Higher Learning

Find Your Inner Warrior

Take your mind and body to the limit, whether by land, sea or sky.

By Marianella Orlando February 20, 2017 Published in the March 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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A would-be ninja grasps the rings.

Image: Troy Fields

Go Ninja at Iron Sports

I’m hanging from the ceiling, holding onto gymnastics rings for dear life. Using swift hip movements to gain momentum, I grasp for another ring with clammy fingers, but alas, miss it by just inches. I drop to the floor, landing on a sea of cushions. “Don’t worry, you were so close. Try again!” the other students say encouragingly, even though I’ve failed every exercise so far.

This is a normal Tuesday evening at Iron Sports, a 30,000-square-foot obstacle-course training gym in Willowbrook, where would-be ninjas train in two-hour sessions—and where failing at tasks is far from out-of-the-ordinary.

Owner Sam Sann, a five-time contender on the NBC hit American Ninja Warrior, opened the gym in 2009. His classes incorporate metal and wood obstacles he constructed himself, including rock-climbing walls, ropes, hanging grips, floating pipes and I-beams, as well as Sann’s own version of American Ninja’s famous Warped Wall. While most of his students are fans of the show—a few have even competed on it—plenty just want a good workout.

“This is all sports put together in one, but it’s not about who can finish the fastest,” Sann says. “It’s about self-discovery, gaining confidence and overcoming fears.”

Soar the Sky at Skydive Spaceland

When it comes to thrills, there’s nothing like jumping out of a plane, but it takes some preparation. Take a course here to learn how to exit an aircraft, perform flips and turns, and deploy your own parachute.

Man a Plane at West Houston Airport

Maybe your dream isn’t skydiving but training as a pilot—you can do that too! Learn how with help from the aviation experts here, who’ve been training Texans since 1962.

Wake Up at Wake Nation

Wakeboarding is what you get when you combine snowboarding, skateboarding, skiing and surfing. At this facility just outside of Pearland, learn how to ride a cable-connected board across a 12-acre man-made lake, featuring custom-built jumps, sliders and grind rails.

Ride a Bike (Not That Kind) at Lone Star College

If you’re going to worry your mom by riding a motorcycle, at least show her you’re properly prepared. The college’s 15-hour “Motorcycle Rider Course” focuses on safety, navigating traffic, and maintaining full control of your bike. It will help put Mom’s mind at ease—and may even reduce your insurance rates.

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