The AFM Annual “Best of” Awards 2011

By AFM – January 1, 2012
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

You, our readers have spoken; what follows is the “Best of” list compiled from reader feedback. We’ve given you the top three in each category, with the percentage of vote captured by each (and some were pretty close). Web or physical addresses are listed in case you’d like to find out more about what’s making your fellow Austinites rave. And if you don’t like the results, there’s always next year for you to express your opinion. Best…

National Gym

Life Time Fitness 31%

This gym holds on to last year’s top-dog status. Life Time Fitness is a one-stop shop for fitness, with nutrition counseling, personal training, fitness testing, hundreds of strength and cardio machines, great locker rooms, indoor/outdoor pool and sport courts.

24 Hour Fitness 21%
Holding onto second is 24 Hour Fitness, with five locations in the Austin area catering to slightly younger gym-goers who want affordable prices.

Gold’s Gym 19%
Taking over third place is Gold’s Gym, which offers innovative programs for all ages for folks who are “committed to realizing their goals.”


Local Gym

Pure Austin 26%
Austin triathletes love the lake at Pure Austin’s north location. With two locations (the other at 6th and Lamar), Pure Austin bills itself as “an indoor gym for outdoor people.”

Castle Hill Fitness 8%
This small downtown gym has a devotion to healthy lifestyles and green living.

Dane’s Body Shop 7%
Dane’s Body Shop strives for an atmosphere where all are welcome and “blown away” by what the workouts bring, no matter what their fitness levels.


Personal Trainers

This was an extremely close competition. These 3 gyms were separated by the smallest margin of any of our results.

Dane’s Body Shop 9%
This newcomer on the scene, located off Guadalupe, also took third in the “Local Gym” category.

Pure Austin 6%
Established local gym with a loyal following and a hand in many events around town, Pure Austin has a big group of qualified personal trainers to choose from.

Austin Simply Fit 4%
Austin Simply Fit is a private personal training facility located in central Austin.

Outdoor Bootcamp

Camp Gladiator 35%
With 40+ locations for camps in the Austin area, Camp Gladiator clearly dominated.

Relentless Bootcamp (CrossFit Central) 7%
Second place in last year’s issue as well, Relentless Bootcamp offers a non-traditional way to get and stay fit.

Bootcamp U/ATX Bootcamp Living 3%
These two newcomers to the list came in at a tie.
Bootcamp U – focuses on realistic results in a welcoming atmosphere

Bootcamp Living – “When you're ready we'll be here to help you get stronger – inside and out.”


Running Group

“Best Running Group” is always a hotly contested category with some standard favorites; this year wound up with a surprising addition to the pack.

Rogue Training Systems 28%
A large, loyal following pushes Rogue from last year’s second to this year’s first place. Rogue Training Systems has programs for all levels
of runners.

Camp Gladiator Run Team 23%
This program started as a free training group two years ago and “took off.” Camp Gladiator Run Team, which focuses on half and full marathon distances, is led by coach Ali Christoph.

Gilbert’s Gazelles 19%
Beginner to elite runners train with Gilbert Tuhabonye, noted runner and author of “This Voice in My Heart.”


Indoor Cycling Instructor

David Garza (Castle Hill Fitness) 22%
Garza may look familiar—he’s in your top three triathletes as well.

Ryon Talbot (Pure Austin) 21%

Kathy Redden (Pure Austin) 4%



Austin is home to quite a few amazing triathletes, and here are the three our readers focused on for this year.

Lindsey Morris Ginko 14%
Ginko is an ambassador for lululemon athletica and exercise instructor at Life Time Fitness (South). Over the last 4 years, she’s worked up from sprint to Ironman triathlon; Ginko just recently competed in the Ironman 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas.

David Garza 12%
Garza makes it on the list for the fourth time. The triathlete (Ironman since ’09) and cycling instructor (Castle Hill Fitness) lives by the motto “Inspire by example.”

Desiree Ficker 9%
Ficker is the only professional triathlete in the top three, and you’ve seen her often in AFM. Ficker started out in cross country/track and field; in 1999, she bought her first tri bike and went on to qualify for Kona (Ironman World Championships) that same year. Most recently, Ficker won the women’s race at the 2011 Austin Marathon with a time of 2:50.35 (6.31 mile pace).


Outdoor Fitness Activity

AFM just wanted to see what our fit citizens like to do when they’re outside in Austin.

Running 27%
Bootcamps 26%
Cycling 6%
SUP 5%


CrossFit Facility

With the popularity of CrossFit exploding here in Austin, AFM added this new category for readers to pick their favorite locations.

