Sports & Recreation
2019 Readers Poll
2019 Critics Picks

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Body-Positive Blacklight Workout

It’s tough to find a boxing gym that doesn’t feel intimidating, but Knockout somehow manages to not only feel inclusive to all levels (from beginner to pro), but also to kick your butt in the 45-minute class time. With its black walls and forgiving red and blue lights, even in a classroom with 23 other students it gives the illusion that you have your own personal space. And just when you're on the brink of giving up, the black lights turn on and fire you up again.

1211 W. Sixth #100

Best Bout Machine

In the squared circle, they don't come better than Albert Christian Hardie Jr., aka professional wrestler ACH. The globe-trotting, high-flying, hard-hitting, broad-smiling Austin hero has put the hurt on his opponents in every major promotion, from New Japan Pro-Wrestling to Ring of Honor. Now, wrestling as Jordan Myles for the WWE's NXT brand, the man they call the King of Texas is bringing his skills to a national audience. But it's as the man behind wrestling stable Team Super Academia, and as a mentor to many, that we celebrate his impact.

photo by Shelley Hiam

Photo courtesy University of Texas Athletics Photography

Best College Basketball Tournament

Open to the big boys, unlike Dr. James Naismith’s NAIA, and with a richer history than the newcomer NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, the National Invitation Tournament dates back to 1938, with the final four played every year in storied Madison Square Garden. And no, of course we’re not just saying this because the UT Longhorns won the NIT this year. Of course not. Hook ’em.

Best Dog Walking (or Watching)

Tucked away against the Colorado River, the open field at Commons Ford Ranch offers dog owners and lovers a comfortable spot to lie down, spread out, and release the hounds. Although technically not one of the city’s designated off-leash areas, the combination of location – secluded from busy roadways, ringed by trees, and bordered by the river – and an unspoken agreement between park visitors to blissfully ignore leash laws have turned it into a paradise for happy-go-lucky dogs to swim, run, bark, and beg for picnic scraps from strangers. The park also provides an abundance of tree-shaded hiking trails and bird-watching in its restored prairieland, but the real treat here is the reminder of a simple truth: At the end of the day, there’s nothing quite as soul-reviving as a dog at play.

Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park
614 N. Commons Ford Rd.

Photo by John Anderson

photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Hotel Pool View

While it's only open to guests on weekends, Monday through Friday, pool-hungry members of the general public can snag all-day access to this stunning saltwater infinity pool for a mere 25 bucks. Paddle up to the edge and survey their matchless view of the lake with a cocktail from the poolside bar in hand. It's the kind of grownup sick day that's well worth playing hooky for.

The Line Hotel Austin
111 E. Cesar Chavez

Best Soccer Referee

No contest, really. The Moroccan-born Elfath has moved up from Austin rec leagues, to his first pro experience doing Austin Aztex games at House Park, to become one of the top refs in Major League Soccer and one of only six FIFA-accredited refs in the U.S. This may have been his best year, working at both the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he was in charge for the Championship Final, earning the Austin Soccer Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, and ending the year with two MLS playoff games in the last couple of weeks.

photo courtesy of Austin Soccer Foundation

photo by David Brendan Hall

Best Training for the Inevitable Apocalypse

You may not think you need to know how to build survival tools or navigate by nature, but Buzz Mill’s Lumber Society is determined to save you despite yourself. Consider it non-paranoid prepper training, or Scouts with beer. Hosted by the local coffeehouse, Lumber Society camp master Chris Hyde leads workshops on everything from archery to shelter building, and group camping trips and community service efforts provide social opportunities while society lasts.

Buzz Mill
1505 Town Creek

Best Workout With Wine

Ever drifted into savasana dreaming a glass of wine would appear on your mat to extend your state of relaxation? Vino Vinyasa has brought this concept to fruition by pairing an all-levels yoga class with an educational wine tasting. While the vino is only consumed after the vinyasa, you’ll whet your palate with wine facts and wine-inspired poses throughout. These mindful tastings are held as pop-up events in hotels, wineries, event spaces, or as a private class in your home.

Photo by Bret Brookshire

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2019 Intro

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