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The first-ever A Charlie Brown Christmas 5K will feature The Snoopy Kids Dash and the 5K fun run/walk. Participants will receive a festive finisher medal, participant bib, and performance tech t-shirt. There will also be an appearance by Santa and post-race refreshments.

Photo courtesy of TruFusion

2 celebrity-endorsed Houston gyms pump out free fitness classes

Sweat Equity

No worries if summer vacation meant taking a break from work and working out. Exercise buffs, gym newbies, or those looking for a little fitness inspo can take advantage of complimentary classes at two celebrity-endorsed Houston gyms.

TruFusion Houston
1980 Post Oak Blvd, Suite A

The celeb-favorite spot is throwing open the doors of its Post Oak flagship location with a grand opening celebration this weekend. The massive fitness facility boasts more than 17,000 square feet with six group exercise rooms and nearly 200 classes per week.

The most popular classes, which are favored by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and her former beau Alex Rodriguez, include HIIT, Hot Pilates, Cycle, Barefoot Bootcamp, Tru Yin Yoga, Yoga Flow, and Hot Barre.

“I realized over the years how much I hated going to the gym; it was boring and repetitive,” said Natalie Buckel, managing member of TruFusion in a statement. “This place finally solved that problem with the variety of classes. There’s a class for everyone and a selection of many incredible instructors who contribute their own creativity in the workouts. To top it off, the facility is beautiful and chic with superior amenities.”

Newcomers are invited to experience the one-of-a-kind fitness facility Saturday, August 27 at a grand opening celebration. Free fitness classes led by top instructors, along with bites, beverages, live music, and prizes will be part of the fun at this exclusive event, which runs 5:15 pm to 9 pm.

Blink Fitness
Four Houston-area locations; find them here

If the razzle-dazzle of a new gym isn’t enough to get you off the couch, Blink Fitness offers four Houston locations to help with motivation. Launching on September 12, Blink Fitness is introducing Gymnosis – a series of complimentary in-gym and virtual hypnosis sessions to help people get — and stay — motivated to workout.

Gymnosis, which is used among celebrities and athletes including Tiger Woods and Olivia Munn, is used to overcome mental hurdles and realize the mental and physical benefits of exercise.

The sessions last approximately 45 minutes and are conducted in a group setting with approximately 10 to 30 people per session. Registration is required and limited slots are available. There is no cost or obligation to participate, and Gymnosis is open to both members and non-members of Blink Fitness.

“A commitment to working out and wellness takes personal motivation,” Todd Magazine, Blink Fitness CEO, noted in a statement. “Mustering that motivation can be hard.”

Breathe easy — this yoga class is free at TruFusion.

Photo courtesy of TruFusion
Breathe easy — this yoga class is free at TruFusion.

This Houston neighbor weighs in as the healthiest county in the region, says U.S. News

Taking the temperature

For babies and baby boomers alike, Fort Bend County stands out as the healthiest county in the Greater Houston and surrounding areas, according to a new study by U.S. News & World Report.

Fort Bend County lands at No. 291 on U.S. News’ list of the 500 healthiest counties. U.S. News assessed 2,735 of the 3,143 counties across the U.S. but ranked only 500 of them.

For the study, U.S. News examined 89 metrics across 10 categories tied to health:

  1. Community health
  2. Health, income, education, and social equity
  3. Education
  4. Economy
  5. Housing
  6. Food and nutrition
  7. Environment
  8. Public safety
  9. Community vitality
  10. Infrastructure

Fort Bend's highest score was in the economy category (90); its lowest score was in the environment category (25). The bustling county also scored well in education (80), with 94.3 percent of residents graduating high school (compared to a national average of 89.4 percent) and an impressive 54 percent holding advanced degrees — compared to a 30.6 national average.

Some 77.5 percent of Fort Bend residents own homes, compared to 73.2 percent nationwide. Little wonder, then, that Fort Bend was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas' Collin County lands at No. 50 on U.S. News’ list of the 500 healthiest counties in the U.S., making it the healthiest county in the state. Two other counties in Dallas-Fort Worth made the top 500 in the U.S. News study: Rockwall County wound up at No. 70 and Denton County landed at No. 180.

Other Texas counties that fared well in the U.S. News study are:

  • No. 91 Kendall County (San Antonio). Its highest score was in the economy category (79); its lowest score was in the housing category (53).
  • No. 121 Williamson County (Austin). Its highest score was in the economy category (93); its lowest score was in the housing category (52).
  • No. 295 Travis County (Austin). Its highest score was in the infrastructure category (92); its lowest score was in the equity category (41).
  • No. 453 Comal County (San Antonio). Its highest score was in the economy category (75); its lowest score was in the environment category (43).
Photo by Duy Ta Photography

The Houstonian Club's big reno makes fitness fun for the whole family

Fit For Any Kid

There are few things more satisfying than a newly renovated gym, but one with great ways to keep the kids active is a strong contender.

Having finished its first round of a $23.5 million renovation and expansion of the 175,000 square feet club, The Houstonian Club has moved on to its second phase that's all about the kids, with new equipment, programs, and staff.

The CDC recommends that kids ages 6 through 17 get an hour of exercise every day, but less than a quarter actually do. It’s tough to hit that metric if it’s the only goal, but getting kids moving can be as simple as connecting them with activities that really resonate.

