Houstonians are very active and there is an abundance of sports facilities for adults and children. There are parks, golf courses, tennis courts, and many other opportunities in Houston to exercise, play and stay healthy. Residents go to fitness centers, play golf, tennis, take Yoga classes, and play a lot of soccer, football, baseball, as well as martial arts sports.
There are a variety of fitness centers available for membership within the Houston area. The membership prices will vary as will the hours of operation. When looking for a fitness center, most Houstonians chose by location first then personal preference in regards to equipment, opening hours, courses offered, and so on. It is recommended to visit the clubs and get a tour to get a feel of the club.
Houstonians like using machines, weight and cardio equipment and visit gyms for that. You will notice a lot cardio equipment. Months in the 90F temperature range can make outside exercise difficult and jogging, walking, hill climbing can be easier to endure if inside an air conditioned building. Houstonians take great advantage of that and use their cardio equipment more than the average nation.
Some fitness centers offer classes for kids, such as martial arts and most have a child area that is staffed with experienced personnel to watch the kids while the parent works out.
The primary fitness centers are:
• Bally’s- 800-515-800-515, http://www.ballyfitness.com
Bally’s is a well-established club in Houston and has several locations throughout Houston with exercise equipment such as weights and cardio. Some clubs are showing signs of aging, but are well-cared for. They also offer many classes, such as aerobics classes and have a swimming pool with hot tub and sauna. Bally’s requires a contract at different price levels, generally around $30 a month.
• 24 Hour Fitness- 800-224-0240, http://www.24hourfitness.com
24 Hour Fitness clubs are compatible with Bally’s on every level but 24 Hour Fitness has no contract. Membership prices will also range around $30 a month.
• LA Fitness – 949-255-7200 http://www.lafitness.com
LA Fitness is a newer club in the Houston area and it is expanding rapidly. It is compatible with Bally’s and 24 Hour Fitness. LA Fitness does not have a contract but requires a membership at different price levels, generally around $30 a month.
• Life Time Fitness – Phone depends on location – http://clubs.lifetimefitness.com/Texas-Houston/284
These clubs are compatible with Bally’s, 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness. It requires a contract but offers month-to-month contracts. Prices range around $30 a month.
• YMCA- 713-659-5566, http://www.ymcahouston.org
YMCA has several locations throughout Houston and is characterized by a very family oriented atmosphere. They offer all that the other fitness centers offer as well as outside exercise, such as playgrounds and soccer fields. Membership fees are higher than other clubs and can range around $50 – 100 a month.
• The Houstonian – 713-685-6888 – http://www.houstonian.com/TheClub.aspx
This Hotel, Club & Spa is a luxurious and private fitness and health club that requires a membership. For prices, you must inquire with the club about a membership but it is pricy and over $100 a month.
Golf is a very popular sport for all residents of Houston and Houston hosts the Shell Open every year. Courses are located throughout Houston and are often also part of a neighborhood community. As an avid golfer and when ready to purchase a house, it is recommended to look for a residence in a suburb with an adjacent golf club.
Some of the larger golf clubs will require a membership and have some exclusivity associated with them. An exclusive club, for example, would be the River Oaks Country Club starting at $50,000 to join with two recommendations. Some other clubs at different levels would be:
- The Houstonian, 713-680-2626 – http://www.houstonian.com (a luxurious club near the Galleria area)
- Houston National Golf Club, (281) 304-1400 – http://www.houstonnationalgolf.com(northwest Houston)
- Westwood Golf Club, 713-774-3011- http://www.wwgolfclub.com (southwest Houston)
- Bear Creek Golf World, 281-859-8188 – http://palmergolf.com (west Houston)
In general, Houstonians only join a club for business or social reasons and otherwise, play on open golf courses which run at about $30 a day for the course’s use that day, with higher prices for some courses; depending on location, clientele and quality. Golf courses can be played on for $30 a day.
For a list of golf courses in Houston, visit: http://www.thegolfcourses.net/golfcourses/TX/Houston.htm.
Tennis is another popular sport in Houston and is played by any gender, ethnicity and age all throughout Houston. As with golf, there are clubs and there are many open tennis courts. Clubs and associations require membership fees which can range from $50 to thousands. Court uses are generally around $5 or free, if the course is an open place located in a suburb, a public park or on university property.
You can play with a trainer or with friends. There are also many coaches for kids. If you are an avid tennis player and are looking for a home in a residential suburb, it is recommended to look for one that includes a tennis court in the community as there are many.
A great website is “Let’s play tennis” at http://www.letsplaytennis.com This website helps you find partners at every skill level and tennis courts to play on.