CrossFit Central 23%
CrossFit Round Rock 11%
Woodward CrossFit 9%



The streets and trails abound with great runners in the Austin area. Some of these may be new to you but they’re all standouts.

Gilbert Tuhabonye 13%
No surprise here – Tuhabonye, head of Gilbert’s Gazelles and cross country coach for St. Andrews, grew up a runner, representing Burundi in the Olympics as an 11th grader. He was also a national champion at Abilene Christian University and has been a staple in the Austin road running and training scene.

Ali Christoph 10%
Christoph is director and trainer with Camp Gladiator; she’s a former U.S. National Team and All-American collegiate soccer player, with a recent Boston-qualifying marathon time of 3:09.

Scott MacPherson 8%
He’s young and a winner (Cap 10K and, most recently, 2011 Rock N Roll San Antonio half marathon with a time of 1:04.27). MacPherson was an All-American runner at University of Arkansas. He relocated to Austin to train with Steve Sisson as part of the Team Rogue Elite training group and is preparing to run the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston on January 14.



In last year’s poll, AFM had one category for “Best Austin Race.” This year, we separated into specific categories for road and triathlon, which gave you twice as many outstanding Austin events to recognize.

AVIA Austin Triathlon 41%
This High Five event made last year’s combined list at #2 and was recognized by Outside Magazine in its list of “15 Best Big City Races in America.” September 3, 2012

CapTexTri 16%
Part of the Life Time Triathlon Series, this event is going into its twenty-second year in 2012 and attracts a stellar crowd of triathletes. May 28, 2012

Danskin 9%
A women’s only race, this sprint-distance triathlon is a gateway for many into the world of triathlon. Race motto: “The woman who starts the race is not the same woman who finishes the race.” June 3, 2012



Laura CaJacob 31%
CaJacob tops the bunch again. You can find her at Pure Austin, helping clients with their nutrition needs.

Carly Pollack 18%
One of the first nutritionists for Whole Foods Markets, Pollack now speaks and gives workshops as part of her independent practice.

Meredith Terranova 8%
Ultra marathoner Terranova recently added “Ironman” to her resume; last year’s second place nutritionist helps athletes of all abilities with dietary needs.


Post Workout Place to Eat

These places offer up that post-workout nutrition that Austin athletes crave.

Whole Foods Market 22%
The winner is also the winner of the “Best Restaurant for a fit lifestyle” category, which is as it should be.
525 North Lamar Boulevard
9607 Research Boulevard

My Fit Foods 7%
This one topped the “Pre-packaged healthy meals” category as well. Pick it up or eat it there to satisfy your post-workout hunger.
3201 Bee Caves Road, Suite 105
10740 Research Boulevard
4200 North Lamar Boulevard
4301 W. William Cannon Drive, Building G, Suite 300

Daily Juice/Juiceland 6%
There’s a bit of confusion here: there’s a location on Barton Springs that used to be Daily Juice and is now Juiceland. Readers seemed to be a bit confused. Here’s a bit of information on both, so that you can try them out and arrive at your own decision:

Daily Juice —

Juiceland —


Pre-packaged Healthy Meals

Eating well doesn’t have to be boring or labor-intensive, and these three favorites prove that.

My Fit Foods 45%
No other category winner captured this high of a percentage of votes; their motto is “Eat Fit. Live Fit.”

Snap Kitchen 28%
Austin-based newcomer to the pre-packaged scene, Snap Kitchen focuses on “Fresh, healthy take-away” at their storefront in the Triangle.

Mel’s Meals 16%
Two of the top three triathletes in this year’s pick (Ginko and Garza) are on the Mel’s Meals team, which aims to deliver healthy meals to homes and offices.


Running Race

Capitol 10K 22%
It’s the largest 10K in Texas and fun for the whole family. March 25, 2012

Austin Marathon 19%
The Austin Marathon has been around for years, with various courses and sponsors. It’s the capstone of the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge for those on the marathon track. February 19, 2012

3M Half Marathon 18%
Only 6 votes separated your second and third choice. This race is a great one for speed and is coming up soon on the calendar. It is also race #4 in the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge. January 29, 2012


Yoga Studio

Black Swan Yoga 27%
Austin’s co-operatively-run, donation-based studio moved from second to first place.

Yoga Yoga 14%
Last year’s #1 has five locations around Austin, all designed exclusively around practicing yoga.

Yoga Vida 7%
First studio to offer “hot” yoga in Austin (1999) knocked last year’s 3rd off the list.


