Temple gym owner trains adults and mentors young men who have had behavioral issues.
Mark Jones, owner of MES Fitt gym in Temple, is known for his faith-based approach to fitness and health. Mark also mentors young residents who have struggled with behavioral issues in the past. The young men now compete on an amateur athletic team that travels to Austin and San Antonio for basketball games. The boys also play football and compete in powerlifting. David Stone photo
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Football was life.
As a talented young athlete from Tennessee, Mark Jones was heavily recruited by football factories such as Alabama. For academic reasons, he settled on Panhandle State University in Oklahoma and excelled as a big fish in a small pond. His play-making skills caught the eyes of NFL scouts.
Mark wasn’t drafted, but he received training camp invites from the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. He ended up as a star in the arena leagues, playing for the Oklahoma City Wranglers, the Austin Wranglers and a little ol’ team in Belton.
Football fans who were in Central Texas in 2008 might remember Mark as a hard-hitting linebacker for the beloved CenTex Barracudas. While the team’s name might have been a bit misplaced, the high-energy team captured the hearts of fans at the Bell County Expo Center.
“Oh yeah,” Mark said. “We were good — we almost won the championship. I destroyed my knee though, and I tried to bounce back too fast. I wanted to play again after 10 months, but the doctor said that wasn’t long enough to fully recover. He wouldn’t release me to play.”
While his days in a ‘Cudas uniform were done, Mark was picked up by a team in California.
“I packed up and headed west,” he remembers. “I was well on my way and I got a call from my girlfriend. She was pregnant, so I turned the car around and came back to Texas — not to play football, but to be a dad.”
“Sports and fitness were always part of my life,” he said. “I had put all my eggs in one basket, then my injury changed everything. I thought: ‘Now what?’”
Mark had graduated PSU with a double major — athletic training and physical education, so he began substitute teaching in the Temple and Belton school districts. He also worked as a crisis counselor for battered women and children. After years of dishing out punishment on the football field, Mark helped heal folks with physical and emotional scars.
“My substitute teaching led to full-time jobs at local school districts,” he said. “I was a coach and behavior interventionist at Travis Middle School working with PASS students.”
PASS or Positive Alternative to School Suspension programs, are short-term, on-site intervention classroom initiatives designed to address the needs of students who have committed a school-level behavioral infraction. Mark was responsible for managing the behavior of students identified as behaviorally at-risk or emotionally disturbed.
“These students were not able to sit in a regular classroom, so we worked with them one-on-one in a controlled environment,” he said. “These were kids with rough backgrounds — some were crack babies with emotional issues, and almost all grew up in poverty and had trouble dealing with authority.”
“These kids were being overlooked, but I mentored them and they became my group,” Mark said. “I left the school system in 2019, but a lot of these kids are still with me. I got them involved in sports and we developed an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team.”
While he was still working in the education system, Mark became a personal trainer on the side.
“That was 2017, and I was affiliated with a few gyms in the area,” he said. “For a while, I was using a fitness center at an apartment complex. It was rarely used by tenants, and they let me train people there.”
Business was doing well. He had set a goal of 100 clients, and was at 75 when COVID arrived in Texas. Business plummeted.
“I was down to 10 clients,” he said. “It was a struggle. I took some time and prayed over my situation, and I had a vision. I wanted my own gym.”
A search for a facility didn’t yield results, then one day he got a call from a building owner who had a place on Cottingham.
“He offered it to me at a very fair price,” Mark said. “That’s when I decided to go into it full time.”
MES Fitt — it stands for Mentoring, Events, Sports and Fitness — is a small full-service gym still located on Cottingham. The facility offers training with barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells, plus a little martial arts and cardio. The inside is rather small, but tire flipping and other activities are conducted outside.
Most of his clients are in their mid 20s to mid 40s, and he still works with youth as well. In addition to training services, Mark also offers his clients a meal plan and even a shopping option.
“I want them to eat healthy, and if they need help I’ll actually go to the grocery store and make recommendations,” he said. “Personally, I don’t eat anything with more than seven ingredients. You got to read the labels — if there are more than seven ingredients or if the ingredients sound like a science experiment, don’t buy it.”
“I teach healthy eating of non processed foods,” he said. “I don’t push diets like Keto or Mediterranean — just healthy eating.”
