Travis Watkins bridges the gap between two seemingly disparate professions: personal trainer and poet. His experience as a physical education teacher, youth sports coach, and strength-and-conditioning mentor have given him an expert understanding of the body. It was, however, his time as a spoken word artist and Teach for America member that refined his skills in supportive communication, which he incorporates into his training persona.
Today, he guides clients of all ages through customized workouts and boot camps. He might meet them in their own homes for an equipment-free exercise circuit, during which he'll demonstrate moves that utilize bodyweight as resistance. Or, he might teach them proper weight-lifting techniques for boosting muscle mass. When it comes to kids, he leads group classes full of games and obstacle courses as part of Fit Kids Academy, as well as sessions geared toward student athletes.
Thomas Volmer credits his wife, Rachel, for inspiring them to start helming boot camps. She wasn’t always a fitness guru, though. "She was a commercial banker and she was 70 pounds overweight," Volmer recalls. Once she started to reclaim her life, "she just fell in love with fitness," he says. She eventually dropped 80 pounds with proper exercise and nutrition, spurring her to earn her AFAA personal training certification and pursue a career as a full-time trainer.
Personal experience lends Rachel and the other trainers—including Sharon Monk, who lost more than 200 pounds by exercising and eating healthily—empathy and a motivating demeanor when working with campers. At each location, they get groups doing pushups, swinging kettlebells, and flipping tires in a positive environment that's focused on teamwork, rather than competition. "You start as a group, you finish as a group," says Thomas. "But the activities that you do in between might be different based on your abilities."
In addition to leading sessions, Rachel creates easy-to-use online meal plans (including a vegetarian plan), which campers can customize to help them stay on track. Options range from the simple, such as cereal with fruits, nuts, and flaxseeds, to the creative, including honey-sweetened oatmeal peanut-butter cookies. She also includes the calorie count for each recipe. Users can pick from simple meals made for one person or larger entrees designed with an entire family or pet elephant in mind.
Raven Aultman's personal fitness journey started at 253 pounds. Four years later and more than 100 pounds lighter, she's dedicated herself to helping others to reach their weight-loss goals with multifaceted boot camps and sound nutritional guidance. Knowing firsthand what it takes to sculpt a healthy body, Raven is able to tailor her workouts to help clients to effectively slim down without the use of steamrollers and falling grand pianos. She draws from sports drills and resistance training to help groups to collectively trim and tone and customizes individual regimens for one-on-one personal-training sessions.
At Intensity Personal Fitness, National Academy of Sports Medicine–certified trainer Vincent Swiderski and his team of qualified fitness professionals offer clients of all ages one-on-one guidance in effective workout techniques. The spotless, spartan space eschews the weight machines and arm-wrestling robots of traditional gyms in favor of exercises that use natural movements and simple tools. The results is a set of high-intensity routines that build functional strength and organic mobility. Personal trainers push students past their fitness goals with positive motivation and technical know-how.
Students should bring: Towels
Average class length: 30-60 minutes
Number of Staff: 1?5 people
Class location: Mix of indoor and outdoor classes
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Pro Tip: Get ready to have fun and sweat.
Sisters Eliana and Valeria both discovered Zumba during challenging times in their lives⎯Valeria while fighting obesity and Eliana while helping her late husband through cancer treatments. These past experiences inform the sisters’ approaches to the dance classes they lead. Valeria creates a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment for students of all fitness levels, and Eliana wants to offer her students the same freedom and escape she found during one-hour Zumba workouts. Both ladies are certified instructors and teach several subspecies of Zumba dance, including Zumbatomic for children and Zumba Gold for seniors, beginners, and prenatal students. Zumba People also tries to foster a sense of community among its students, hosting costumed dance parties for Halloween and orchestrating the occasional flash mob. Classes are held six days a week, and schedules for the Hurst and Southlake locations vary.