Restaurants for a Fit Lifestyle

You can throw a stick and hit a restaurant in Austin, but these eateries are the type of place where you can get a meal without remorse.

Whole Foods Market 16%
525 North Lamar Boulevard
9607 Research Boulevard

Casa De Luz 8%
1701 Toomey Road

Galaxy Café 5%
1000 West Lynne Street
4616 Triangle Avenue
9911 Brodie Lane


Bike Shops

These must be definitive, as all three appeared in last year’s poll. Only the order changed.

Jack and Adam’s 29%
Still number one. Jack and Adam’s specializes in triathlon needs, and they have a hand in many of the events in and around town. The store also offers free runs, core workouts, and bike rides.

Mellow Johnny’s 21%
Moved into second place this year. They are located in the heart of downtown, and even have showers for bike commuters to use.

Bicycle Sport Shop 18%
Fell to third. Bicycle Sports Shop has three locations around town and provide route-planning help for cyclists.


Adventure Race

Some of you just like to get off the beaten path…and get a bit dirty in your races.

Tough Mudder 26%
It’s got 18 obstacles over 9 miles and advertises “free beer, live music, free permanent tattoo.” January 29 & 30, 2012

Warrior Dash 18%
Calling itself “a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from Hell,” the 2011 event was held on November 19-20 in Central Texas; participants get a Viking helmet (yes, really). 2012 events will be held in North or East Texas.

Gladiator Games 17%
Camp Gladiator put on the Gladiator Games in Austin in May of 2011. Participants competed in a 5K, an obstacle course, and fitness stations with an over-all winner declared at the end.


Best Pilates

Surprising results—none of last year’s top three Pilates studios made the list in this year’s edition.

Mauro Pilates 15%
Westlake studio offers Pilates on the Stott V2Max Plus Reformer.

Redbird Pilates & Fitness 12%
This East Austin studio fuses “exercise arts” into “exercise regiments” for a leaner, longer, stronger body.

Castle Hill Fitness 9%
#2 in our “Best Local Gym” category also offers a full spectrum of Pilates instructors and classes.


Martial Arts Studio

Austin Muay Thai & Jiu Jitsu 36%
This studio offers Muay Thai/Thai Boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at their Cedar Park location.

Fit & Fearless 22%
While Fit & Fearless picked up more votes this year, they dropped from first to second place in the results. The studio teaches Krav Maga, the Israeli defense system.

Elite Martial Arts 4%
Their motto is “Fight to be fit,” and the studio combines a variety of styles (Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu-Jitsu, and others) for “Street Smart” self-defense.


Nonprofit focused on fitness

LiveStrong Foundation 20%
The LiveStrong Foundation works to identify the issues faced by cancer survivors in order to comprehensively improve quality of life for members of the global cancer community.

Active Life 13%
Active Life seeks to make healthy the norm by generating a persistent demand for healthy living among all sectors of society.

Marathon Kids 7%
Marathon Kids goal is for children to “develop the love and habit of moving through space and to carry forward the power of muscular, nutritional, and psychological well-being.”


Barre Studio

This workout gives the long, lean muscles that make dancers so beautiful (and so fit); with its rising popularity, it was time to give barre a category.

Pure Barre 34%
“Lift, tone, burn” is their motto for this fusion of dance, Pilates, and yoga.

Dancers Shape 25%
This boutique studio adds cardio dance into the barre mix.

The Bar Method 11%
Combining interval training, isometrics, principles of dance conditioning, and the science of physical therapy for a powerful workout.


Massage Therapist/Studio

If you’re an athlete, sooner or later you’ll ask a friend, “Do you have a massage therapist you like?” Here’s how Austin answered that question.

Austin Bodyworker/Michelle Hitner 7%
Austin Bodyworker offers a variety of massages for all needs.

Austin Deep 5%
Endorsed by Gilbert Tuhabonye, this small clinic specializes in deep tissue massage.

Massage Envy
This is a full service spa with 5 Austin-area clinics to choose from.


Fitness Apparel Retailer

Just because you’re working out doesn’t mean you don’t want to look good or have the best gear. These Austin-area retailers are your choice for all your sports needs. And because only 7 votes separated your #3 and #4, we’ve put your fourth choice in as well.

Lululemon athletica 29%
1016 West 6th Street
116 11600 Century Oaks Terrace (the Domain)

Luke’s Locker 21%
115 Sandra Muraida Way

RunTex 13%
422 West Riverside Drive
2201 Lake Austin Boulevard
3616 Far West Boulevard, Suite 120

Rogue Equipment
500 San Marcos Street



Related Articles