The manmade, 12-acre lake at Wake Nation Houston was designed for wakeboarding, but there's not a single boat on it. Instead, a system of cables and pulleys whisks wakeboarders along the placid surface in much the same way towropes pull astronauts to the moon. Aided by supportive instructors, beginners learn the fundamentals of the sport with the use of a practice cable on a smaller practice pond before taking to the main lake. More advanced aquatic acrobats, meanwhile, soar off floating jumps and slalom around obstacles.
Despite its name, the park isn't exclusively for wakeboarders. Its cables can just as easily haul visitors on kneeboards, water skis, and wake-skates. Water-shy guests can watch their friends from an observation deck, browse the pro shop, or nosh on snacks from the concession stand.
Sea Star Swimschool and Gymnastics Center's instructors guide kids through gymnastics courses, and shepherd students of all ages through swimming lessons designed to build coordination and promote safety in aquatic environments. Eleven levels of swimming lessons craft confident swimmers out of students of any age, with 30-minute lessons combining drills and activities that bolster aquatic prowess without surgically swapping out limbs with paddles. Students are separated by age and ability, with adults separated into beginner and advanced classes covering everything from tackling fear of the water to training for a triathlon in a supportive group atmosphere. Parents and hydrophobic invisible friends can watch children?s lessons in the facility?s viewing area, beaming with pride as their little aquanauts master a variety of strokes and breathing techniques.
The 45-minute gymnastic lessons?held within the 2,000-square-foot gymnastics gym?help kids build the coordination and grace needed to steal cookies from the cookie jar without setting off laser alarm systems. As their parents watch from a viewing area, little ones aged 1?3 learn activities that safely improve flexibility and strength on the gym?s padded floor. Older tots traverse the trampolines, vault, and balance beams. Kids 6 or older can advance to tumbling or classic gymnastics activities on apparatuses such as bar and beam rings, cultivating more confidence in their abilities than a heavyweight champion with the genetic properties of a butterfly and a bee.
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.
Sugar Land Dive Center’s store boasts scuba gear from brands such as Atomic, Oceanic and Sea Life, but their signature product is an intangible: a sense of confidence underwater. The PADI five-star dive center’s courses impart just that. After classroom-based instruction, the center’s open water instructors teach divers to breathe underwater and handle their complex gear by practicing in a pool. The program then culminates in a series of real open water dives, which result in open water certification more useful than its earlier incarnation, certification to open water that’s in an aluminum can.
Sugar Land Dive Center also teaches more specialized courses that can transform open water-certified divers into future rescue divers and PADI instructors. For a fusion of dive practice and vacation, students can also travel the world on international scuba trips, which whisk participants to locales such as Cozumel and Fiji.