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 kindhearted grassroots gallopers at the ninth annual Run To Cure HD race and Team Hope Walk have lunged and leapt to raise awareness and needed funds to fight Huntington's Disease. After registering, runners and walkers can pick up their race packets at Luke's Locker on Thursday, October 14 (see the sidebar), or on the day of the race from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Whether you choose competitive run, run for fun, walk, or moonwalk, you can sweat comfortably knowing that every limb movement goes toward a good cause. Compare times, goodie bags, and calf-flexes at the post-race party, where you're open to dive into a vat of complimentary snacks and beverages. Competitive female and male champions will take home the Shirley Whitley Memorial grand prize, which awards each with an expense-paid trip to the Carlsbad Marathon in San Diego, taking place in January.
In Houston, September beats out July and August for the hottest month of the year—it has nothing to do with the weather, however. The culprit behind the elevated heat level is the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. This annual event brings together exhibitors from across the country to sell and hand out samples of their signature hot sauces, salsas, jams, dips, and other spicy foods. Luckily, vendors also supply plenty of cool beverages, thus eliminating the need for bite-size fire extinguishers.
Live entertainment complements the spicy goods. Blues artists, jazz bands, and other musician play throughout the festival, and each day brings special events, such as salsa eating competitions or fire eating performances.
It's hard to pigeon-hole the cuisine of Texas into just one style of food. The large state is home to people from a wide range of cultures, and its cuisine reflects these Mexican, German, Creole, African, and Native American influences. In order to show off the true flavors of Texas, Texas Mesquite Grill's owner, Austin Yates, opted to serve everything from rib eyes hot off the mesquite grill to sizzling enchiladas to chicken-fried steak.
Whether it's a Texas quail kissed with a chipotle glaze or fish tacos flecked with a creole sauce, no dish truly evokes the flavors of Texas until it's paired with a beer, so Texas Mesquite Grill serves up 21 different beers on draft. The bartenders even make a version of their classic margarita with a splash of Corona, creating a beachy drink that's more refreshing than a tall glass of water with salt poured into it.
Jump & Joy amps up the action at any kid's party with inflatable bounce houses and slides. Partygoers leap around inside bounce houses printed with popular characters from movies, tv, and Newsweek, and kids can also splash down thrilling slides. All inflatables have been designed with extensive safety features, such as ramps and screen mesh, and they're disinfected after every rental. Staff also creates themed packages that not only include a bounce-house rental, but also a party attendant, sweet treats, music, and decorations.
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 Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center conceals a chilly oasis for winter-sports fans to practice and have fun all year long, whether it's the day after Christmas or a steamy 100-degree afternoon in July. Between its two rinks, the center hosts staff-supervised public-skating sessions nearly every day in addition to a wide range of youth and adult hockey events—including practices for the former AHL champion Houston Aeros. Inside Rink A, a spacious seating area and café invites visitors to break from their icy escapades and reenergize with a snack. Also away from the ice, the onsite pro shop sharpens blades and repairs skates so clients can carve their way across rinks and the halls of imposing ice castles.