow vigilant instructors to ensure trainees stay in proper form and don't cheat on mandatory astrophysics exams, and an emphasis on proper breathing de-stresses frazzled pupils.
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.