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.
Dahn Yoga integrates Korean Taoist philosophies and holistic Korean Oriental medicine into a form of yoga that strives to forge stronger connections between mind and body. The certified instructors at Dahn Yoga adhere to these ancient practices and help students of all ages and fitness levels develop core strength, which, according to Dahn philosophy, is the basis of physical, mental, and spiritual health. Through classes, private lessons, and workshops, students learn to link postures with breath control, ultimately developing greater bodily awareness. Besides improving flexibility, strength, and posture, instructors also emphasize the brain's role in overall well-being. They lead brain exercises that challenge and sharpen the mind to develop more productive habits and levitate pennies out of mall fountains.
Dahn Yoga's founder, Ilchi Lee, also built a comprehensive brain-development program—called Brain Education—from the principles upon which Dahn Yoga is founded. Combining physical, emotional, and cognitive exercises with guided imagery and games, Dahn Yoga's instructors develop emotional control, improve communication between the brain's hemispheres, and inspire guests take decisive action. This program has five progressive steps that can be applied to a dedicated yoga practice as well as everyday life.
Within a wood-floored studio jam-packed with exercise balls and resistance machines, certified trainers Amanda Kemp-Grant and Caroline Soul work to create a welcoming atmosphere where students of all shapes and sizes can work toward their goals of losing weight, toning up, or figuring out the location to Joseph Pilates' hidden treasure. The duo combine their wealth of experience—which collectively includes backgrounds in Pilates, yoga, spinning, body building, and a bouquet of other modalities—to craft and helm a selection of dynamic classes that includes mat-based Pilates, machine-based Pilates, indoor cycling, and ballet-inspired barre.
In addition to being the owner of Pure Body Studio, Heather Erdmann is a self-proclaimed "body mechanics problem solver." The designation is more than just a clever reference to the fact that torsos look like sideways minus signs—Erdmann studied physical therapy and body work, then began applying her knowledge to Pilates and Safe Spine techniques. The result: she helps her clients improve their posture, recover from injuries, and reduce chronic pain, all while boosting their overall physical condition.
Intention, attitude, and motivation. All three notions are important at The Good Space Pilates and Yoga Studio, where the experienced instructors help students connect mind and body while improving overall health and fitness. One important aspect of the staff's intention: to transform negative behaviors or thoughts into positive ones, boosting self-esteem. Through the flexibility challenges of yoga, the strength-building nature of Pilates, and the heart-pumping workouts of cardio, students can improve their ability to lunge for a car, lift it, and run it across the country without stopping for gas—certainly boosting self-esteem in the process.
The staff that takes up the mission of honing intention, attitude, and motivation is a large and well-trained group, pooling decades of experience and backgrounds as diverse as dance and nutrition. They make a wide variety of yoga and Pilates classes available, including restorative, flow, and vinyasa dance yoga classes plus mat and reformer Pilates sessions.
At Yoga West, experienced, dedicated instructors promote healthy, centered lifestyles with sessions that unite the mind and body within a nurturing environment that emphasizes community, not competition. Owner Kristin Abel—whose motto is "It's just yoga"—welcomes patrons of all ages, shapes, and skill levels to ease into the relaxing world of yoga at their own pace, learning to release stress while having fun and getting fit. In classes suited to those who are stretching across the mat for the first time to advanced yogis, Abel and her team of dedicated instructors foster the release of toxins as students flow through Vinyasa's series of poses or stretch and soothe the body in restorative-yoga classes. The instructors also lead sensual belly-dancing classes and TRX resistance classes to bolster core muscles and cardiovascular systems without the need to jog with a giant sloth clinging to your back.
Jennifer Buergermeister is very flexible. She not only moves from job to job—she's an entrepreneur, independent filmmaker, spiritual healer, and app designer—but also from pose to pose while teaching yoga. She has created two yoga DVDs and has a third coming out in November. She's also the owner of Jennyoga, where she works with a deep bench of fellow yoga teachers, offering a variety of classes for all levels. These include Sunrise and Awakening, Hatha Flow, and Deep Relaxation and Restorative yoga classes.
The team at Jennyoga strives to make coming to the studio easy. They built a Jennyoga app for mobile devices that allows students to schedule classes on the fly. And they run an in-house store, where visitors can pick up any yoga gear they might need before heading into one of the studios. They even made a short film to inspire attendance, a sort of narrative commercial about the beneficial effects of yoga in our noisy, modern world where neighbors rev motorcycle engines and fire alarms scream in delight whenever you get home.