UNITED Tae Kwon Do's group classes aren't really about punching and kicking. Sure, students work to master self-defense techniques, but they also focus on topics such as confidence and respect. The conditioning and reaction drills also help to build lean muscle and serve as an effective form of stress management. In this way, UNITED Tae Kwon Do's sessions benefit all types of students, whether they're kids or adults, beginners or more seasoned martial artists. The trained instructors also teach private lessons that adhere to personal goals, such as preparing a student for an upcoming black belt test.
These programs didn't develop overnight. UNITED Tae Kwon Do has been honing them for more than three decades, long before martial-arts uniforms became a red-carpet fashion trend. The educators have expanded into multiple locations throughout the Houston area and show no signs of stopping.
A former member of the USA Shotokan Karate national team, Olympic Karate & Sports Center’s sensei Alex Ndem won multiple martial-arts titles before putting his skills to use to train others. Ndem and his team of karate kingpins help clients bolster fitness, mental discipline, and self-defense skills with a wide range of group karate classes. A certified personal trainer with a degree in physical education, Ndem also conducts 45-minute indoor boot-camp classes that use high-octane exercises to ignite weight loss and hone cardiovascular strength.
Gyrate like a gypsy or barre like a ballerina with today’s fancy-footed Groupon. For $35, you’ll get four dance classes in a month at Alegria Dance and Performing Arts Center, a flamenco-based dance studio experienced in skilling stunted swayers. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
No Limits aims to showcase the talents of young dancers twinkling their toes in one of 20 preprofessional companies. Footworking styles include jazz, hip-hop, ballet, and cultural dances from around the globe. The performance boasts professional production levels, giving students a big break in their hometowns before they leave to further their education. Boogiers hail from studio companies, such as North Harris Performing Arts and Kingwood Jazz & Company, and exceptional high school departments, including Episcopal High School. This year, Dance Houston hosts the largest number of companies in the show's history, all within the spacious confines of the Cullen Theater at the Wortham Center.
When Henry Harvey went to the University of Houston in 1975, he realized the dance moves he'd picked up at high school in Fort Worth were more valuable than he thought. In fact, he gave lessons to new people in the area who wanted to fit in on the dance floor. Years later, his wife decided they should start dancing together. "I went to dance class and found out they were doing the same things I was 10 years before," he said. Taking stock of his management abilities and previous dance experience, he realized he had the opportunity to be successful, so he brushed up his skills and founded High Steppers Dance Troupe LLC in 2007.
At locations throughout the area, Harvey and his team of instructors teach the hot urban Houston two-step, as well as swing-out dancing. The dances are set to cool urban R&B tunes and neo-soul grooves and help participants release the seductive strut or smooth swagger they've kept bottled up. Instead of duct taping themselves to a good dancer in the club and letting them do all the work, students can be confident in their ability to finally know what they're doing on the dance floor.
Harvey claims that his students, many of who are aged 40 and older, come not only for the improved skills that come from dancing for two hours, but also for the atmosphere, which he calls "very upbeat and very festive." His dance classes can also act as a stress reliever after a long day at work. "They get into dance class and they're rejuvenated," Harvey says.
In addition to dance lessons, the group takes charter buses on regional trips and hosts two to three showcases per year, where students regale audiences with a synchronized dance routine. At their social dances, a DJ spins tunes as students get the chance to put their lessons into practice and leave behind their days of doing the worm shyly on the dance-floor sidelines.
Brazilian jujitsu could be considered the black sheep of the martial-arts family. Instead of relying on raw force and strength like many disciplines, Brazilian jujitsu uses leverage and precise movements to land blows and defeat opponents. That’s why students at Gracie Barra’s 300+ locations worldwide come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, Brazilian jujitsu often inspires entire families—mom, dad, kids, and security blankets with faces drawn on them—to get in shape and learn the art of self-defense. Its main focus is grappling on the ground, an experience made easier by the new Westchase location’s 2,000 square feet of zebra floor mats. Students learn the basics during a Fundamentals Program, tackle varied techniques at mixed martial arts, or get on the fast track to victory at Future Champions. No matter the class, students are taught by highly trained instructors.