At The Houstonian Club, they can get involved in mind and body-balancing activities as diverse as swimming lessons, racquet sports, basketball, rock climbing, and more.

While most kids will likely be happiest exercising incidentally through play, those showing an interest in exercise science can learn in the fitness center, with youth certified trainers and even personal coaches to help create custom programs for both physical and emotional goals.

This could be an engaging bonus while a parent is off swimming laps, a huge leg up in team sports with coaches stretched a little too thin, or even just a solid bedrock for a more confident future where exercise is an internalized priority, rather than an intimidating obligation.

Sometimes it’s just about keeping kids busy and safe while parents enjoy the campus on their own. Infants from six weeks all the way up to kids of 12 years are welcome in the supervised childcare program, with separate age-appropriate areas to keep everyone engaged.

Kids 5 years old and under can hang out in The Bungalow, divided into infant, toddler, and child sections, next door to The Houstonian Hideout, opening in May for all the other kids.

Check-in to these areas includes stroller parking and lots of visibility throughout the space, thanks to windows all around. And while those practical features are exciting for parents, one more may inspire envy: a custom Ninja Warrior obstacle course and bouldering wall.

On a more committed scale that still makes summer a whole lot easier for adults with places to be, there are three types of camps for ages 3 to 15: day camps, aquatics camps, and racquet sports (which includes tennis, padel, and pickleball).

An outdoor playground and family-friendly events like the recent Spring Fling — with bouncy houses, train rides, temporary tattoos, and DJ sets — make The Houstonian Club a fun place to be all day, with new and engaging programs beginning all the time.

The Houstonian Club, one of only 20 platinum athletic clubs in the country and within the top 5 percent of all private clubs, is recognized for its commitment to providing the best amenities in Houston.

Getting the family in by the end of May will also save some money, as family membership initiation fees are increasing by $3,000 on June 1.

More information on memberships and youth programs is available here.

Children can have fun and get fit in a welcoming atmosphere at The Houstonian Club.

Photo by Duy Ta Photography
Children can have fun and get fit in a welcoming atmosphere at The Houstonian Club.
Photo courtesy of Body20

Stimulating fitness studio promising techie, 20-minute workouts muscles into The Heights

a serious flex

Fitness fans in the Heights and Inner Loop area now have a new, techie option.

National boutique fitness studio, Body20, will soon set up shop in the buzzy Heights destination, M-K-T. The concept is slated to open in late summer to early fall this year in Building 4, next to Honeychild’s Sweet Creams and facing the Heights Hike and Bike Trail.

For the uninitiated, Body20 offers a tech-based program that works in Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) into every workout by targeting the deepest muscle fibers all the way to the outermost.

Promising some 150 times more muscle contractions than traditional training, EMS-based exercisers use roughly 90 percent of their muscles — some 36,000 muscle contractions — in just one, 20-minute workout session, Body20 claims. That’s compared to 50 percent of muscles used in traditional workouts.

Here, workouts are customized to each client, with promised benefits including weight loss, muscle strengthening, cellulite reduction, skin toning and tightening, increased metabolism, and cardiovascular health, per a press release.

“M-K-T is the perfect location for Body20 because it embodies a health conscious yet urban vibe,” Bhavika Patel, owner of Body20 Houston Heights, noted in a statement. “Body20 is the future of fitness and M-K-T is an ideal area to cultivate the community and brand awareness that this new boutique fitness concept is looking for.”

Those not in The Heights can look forward to another Body20 outpost coming soon to the Galleria area, with eight other locations throughout Texas in the future, including The Woodlands, Dallas, and San Antonio.

Body20 joins other concepts opening soon at M-K-T: The Skin Clinic, Honest Eats, Huemn, Venetian Nail Spa, Yumcha, Shampu Salon, Mala Sichuan Bistro, and Blue Sushi Sake Grill.

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Body20; M-K-T Heights, Building 4, 600 N. Shepherd Dr. For more information, visit the official site.

Photo by Danitza Ladwig

Houston's first Art Bike Festival rolls into town as new spin on Art Car Parade

wheel good time

Not content to rest on its laurels after its iconic Art Car Parade, the Orange Show for Visionary Art is putting a spin on the artsy-automotive event with a new festival and parade. The Orange Show and Houston Parks Board are teaming up for Houston’s first Art Bike Festival on Saturday, May 21.

The vibrant and free fest celebrates the Bayou City’s parks and trails, and of course, art and bikes. Locals are encouraged to register online by May 15 to take part in the parade.

Things kick off at 9 am at MacGregor Park (5225 Calhoun Rd.), with the parade rolling out at 10 am, with new participants joining more than 100 HISD students on their decked-out rides.

At around noon, the parade route will cycle through Brays Bayou Greenway from MacGregor Park to Smither Park (2441 Munger St. ). A post-parade event at Smither Park including awards, activities, and plenty of art, will take place around 2 pm.

This new bike festival comes on the heels of a wildly popular, recent Art Car Parade, which saw its first in-person event since 2019 due to the pandemic. The 35th anniversary parade saw tens of thousands of locals lining up downtown streets and Allen Parkway to get a glimpse of the 250 Art Cars, theme cars, and the charismatic grand marshal, Houston’s hip-hop icon Bun B.

For more information on the first Art Bike Festival, visit the festival site.

Look for decked-out wheels.

Photo by Danitza Ladwig
Look for decked-out wheels.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.