The year was 1975, and Sam Sann crept alongside his grandmother and sister through the untamed countryside of Cambodia. He and his family were fleeing political insurgents on foot, barely subsisting on snakes and any other sustenance they could find. After four years of wandering, the Sann clan finally made it to Houston, where Sam excelled in cross-country and track. From his post as a staffer at a gym in high school, Sam ascended to personal trainer after graduation and eventually opened Iron Sports Indoor Obstacle Course with the help of his wife, Gabby. Well-known for having a spirit more generous than the secret lovechild of Santa and a fairy godmother, Sam eagerly welcomes up to 60 visitors at a time into his unique two-story obstacle course fitness studio. Exercisers of all skill levels tether themselves to a rope belay system to surmount potholed walls with climbing pegs and then scurry through tunnels at the top of ladders. From ramps for running to monkey bars for swinging, the course offers a unique approach to wellness with fun built in.
The gym also houses traditional cardio and weight machines from Precor and two First Degree Fitness Fluid Cycles XT, which are akin to a bike for the upper body. Instructors, including American Ninja Warrior veteran Drew Drechsel, have backgrounds in sports medicine and fitness, and incorporate the facility's obstacle course and gym equipment into classes such as a year-round boot camp, Kids Fit sessions, and Zumba.
Results Personal Training enlists certified male and female trainers to piece together personalized fitness and nutrition plans that target time-specific fitness goals and allow for anytime onsite access. When paired with a client, each trainer crafts a program geared toward desired results—such as muscle gain or weight loss—and an ultimate end date, which can correspond with upcoming weddings or long-awaited preschool reunions. One-hour workout sessions then draw on an armory of free weights and Pilates balls to activate different muscle groups and prevent bodies from adapting to the routine. With trainers always on standby, clients can walk in on the hour to start a training program without an appointment and report to the center an unlimited number of times per week.
Before each patron’s first workout, an on-staff nutritionist outlines a healthy meal plan customized to his or her needs. Each menu includes the amount of calories that they should consume per meal and day, a list of foods that rev up metabolisms, and arguments to convince tomatoes that they are vegetables. Clients can visit their nutritionists at any point during their membership, and weekly analyses of their progress ensure that they are staying well on track to meet their health objectives.
Thomas Volmer credits his wife, Rachel, for inspiring them to start helming boot camps. She wasn’t always a fitness guru, though. "She was a commercial banker and she was 70 pounds overweight," Volmer recalls. Once she started to reclaim her life, "she just fell in love with fitness," he says. She eventually dropped 80 pounds with proper exercise and nutrition, spurring her to earn her AFAA personal training certification and pursue a career as a full-time trainer.
Personal experience lends Rachel and the other trainers—including Sharon Monk, who lost more than 200 pounds by exercising and eating healthily—empathy and a motivating demeanor when working with campers. At each location, they get groups doing pushups, swinging kettlebells, and flipping tires in a positive environment that's focused on teamwork, rather than competition. "You start as a group, you finish as a group," says Thomas. "But the activities that you do in between might be different based on your abilities."
In addition to leading sessions, Rachel creates easy-to-use online meal plans (including a vegetarian plan), which campers can customize to help them stay on track. Options range from the simple, such as cereal with fruits, nuts, and flaxseeds, to the creative, including honey-sweetened oatmeal peanut-butter cookies. She also includes the calorie count for each recipe. Users can pick from simple meals made for one person or larger entrees designed with an entire family or pet elephant in mind.
At Dharma Yoga?s recently erected, 2,400-square-foot studio, flickering candlelight gives the earth-tone hues and gleaming hardwood floors an inviting glow. Like stumbling into a lounge-singer convention, the studio?s comforting vibes relax the mind with calming music as the band of certified instructors gently guides students of all experience levels through a series of healing physical postures. Though classes vary in style?ranging from vigorous early-bird Vinyasa flow to relaxing end-of-day Dharma nightcaps?each session explores traditional Indian yoga and Buddhist practices, referring to itself as an "awareness-based mindfulness and relaxation practice." Between the original Dharma Yoga and the new Dharma Yoga East Side, students can choose from 50 weekly classes, held throughout the day.
In the course of more than a decade of teaching and practicing yoga, Dharma Yoga founder Keith Kachtick, an Austin native, has served as the senior instructor with the Lineage Project, a nonprofit that offers meditation and yoga practice to prisoners in the New York City area. Keith has also contributed his yogic philosophies to publications such as Yoga Journal, Newsweek, and the New York Times. His codirector, Camilla, has a master?s degree in social work and a background as a clinical therapist. These experiences fuel her nurturing teaching style, especially in yoga-therapy sessions, which are designed to help to release physical, emotional, and mental tension.
Koko FitClub’s automated personal-training system rockets both men and women toward fitness goals with 30-minute custom workouts that incorporate cardio and strength training. An initial consultation determines fitness level and baseline measurements, which Koko’s machines use to design a bespoke workout plan that precisely measures the weight, pace, and rest time appropriate for each exerciser. The Koko machines guide exercisers through each workout and adapt as the user’s fitness needs change and constantly challenge the body.
Designed by professional trainers, workouts maximize the body’s lean-muscle mass, which can boost metabolism and help fight off disease by challenging viruses to kickboxing matches. Exercisers can track their shrinking waistlines and swelling muscles online by analyzing workout scores and comparing individual fitness levels to the Koko FitClub community.
To help fuel bodies, the KoKo Fuel custom nutrition plan provides clients with the exact quantity of macronutrients needed to build lean muscle and burn fat. The online nutrition plan is based on increasing protein intake and controlling carbs, which is clinically proved to help aid with weight loss.
The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.
Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.
Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.