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.
Though Papa G's Sports Bar & Grill churns out a menu of hearty eats—from decadent cheese-stuffed burgers to spicy buffalo wings—the real draw of the joint is its fun, laid-back atmosphere. A spacious patio lined with shaded tables welcomes guests to sip on one of the daily drink specials, shoot the breeze with friends, or catch a live show. Inside, a tall, lofted ceiling overlooks multiple pool tables, dartboards, and a dance floor that, during weekly events, becomes packed with swaying customers and antsy former boy-band members looking to strut their stuff one last time.
In 2012, the Stampede pulled off an unlikely upset when they toppled the seemingly unbeatable Collin County Rattlers in the third annual Shanklin Bowl, capturing their first Minor Professional Football League championship. The victory brought glory to Bedford, where the team plays all of its home games at Pennington Stadium—a 12,500-seat multipurpose venue that also hosts many of the area's biggest high-school games. To stay in touch with the surrounding community, the Stampede, now a member of the Professional American Football League, resist the urge to toss tin-can walkie-talkies into random open windows and instead raise awareness on issues through frequent outreach efforts.
Since age 3, Dana Bailey has been twirling to her own beat, progressing from childhood cha-chas to appearances in promotions for Pepsi and JC Penney. After studying under instructors in California and New York City, Dana now offers pintsize patrons the same opportunity to get a head start in the performing arts with child and teen dance classes. She enlists working industry pros to wrangle kids as young as 2.5 in tap, ballet, and tumbling classes atop pliable wood and marley floors.
The boys' tap, jazz, and hip-hop classes accommodate a demographic often overlooked by the dance industry and prepare a studio team for local and national performances. Instructors regularly glean pointers from top national choreographers to craft classes such as Teen Hip Hop, which equips students with basic moves and combos that, much like the prom held outside the Grammys, are set to a soundtrack of current hits.
Big Barn Bar-B-Que's specialty dry-rubbed and pecan-smoked meats stock hungry mouths with succulent tastes backed by a cavalcade of sides. The menu enumerates a choice of 10 different meats, including two-meat plates that pair together savory combinations of carnivorous fare such as a tender arrangement of chopped brisket, classic baby back ribs, or jalapeño-cheddar sausage. Sides such as coleslaw and potato salad celebrate refreshing, cooling textures, and crisp fried okra and onion rings tantalize taste buds more completely than PhD students learn the alphabet. As duos, quartets, or sextets revel in smoky delights and share tastes, iced teas, fountain drinks, and coffee anoint liquid intake apparatuses in preparation for a finishing course of just desserts—seasonal cobblers packing a palatable punch of fruits such as strawberry or peach and Mama's famous banana pudding, which reveals a union of fresh-blended bananas and crisp vanilla wafers.
Just off a straight stretch of the Trinity River, the sounds of laughter and victorious whooping grow louder. A curious look toward the hubbub yields a vision rarely seen in the city—helmet-clad athletes of all ages splash along the water's surface, launching their bodies in what looks like the offspring of water-skiing and snowboarding onto ramps, jumps, and railings that protrude from the water's surface like geometric islands. It's all part of a regular afternoon at Cowtown Wakepark, the watery brainchild of 20-year wakeboarding enthusiast Tommy Fambrough. During the course of three years, Tommy slowly formed the labyrinth of water-bound obstacles that visitors enjoy today, earning acclaim from the Trinity River Vision Authority's revitalization project for his riverside paradise's part in keeping the area an accessible and productive part of the community.
Each wakeboarding run begins when visitors strapped into their Liquid Force boards grab a cable and are pulled from the shore-side wooden platform across the water, cutting through the river's calm surface and pausing only to heckle passing fish. Spectators stick to the shore under covered tents and at picnic tables, or recline on the water's surface inside tented rafts. Onsite instructors can show first-timers the ropes, and also lead summer day camps to instill children aged 7–16 with wakeboarding, kneedboarding, and wakeskating basics.