Active H-Town

The ultimate guide to Houston's best free fitness classes

Pilates gets a HIP, innovative spin at this Houston studio. Courtesy photo

Originally appeared on CultureMap


If you have commitment issues or FOMO when it comes to finding that perfect place to sweat, burn, tone, and tighten, be sure to check out these hot spots that promise a sweat-inducing workout and deliver results, all while letting you give them a trial run.

Orangetheory Fitness
With 14 studios in Houston and six more set to open this year, this 60-minute high-intensity interval-based workout is equal parts cardio and strength training, incorporating treadmills, rowing machines, and a strength floor with free weights, TRX straps and abdominal equipment. Designed for all fitness levels, clients wear a heart-rate monitor during class striving to keep their heart rates in the target zones throughout the class.

First class: Free

Pricing: Membership and package options range from $7/session for unlimited monthly training to $28 for a drop-in session

SWEAT 1000
SWEAT stands for Specialized Weight Endurance Athletic Training, with 1000 representing the number of calories burned in a groundbreaking full-body one-hour workout. SWEAT 1000 integrates components of interval training, functional training, core stability work, athletic, and agility training into a dynamic, action-packed class that is different every single time. The studio is outfitted with high-end equipment including world-class FreeMotion Incline Trainers, which are capable of an incline up to 30 degrees. The fitness regimen is intense enough for the most extreme fitness enthusiasts with enough variance to cater to beginners.

First class: Free

Pricing: Founders Launch — $200/month unlimited for 1 year, $30/class (single class), $29/class (5-class pack - $145), $27/class (10-class pack - $275), $25/class (20-class pack - $500), $22/class (50-class pack - $1,100).

EaDo Fitness
Offering 30-minute HIIT/ Quick Fit classes utilizing a variety of dumbbells, kettle bells, running, rowing, and more in a typical boot camp style, these workouts are indoors, allowing for year-round classes. EaDo Fitness offers a beginner’s fundamental class, CrossFit classes and also yoga and commits itself to providing a supportive and exciting experience for all members – whether first timers or veterans.

First class: Free

Pricing: $99/month (no contract)

Defy Pilates Studio
These 50-minute fusion reformer classes will, without out a doubt, kick your butt (and get it in shape while doing so)! The skilled and energetic instructors at Defy will lead you through a sweat inducing routine combining elements of both classical and high intensity Pilates. The best part: workout while jamming out to super fun tunes in an intimate environment.

First two classes: Free

Pricing: Varies, single class is $30

O Athletik
This all-encompassing facility offers a wide range of classes including circuit training, weight lifting, agility, yoga, barre, kick-boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, sand fit, hill fit, kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kids wrestling, kids yoga. Also offered are soccer and volleyball leagues included in the monthly membership fee. 

First class: Free

Pricing: $145/month

9Round includes everything you need: a full-body workout that's fast, effective and fun, personal trainers to help you along the way and expert nutritional guidance that’s based on the latest exercise and nutritional science. Perfect for people seeking a unique and flexible environment, the kickboxing themed fitness program incorporates functional, interval, cardiovascular, and circuit training regimens. The best part: no class times – just drop in when you can and get to work for half an hour.

First class: Free

Pricing: $79-129/month for unlimited workouts

HIP Fitness
HIP Fitness (High Intensity Pilates) offers a 45-minute workout that works out every muscle in your body using the Megaformer. Exercises are heart-pumping, muscle burning and there is no stopping until your body is shaking. Classes are limited to 10 clients at a time to guarantee every client the attention he or she deserves. HIP Fitness offers a total-body program that combines cardio, strength training and Pilates to burn up to 700 calories in each session. Workouts are intense, low impact, and efficient. Strengthen, tighten, tone and elongate your body quickly and safely through 100s of different exercises.  

First class: Mention CultureMap and first class is free

Pricing: Pricing varies (one month unlimited passes $195-$265/month)

The Preserve Houston 
One of the newest and most beautiful gyms in River Oaks now offers more than 70 classes a week — everything from ATC and Metcon to yoga and Pilates with a bit of cycling in between. Cycling variations include Rhythm Ride, a 45-minute indoor studio style cycling experience (think party meets workout) and Performance Ride, a 45-minute indoor cycling ride where HIIT training with climbs, drills and intervals meeting incredible tunes.

