Thumping club tracks shake the air, while a quartet of Houston Texans take a break near the weight bench. Nearby, professional boxer Mike Lee stretches before running through a series of agility and footwork routines. Injured Steelers tackler Casey Hampton works up a sweat rehabbing his torn ACL on a stair-stepper. That's the typical scene at Plex, a sports-training center with an 18,000-square-foot flagship facility in Houston's suburbs. Since opening 14 years ago, the progressive Plex fitness philosophy has made it one of top gyms in the world for pro athletes and everyday folks looking for a no-nonsense training zone.
Dozens of NFL pros, Major League Baseball players and Olympians work out at Plex, but they are not the only ones. Owner and director Danny Arnold, a former college defensive back with a burnished bald pate and guns like an MMA champ, emphasizes a holistic approach to fitness that favors conditioning over weights and adaptive, sport-specific exercises over straight strength conditioning. It's perhaps the most in-vogue gym in the country – for both off-season pros as well as "civilians," as Arnold calls them, who get to work out side-by-side with the likes of star White Sox pitcher Jesse Crain and hometown hero Brian Ching of the Houston Dynamo soccer squad.
"You don't have to do these heavy weights to get strong as hell," says Arnold. "In order to train you, we ask you your goals, and develop a high-intensity, directed workout for you, the same as the pros." The "Plexecutive" program is the one personal training regimen open to the public – that is, anyone willing to cough up $250 for 10 workout sessions and a personal regime designed by the gym's trainers. In addition to standbys such as free weights, and classes including Zumba and Gyrotronics, Plex offers nutritional consulting, chiropractic treatments, and adaptive sports training, based in its advanced physical therapy program, a prehab/rehab setup that helps the pros get back in the game after injury. (Plex has physical therapy options for the public, too, and can take medical insurance in many cases.) There are also basketball courts, cushioned turf fields, and a new sandpit for low-impact running and lifting. "At the end of the day, you can get the same workout as [Green Bay Defensive Back] Charles Woodson," promises Arnold.
More information: Plex has three locations around Houston, and Arnold hopes to take it national in 2013; plex.cc.