Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
M2 Sports supplies adrenaline seekers the skills and gear to temper waves, powder, or concrete. M2's snowboarding division carries name-brand planks from brands such as Forum and Lib Tech, as well as all colors and styles of snow-ready gear. A Smith Holt men's snow helmet ($89.99) protects the brain’s ever-expanding library of memorized zip codes, and Volcom Believer men's snow gloves ($109.99) keep hands from making skin-to-snow contact. Skate enthusiasts can peruse an exhaustive array of decks, long boards, and protective gear, tuning out chatty crossing guards with Skullcandy’s iCon 2 on-ear headphones ($29.95), whose headbands are lined with rubber grips to prevent slips midride. M2 also equips wakeboarders with name-brand gear from Ronix and Hyperlite, and fosters future enthusiasts through lessons and summer wake camp held at a private lake.
Bayou City Outdoors' hundreds of members didn't join just for the myriad events, though it would be understandable if they did. The site's events calendar buckles under the weight of a packed schedule, with activities from bike rides and kayaking trips to art gallery openings and nights of dancing. But the outings are only the beginning of the member perks. The team at Bayou City plug their members into a buddy system that puts enthusiasts in touch with other members. Buddies can share outdoor gear with each other, or meet up for group outings. Members also get opportunities to learn about cutting-edge equipment through free demos, and enjoy discounts at outdoors-oriented local stores like REI and Urban Bike Gallery.
At 27,000 square feet, Gladiators Gym towers above lesser fitness facilities with an impressive weight room stacked with conventional weights and unconventional equipment. Serious skiers and snowboarders can also take advantage of the gym’s downhill simulation equipment—a revolving carpet that creates a platform for ski and snowboard lessons and recreation. Athletes train with the usual gear, but they can also build their strength and endurance with specialty equipment such as battle ropes, TRX suspension gear, two Austin Legdrive machines, and cones for agility drills. Artificial turf lines the floor to recreate outdoor workouts, which include agility drills and power drills such as tire flipping.