Some clubs and associations are:
- Houston Tennis Association, 281-580-8313 – http://www.houstontennis.org
- Houston Tennis Club, – http://www.houstontennisclub.org
For children: Houston Youth Tennis, http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/youthtennis.html
Houston is a hot city and there are many opportunities to swim but not as obvious as one may think. Swimming is more recreation than a sport but water polo is fairly popular. Olympic sized swimming pools are located inside fitness centers and require a membership. Smaller pools are located in many suburbs and require residence in that specific neighborhood. Every apartment complex also has a swimming pool.
For children, some schools have swim teams or water polo teams. Expats will need to check with the school for specific programs.
The Houston Swim Club offers swim lessons for kids and is indoors and open all year around. Locations are southwest and west Houston: http://www.houstonswimclub.com
For public water polo clubs, check out these:
- West Houston Water Polo – http://www.westhoustonwaterpolo.com/default_css.aspx
- North Houston Water Polo Club – http://www.northhoustonwaterpolo.com
Yoga is also very popular in Houston and there are many places to take classes, including almost all fitness centers.
Here are two recommendations, but a drive through your immediate neighborhood should provide you with a decent selection. Be sure to ask for a trial class, which most studios are happy to give.
- Houston Iyenger Yoga Studio, 713-527-9100 – http://www.houstoniyengaryoga.com(west Inner Loop)
- Joy Yoga Center, 713-868-9642 – http://www.joyyogacenter.com (Downtown)
Many expats are happy to know that they can find a way to play soccer in Houston. There are places to just go to kick the ball in most parks unless a league is holding a game. There are also several indoor places which are very popular due to the Houston heat and humidity in the summer months. There are also many clubs to play in teams and join leagues and play in tournaments. Some larger companies also have soccer teams that people can play on, check with your HR department.
The most popular outdoor leagues, run by volunteers and with leagues in all areas of Houston, are:
- Houston Women’s Soccer Association (women and coed) – http://www.hwsa.org
- TORSO- Thirty & Over Recreational Soccer Organization (coed) – http://www.torsosoccer.org
- Houston Football Association (men’s only) – http://www.hfasoccer.com
- FFPS – Fun Fair Positive Soccer (kids only) – http://www.ffps.org/Welcome.aspx
The most popular indoor facilities are:
- Kicks Indoor Soccer – http://www.kicksindoor.com (west Inner Loop)
- Northwest Indoor Soccer – http://www.letsplaysoccer.com (northwest Houston)
- West Houston Indoor Soccer – http://www.westhoustonindoor.com (west Houston, near Katy)
American Football, Baseball, Basketball
Basketball is the most popular sport in Houston and one can play at any basketball court at a school, in parks or suburbs. Flag football, baseball and softball are also popular sports with adults in Houston. To find teams to play on, you can check with your company, as most have corporate teams, or visit http://houston.sportsvite.com Teams are specific to gender, but can also be co-ed. Most don’t have try-outs as they are purely recreational and for fun.
Here are some popular locations where one can sign up to play on teams in a league:
West Houston Indoor Soccer – http://www.westhoustonindoor.com (west Houston, near Katy)
Adult Softball and Flag Football with locations all throughout Houston:
- Houston Sportsplex – http://www.houstonsportsplex.com
- X-treme Flag Football League – http://xtremeflagfootball.com
Houston Men’s Adult Baseball League – http://www.scorebook.com/HoustonMABL
Houston holds many 5K, 10K and marathons each year and while you can jog or run anywhere you want, most people run in the parks, with Memorial Park being the most favorite. Many walking/running trails are being built around Houston.
Here are some resources for trails and running:
- Buffalo Bayou – http://www.buffalobayou.org/hikebike.html
- Houston Center Walking Club – http://wc.houstoncenter.com/getwhc/trails.asp
- Memorial Park – http://houstonnaturewalks.blogspot.com/2006/11/memorial-park-three-mile-circle.html
- Best running trails in Houston – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1898932/best_running_trails_in_houston_tx.html?cat=8
- Chevron Houston Marathon – http://www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com
There is a yearly event called MS 150, a two-day race from Houston to Austin and benefiting a good cause. Houstonians cycle mostly outside of Houston out towards the Hill Country on public streets. Mountain biking is also very popular and mostly done on trails.
Here are some great resources for expats wanting to ride bicycles on a competitive level in Houston:
- Best bike trails in Houston – http://houston.about.com/od/sportsrecreation/tp/BestBikeTrails.htm
- MS 150 – http://www.ms150.org
- Northwest Houston Cycle Club – http://www.northwestcyclingclub.com
- Houston Bicycle Club – http://www.houstonbicycleclub.org/Pages/HomePage.aspx
Martial Arts are also very popular in Houston as there is a high Asian population and also because Houstonians are highly interested in self-defense tactics and many of the martial arts places also teach self-defense and have combat courses. Martial arts classes are given at fitness centers and there are many locations of martial arts academies.
Here are some popular places to train: