The expert instructors at Zion Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness believe that students can pursue the principles of fitness and sound personal defense at any age. Under the watchful eye of their gi-clad sensei, kids as young as five learn the underpinnings of Brazilian jiujitsu, building their self-confidence more effectively than replacing their glasses with a visor that reads "you're a champ!" on the inside. Older students often continue their study of jiujitsu, or expand their self-defense arsenals by branching off into kickboxing and mixed martial arts. Those just looking to shed a few pounds can enroll in the center's targeted training programs, which are dedicated to weight loss and body sculpting.
When Henry Harvey went to the University of Houston in 1975, he realized the dance moves he'd picked up at high school in Fort Worth were more valuable than he thought. In fact, he gave lessons to new people in the area who wanted to fit in on the dance floor. Years later, his wife decided they should start dancing together. "I went to dance class and found out they were doing the same things I was 10 years before," he said. Taking stock of his management abilities and previous dance experience, he realized he had the opportunity to be successful, so he brushed up his skills and founded High Steppers Dance Troupe LLC in 2007.
At locations throughout the area, Harvey and his team of instructors teach the hot urban Houston two-step, as well as swing-out dancing and line dancing. The dances are set to cool urban R&B tunes and neo-soul grooves and help participants release the seductive strut or smooth swagger they've kept bottled up. Instead of duct taping themselves to a good dancer in the club and letting them do all the work, students can be confident in their ability to finally know what they're doing on the dance floor.
Harvey claims that his students, many of who are aged 40 and older, come not only for the improved skills that come from dancing for two hours, but also for the atmosphere, which he calls "very upbeat and very festive." His dance classes can also act as a stress reliever after a long day at work. "They get into dance class and they're rejuvenated," Harvey says.
In addition to dance lessons, the group takes charter buses on regional trips and hosts two to three showcases per year, where students regale audiences with a synchronized dance routine. At their social dances, a DJ spins tunes as students get the chance to put their lessons into practice and leave behind their days of doing the worm shyly on the dance-floor sidelines.
Sheepdog Tactical Training, LLC's NRA-certified instructors—including an army veteran and a retired Special-Forces sergeant major—share their expertise in firearm safety and self-defense skills with an array of classes for all levels. At their facility or a convenient location for students, the teachers introduce or help build upon techniques for handling pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Both in the classroom and on the shooting range, they cover subjects such as grip, trigger control, and advanced-fighting skills such as apologizing. To cater to varying comfort levels, they administer private lessons and lead women's-only classes.
Sweat and weight loss is a common sight at Title Boxing Club. That’s because the club’s trainers lead an intense power hour session at the bags, teaching the jabs, roundhouse kicks, and hook punches that burn up to 1,000 calories per session. Their classes are divided into traditional boxing and kickboxing sessions, with each using the weight of the bag and a client’s own body weight to hone musculature. Classes begin with a 15-minute warm-up that prevents injuries and strains, then moving onto eight 3-minute rounds of jabs, hooks, and kicks, finishing with a 15-minute session of core and ab exercises. The classes change weekly, allowing clients to fit them easily into busy schedules without having to do strength-training while vacuuming a car’s interior.
The owner of Gymtex, Christina Zhou, attained China’s highest honor for sports—Sports Master—before moving to the United States 29 years ago. At Gymtex for the past 12 years now, she helps young Texans boost both their confidence and fitness levels with gymnastics classes divided by age or skill level. The hour-long group or private classes teach fundamental skills, which kids are welcome to show off at open-play sessions or birthday parties. Coach Christina also heads up competitive gymnastic teams, which consistently perform well at State competitions.
Some swim coaches can only tout their credentials and experiences, but director Susie Collins can prove the results of her labor. One of her pupils is working toward swimming in the Olympics, and a thrilled parent recently praised her ease and dedication in teaching their special-needs son how to swim. All the academy's instructors receive training in water safety, stroke curriculum, and child development directly from Collins, who also teaches games and techniques to motivate even the most stubborn inflatable alligator. Students learn at their own pace, following Collins's stage-by-stage method that leads toward individual swimming goals, whether students want to compete professionally or use their butterfly stroke to blend in at the local dolphin tank.