As Shari Misher Stenzler trudged down a flight stairs on her way to kids' music lessons, toddler in one arm and stroller in the other, she wondered why early childhood education wasn't more accessible. She wanted a one-stop shop, an easily accessible location where she and her child could learn about art, music, gym, dance, and science. Inspired to avoid future climbs, she founded Kidville, an early childhood-development facility that encourages children to learn and explore new concepts, alongside their parents and plenty of teachers.
While they teach everything from ballet to science, Kidville's staff consider Rockin' Railroad to be their signature class. They host a live band for each session, taking kids and parents on an interactive adventure to instrumentville, so named for its plethora of musical devices. Kids let their imaginations and compositions run wild, encouraged by the bright, geometrically patterned walls designed to intuitively guide them through the space.
The head instructor of Gracie Barra The Woodlands, Alex Gotay, has earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's a milestone that requires talent, of course, and a significant chunk of time—more than ten years, to be exact. Alex and the Gracie Barra team lead students down this path with a four-month fundamentals program, where they learn the principles of effective fighting. Students then enter an eight-month advanced program followed by a capstone black belt program, which draws on elements of MMA and other fighting styles.
The center doesn't just train aspiring black belts, however; many students use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes as a way to keep fit. The center offers 50+ classes per week in this and other fighting and fitness styles. Muay Thai and cardio kickboxing classes, for example, follow no skill sequence—instead, they help students of all levels avoid the classic pitfall of kicking with both legs at once.
Travis Tooke's passion for mixed martial arts fueled his decorated competitive grappling and Brazilian-jujitsu careers, which instinctively led him to form Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts and share his expertise with others. He proudly wears a Gracie Barra black belt and has been a Brazilian-jujitsu and submission-wrestling trainer for more than 12 years, during which he’s mentored renowned UFC fighter Yves Edwards. He and his team of instructors lead students in an array of mixed-martial-arts fitness classes, including kickboxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and wrestling. They offer kids' classes, women's classes, and classes for combat buffs looking to break into the professional mixed-martial-arts world, which used to require locking your resume in a chokehold until it got you a job.