Life throws some shit at you and usually it is all at once. No matter how hard you try to script it, or you try to mold around it, Life still comes at you hard. The wife has written a great blog on our long time friend and gym member, Jacob Holmes. This is my dedication to him and his legacy as our friend.
I crossed paths with Jacob Holmes many times before we ended up at here at SC Barbell. We used to all go to this hole in the wall gym run by a lunatic named Matt. He ran a gym here in Columbia called Lord’s Gym. Lord’s Gym was probably the most fantastic gym I have been to…ever! I have a great old school gym and I have been to a lot of great gyms throughout the US but Lord’s was a dump of pure gold. The equipment was older then I was at the time (way older, this was 1990 to 1991). There as NO heat or AC. People puked off the dock out back on the regular. Matt walked around with ridiculous quads (like Tom Platzish, his upper body was big but nowhere near his legs). He did absurd shit like have people eat a loaf of bread then train, puke it up follow that with handfuls of liver tabs and more loaves of bread. Gross! There were some big bastards in there. I did my thing and kept to myself mostly but watching the circus on a daily basis was awesome. I began in a smaller dungeon gym atmosphere in Sumter in the late 80s so the adjustment for me was easy and a very comfortable fit. The thing about this type of gym is obviously the brotherhood that developed but also it was the kind of gym where you went to get shit done. Little did I know that many of the people I saw at Lord’s Gym would become life long friends. It was at Lord’s Gym where I first met Jacob and his crew of friends.
Fast forward about five years, After graduating college, getting my first job, getting fired from my first job, working at another job where the company went belly up and ending up at another shitty job, I ended up at Don’s Gym in 1997. Shortly after that, I began working at the gym on Saturday mornings. A few months later, I would get fired again from the last shitty job I would have and move on to working at the gym and personal training full time. Getting back to the Saturday’s part time at the gym, I was scared to death of messing up the job somehow. I did not have much confidence in myself. This is where I really met Jacob Holmes, the Orange jacket and the rest of the crew. Holmes was a teacher and later became a school principal. Don, at the time, was in his own personal crisis(s) so me pulling the Saturday morning shift was one more thing he didn’t have to worry about. Don gave me a key, the time to be here and how to turn the lights on. That is about it, well maybe the password to the computer.
As I would learn later, Saturday mornings were letting loose time for Holmes and the crew. No matter how loud the radio was, they were louder and louder. They knew, in the beginning, I was nervous that their loudness was disrupting the other members so they usually got louder, cackled harder and talked more shit to each other. As, uncomfortable as their shit talking was sometimes, you would swear they were gonna fight. Some members complained but normally they just moved somewhere else in the gym.
Holmes was a big guy and he loved to work arms. He worked his legs and every other part but the “Gunz” always got more work and elicited the largest shit talking. Part of his ritual was to do sets and scream Rick Flair sayings like, “to be the man , you got to beat the man, woooooo!” I mean scream too like look you dead in the eye after a set and do some Macho Man, “OHHHH YEAAAHH!” He had his own sayings, too. ” YEAH BABY!”, “GOT TO GET BIGGER!”, “GOTTA WORK!!!” and his favorite; “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!!!” His eyes were huge anyhow but they were the size of ping pong balls when he would yell at you. He wore a state champion jacket from the school he worked at. No matter how hot or cold, he would have his jacket on. Remember this is South Carolina where it is humid and always near a 100 degrees in the summer. On most days, he would wear this jacket and train hard in it. He never wore shorts either. So it was like a sauna suit and on Saturday they would get here at 8:30 or 9 and not leave till 2 or 3 sometimes. Their energy was distracting but contagious. It was just a fun group of guys talking so much shit that they made people uncomfortable(imagine the other people with fart face and you got it). I often kidded him that when it was his time we would go out in that stinky old ass jacket.
I really can’t remember a time where Jacob made me mad. He always had a smile, a joke and in general he was very comforting to be around. I don’t know of anyone who was ever mad at him. Jacob was just a good guy. For the 20 plus years I knew him he mostly called me “Player Player” or “Marky Marc”. I think the good days it was “Player Player” and the not quite as good a day it was “Marky Marc”. His pal, Gip, would call me “Money” and still does. No rhyme or reason, just what they called me for 20 years. Over the years, Holmes and I had all types of conversations. He witnessed and supported all my changes from scared saturday morning guy to personal trainer to gym/business owner. He spent a lot of time talking with everyone though, like a father talking to all his kids. He lit the gym up no matter how it was that day for you. I tried many a day I was taking shit the wrong way to not perk up when he came in but by the end, I was always a little happier. You really couldn’t keep your mean mug face on with Jacob in the house. I tried a lot.
One of the most impressive things about Jacob was that he was constantly learning and working on himself. Early on in the late 90s to early 2000s, he would tell me about his website, Cerebral Assassins, like he was a super hero. The site was pretty neat and had a lot of imformation there. Later he went back to school and became a Pastor. He never seemed to sit still or take breaks in life. Always something to learn or someone to help or some bicep work to get in.
I never really got into his personal life so Gym Holmes is the man I knew and loved. This past Thursday, Holmes came to the gym not feeling well and looking pale. My wife told him he didn’t look well but Holmes being Holmes said he had a tough day but was gonna work out. A bit later, he called my wife over to laugh about the customer beating an employee of ours was taking. He was concerned the kid needed saving but my wife said “nope, he has to take his beatings”. Holmes did a set of biceps on his favorite curl machine and then laid on the floor. We later found out he had a massive heart attack. My wife and Dale held his hands while another gym member worked on him until the ambulance got there. They held his hands till they put him in the ambulance comforting him all the way telling him how much we loved him . About this time, I had gotten back to the gym and saw Jacob in the back of the ambulance getting worked on. I prayed for him but felt his spirit had gone already. We called around and then went to where we thought they would take him hoping for some better news but we would not know till the next morning that he had indeed left us.
I have not taken this well as most of us have not. Sometimes I feel like I should have been here holding his hand. But it was not meant to be. His best friend, Gip, was suppose to train with him that night but got held up at his house. We both took this pretty hard but it was not in the cards for us. Jacob was surrounded by people who loved him till the end and were there for him. I have had the Pink Floyd song, “Wish you were here” flashing in and out since last Thursday. i have probably listened to it about 25 or 30 times. I can not explain why but this song is what I need right now. I am crying as I write this tribute. Jacob Holmes was a great man and good friend. Most people in life don’t go out on their terms. Jacobs Homes passed doing the three things he loved dearly:
* Training at the gym
* Wearing that damn orange jacket
* Working his Gunz
See you later old friend,