First class: Mention CultureMap and first class is free

Pricing: Membership fee $229/month

Led by former MLS player Michael Chabala, SPHERE is a soccer-inspired fitness class designed to connect people on and off the field while using a ball to do more than just score goals. The two most popular classes are SPHERE – the signature non-stop soccer-inspired fitness class designed for all skill levels from beginners to pros that takes place at local parks and indoor soccer venues around Houston and POWA — 30-minutes of interval cardio treadmill routines and sideline strength training that uses the ball to shred your fitness goal and is an exclusive class only offered at the Four Seasons.

First class: Mention CultureMap and first class is free

Pricing: SPHERE: $15/class, $100 monthly or $200 for 3 months unlimited; POWA: $20/class, workout includes complimentary valet, use of steam room, shower, pool and hot tub at Four Seasons Hotel Houston  

Not free, but check out these first-timer deals and get ready to sweat:

This next generation indoor cycling experience embodies the essence of invigorating fitness, unparalleled service and maximum burn in a luxurious boutique environment. RYDE is well known in Houston for its exhilarating music and highly skilled and energetic instructors.

First class: $15

Dance House Fitness (DHF) 
If you didn’t know dancing can burn some major calories, meet Dance House Fitness (DHF), which offers some of the most exhilarating and Instagram-worthy stories in a fitness environment. DHF offers 60 and 90-minute classes like dance cardio, choreography, lower body activated, interval training, yoga and more. No dance experience necessary — just positive vibes and a willingness to #werk (or #twerk).

First class: $29 for a week of unlimited classes 

Try this 45-minute indoor cycling class that features high-intensity cardio, muscle-sculpting strength training, and rhythm-based choreography. Created to make fitness fun, inspirational, and community-driven, SoulCycle's classes are designed to transform both bodies and minds. The combination of world-class instructors, dark candlelit spaces, and high-energy music along with a full-body cardio workout fuels riders to move together in unison to create what they dub the "energy of the pack."

First class: Texas locations are offering a buy one get one class (two for $30)

RacePace offers interval-based group running classes led by certified running coaches catered to runners of all abilities. The calorie-torching classes are comprised of a variety of speed and hill intervals to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your training. Regardless of your experience or ability, clients can benefit from the instruction, support and energy that the RacePace coaches and fellow RacePacers provide. Whether you're a first-time runner or an Olympic miler, this is a good spot to work on your running and fitness goals.

First class: $10

ROW Studios
Recently featured on TLC's My 600-Pound Life, ROW is a high-intensity, interval training studio in West U. Hosting more than 60 classes a week for all fitness levels, classes incorporate the rowing machine (the "erg"), where you'll be on and off the erg throughout class. All Body is their signature class, which they suggest new clients take first to get a feel for the workout.

First class: 30 Days for $49


*Pricing above reflects new clients only and varies by studio/location. 

Just a few minutes a day can make a difference. Courtesy photo

Exercises you can do while you are at work.

Get up off your feet ! … and move ‘til you feel better!

Do you sit at a desk for 8 hours of your work day? Sadly, 70% of Americans do and they hate it. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.2 million deaths can be attributed to lack of physical activity. And unfortunately these sedentary lifestyles increase our risk of bone and muscle loss, heart disease, and diabetes. Even if you are active on a daily, you are still possibly at risk of not getting enough activity to counteract your sedentary self of being at a desk for 8 hours at a time.

If you think about your daily routine, there is a lot of booty action, doing a whole lot of nothing. For most, you commute to work, sitting; work for 8 hours, sitting; commute home, sitting; then get home and spend more time, sitting, in front of the tv. Oh, and somewhere between that 10-14 hours of sitting you may have a 1-hour workout to try to help counteract the body from being sedentary. Then, guess what, at the end of a long work day, you’re back in bed for 7-8 hours to do it all over again. Let’s face it, as much as we want to be active and not think we are on our bums longer than we actually are. We are literally killing ourselves, putting our bodies at risk for obesity, poor posture, diabetes, heart disease, the list goes on and on.

The point is there are numerous ways to try to add some more activity to your day and quite frankly with just this little extra movement, you can reverse inevitable weight gain, or even save your life. Let’s start with simple stretches at your desk. Just do the stretches that feel good or right to you. And remember to hold for :30 on each side. You can start with your arms and work your way down the body. Take your right arm and place it across the chest (towards left), while at the same time bending your left arm around it. Now let’s move on to your wrists, (this will feel good, you’ll thank me). This is featured in my video attached, but if you stand up and put your palms flat on your desk (arms straight), and then start to flip them, (palms up then down, flexion and extension), alternating left and right wrists. This stretch feels amazing for people that sit in front of a computer and type all day.