Mark still has his AAU team and he is always looking for new members.
“It’s more than just an all-sports league, it’s a mentoring program,” he said. “We play a lot of basketball and travel to games in Austin and San Antonio, but we are incorporating other sports as well such as 7-on-7 flag football and powerlifting.”
“Right now, I have about 15 kids and I’m trying to build up the program,” he said. “And those sixth-graders I had back at Travis who loved to fight and run off teachers? Most are now successful. They work and they are part of the community — one is a pretty decent MMA fighter.”
MES Fitt is holding a Family Field Day on Saturday, June 4, at Bethel Assembly of God Church, 22621 SE Dodgen Loop in Temple. Activities will include relay races, obstacle courses, water games and family fun. For more information about Family Day or MES Fitt, call Mark at (254) 421-3460.
After 50 years, former organist returns for FUMC concert
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
First United Methodist Church has the perfect recipe for a great concert.
You start with the finest and largest pipe organ in Central Texas, then add the hands of one of the best organists in the world. The results will be an evening of outstanding classical music in Downtown Temple.
The May 15 concert is free and is co-sponsored by the church and the Central Texas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The concert will begin at 4 p.m.
“First United Methodist Church wants to be part of the exciting Downtown community, and we hope to take advantage of our large sanctuary,” said Dr. Carl C. Bradley, FUMC organist. “It’s a large venue. The church was built in 1913 and it seats 1,000 people.”
The concert will serve as a homecoming of sorts.
“Susan Ferré will be performing,” Bradley said. “She is a world renowned organist, but she was the church organist here at First United Methodist in Temple back in the early 1970s. She’s coming home.”
Ferré resides in Gorham, New Hampshire, where she founded a non-profit organization, Music in the Great North Woods. The group promotes concerts free of charge, including the annual Big Moose Bach Fest, and provides scholarships for young organists.
She is the organist and music director at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Berlin, NH.
Ferré has played more than 50 concerts in Europe, including a performance at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and in Brazil, Canada, and throughout the US.
A graduate of TCU, she co-founded and directed the Texas Baroque Ensemble, offering performances of little-known and major works, promoting early singing styles and using original instruments.
At FUMC in Temple, Ferré will be performing on the church’s 2004 pipe organ that features more than 3,000 pipes.
TUESDAY | MAY 10, 2022
today’s best bets
Tipsy Tuesday at Corky’s. It’s Ladies Night, 1/2 off Corky’s Cocktails
Lonesome Dove: The Photo Exhibit runs through June 25. The exhibit is a collection of black-and-white framed photos captured by the late Bill Wittliff, renowned photographer, writer, and co-executive producer of the popular Western mini-series.
Clay with Marilyn at the Cultural Activities Center. Go to cacarts.org to sign up for her series of classes.
Czech Film Night & Matinee at The Beltonian Theatre, 219 E. Central in Belton. Presented by the Czech Heritage Museum. Gourmet concessions and imported Czech beer. Free admission. 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
To include your events in What’s Happening, email information to OurTownTemple@gmail.com. Photos are welcome to for use in the publication as space permits!
Was alcohol hard to come by in 1901 Temple? ANSWER IS AT END OF TODAY’S ISSUE
On this day in 1893, a group of writers attending the Texas Press Association meeting in Dallas formed the Texas Woman's Press Association, which later became Texas Press Women. The group was led by Aurelia H. Mohl of Houston. Its purpose was to encourage Texas woman writers and illustrators through organized activities and communication with similar groups. Thirty-eight women, representing eighteen Texas towns, became charter members. Membership was originally restricted to whites. At the time, there were few other statewide women's groups in Texas. The Texas Equal Rights Association, the first statewide female suffrage organization, was founded on the same day and in the same hotel, the Windsor. The TERA was committed to securing voting and political rights for women on the same terms as men, including the right to hold political office and serve on juries.
TODAY’S TEMPLE TRIVIA ANSWER: Hardly. Truth is, there was a bar here seven months before Temple became a town. Early Temple residents were a thirsty lot — in 1901 the city had 21 whiskey saloons and 19 beer joints. The town was only about 2 square miles at the time, so there literally was a bar — or two — on just about every block.