After your arm stretches, move down the body, neck rolls, wrist stretching, shoulder shrugs, leg stretches, finally leading to standing up. Standing you can stretch the legs and then you can reach for the stars, or reach to each side of your wingspan, opening the chest. You can also stretch while sitting at the desk, prop one leg on the desk and reach for the toes, hold for :30, as you will see in the video below. While you are back to sitting, try some seated torso twists. This is demonstrated in the video as well. In the video I take you through these static stretches and some other exercises.

Now, that you have you’re warmed up and stretched out. Here are a few exercises to follow, to help keep the blood and juices flowing at work. (see video attached for reference)

  1. Seated Leg extensions: Sit in your chair, (knees bent), extend right leg completely straight and hold for :5 seconds. Then alternate legs. Continue to switch until you finish 10 on each leg. That is 1 set, repeat 2 more sets.
  2. Desk assisted push-ups: Stand 1 foot in front of your desk, lean forward so you are at an angle, and do a push on the edge of the desk. For the ladies that are self-conscious about their shoulders, try keeping your elbows in. This now focuses on the Tri-ceps. Do this 10 reps/ 3X
  3. Tri-cep Dips: Stand up and turn around to where your back is facing the desk. Position your hands shoulder width apart, placing your hands on the desk. Be sure to move the booty out front with legs extended. Bend at the elbows and voila! 10 reps/ repeat 3X
  4. Calf Raises:  Stand. For support you can use the back of your chair. Facing your desk, raise into the tip toes, hold for a brief second, then release. Repeat 10 times, and complete with 3 rounds.
  5. Wall Sits: Easy Peasy. Go to a wall (with your back against the wall), sit and pretend there is an invisible chair underneath you, into a seated position. Hold the position for about :30 each time.  Repeat 10 X.
  6. Standing lunges: Same lunge as always. Standing, take one leg back (bending) and lowering to the knee. Alternate legs. Repeat this 10X on each leg, 3 rounds
  7. Kick Backs: This exercise is demonstrated in the video. Standup, use your chair as a crutch. Kick back the right leg as high as you can with the knee cap facing the floor. Alternate legs. 10X on each leg, 3 rounds.
  8. Shoulder Press: Grab a couple binders or anything with a couple pounds of weight. Hold it flat at shoulder level and raise the item straight into the air (overhead) and back down again. Do this 10 X, 3 rounds.
  9. Squats: So easy, you can do these in the air or in your chair. Stand-up, sit back down, repeat 15 times. Or squat and hover over your chair, 15 times. Repeat this for 3 rounds.

Tappy, tap, tap: Here is an exercise anyone can do. Sit at your desk, for the foot tap drill. This means tapping each foot on the balls of the feet, and alternating right to left. Continue for :30 seconds and bam! Repeat 10X.

Now those exercises weren’t so bad, were they? Try to add them to your everyday routine, so that this becomes a lifestyle. Then…outside of your desk you can burn a few more calories by:

  1. Taking the stairs- No matter what floor you are on, you can always take the stairs.

  2. Take a walk break- Smoke breaks are old; walk breaks are in.. and the new thing

  3. Park further- Even if you are in a parking garage, give it a walk or 2

  4. Set your watch- For all the 2018 technology watch people; you can set timers for during the day as a reminder to “stand-up”, or “walk around”, or take a “mental break”

  5. DIY (do it yourself)- Instead of asking an intern or assistant for something…take over!

Want to take it one step further? Here are some items you can order to kick your booty in gear and take it to the next level. It’s December, add this to your Christmas list!

Bosu Ball- Keep it simple. There are tons of versions of these. You can either get a real bosu ball and sit on this. Or you can get the fancy one, where the bottom half is actually made into a chair, and top is half of a bosu. Either way, they are amazing to stretch on and even bounce around from time to time to keep your body active and moving!

Stand up desk – You can find many variations for the stand-up desk. This desk helps you get up off your feet! And not stuck in a chair for hours. You can find these just about anywhere online, Amazon.

Ergohead standing desk mat- not a flat anti-fatigue mat for stand-up desks; You can find this on Amazon. This is great for those that have stand up desks.

Desk Bike- MY FAV!  I have one, and it is awesome! However, amongst all the distractions, you do have to remember to pedal. 😊 Order online off the Vari-Desk website, or wherever when googling desk bike.

Portable Elliptical – It’s like an elliptical from the gym, except it’s mini and portable. Fit this under your desk to work your little legs without even knowing it!


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