Last week John Frieh posted on social media that he was moving on from Gym Jones. For those of you who don’t know John he was the very first Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor. He was THE O.G. I had decided to move on a few weeks prior but didn’t advertise the fact, until now.


I posted the piece in the link above in March of 2014 when I became a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor. You should read that first.

In that piece I stated “Becoming a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor is way bigger than when I got my college diploma.” I meant that then. I still mean that now.

For two years I held the Gym Jones torch high. I encouraged a couple of friends of mine who I knew were cut of the right cloth to attend Gym Jones Seminars. In the Fall of 2014 I traveled to SLC for a weekend of brainstorming with Mark Twight, Shawn Kingrey and Art O’Conner to develop a Strength for Endurance Athlete Seminar to be held at some point in the future. I was all in and very proud of being a part of the Gym Jones Family.

But things change.

The biggest change is that Gym Jones founder Mark Twight left.

Or was pushed out.

Or there was a mutual parting of the ways.

Or…. the main point is that he is gone. And with his departure went the reason why I was drawn to Gym Jones in the first place.

The beginning of the end was when it was “decided” that Mark could no longer post “negative” pieces on the website.

That quickly became he was no longer permitted to post on the website at all.


Apparently some of the recent seminar attendees (and there had been a lot of them in the past few years) took issue with some of Mark’s posts many of which were listed under a section on the website called Sunday Sermons. It was claimed that he was being too “negative” and that offense was taken by some due to the idea that he was deriding the act of working out in a gym as an end and not the means.

Well, that is kind of the point.

The origin of the Gym Jones project was born from the idea that you trained for an objective. It was born from the idea that in some instances not meeting the objective meant very real consequences. The Gym Jones project was meant as a way to break physical and psychological barriers. It was a place that had an “…expectation that the lessons learned will be applied to something greater than Self, higher than vanity and [ ]expressed outside of the narrow confines of physical appearance and the walls of the gym.”

It was never meant to be a place to get “jacked” or “swole”. It was a place to train – for an objective. If a good physical appearance was a by-product of the training – great – but that was never meant to be the primary goal.

“I’ve said it many times now but I’ll repeat it: the lifting and sprinting and breathing is the easy part. Applying the lessons you learn under that stress or by coming out the other side of it to life outside of the gym or the sport is all that gives the training value. I say fuck training for body composition, for the purely and merely physical. I say, “Hell yeah!” if training opens doors to opportunities you never believed you had access to before you hoisted that weight.” – Mark Twight, Origin January 17, 2016

Gym Jones was a place where athletes, specifically endurance athletes, came to train and came to learn how to use the gym to make themselves better at their primary sport. It was never intended to be the “primary sport”.

The Gym Jones Philosophy was spelled out in every seminar and on the website:

  • The Mind is Primary
  • Outcome based training (train for an objective)
  • Functional training
  • Power to weight ratio (you must carry the engine)
  • Train all energy systems
  • Training is preparation for the real thing, do something with your fitness
  • Nutrition is the foundation
  • Recovery is more than 50% of the process

The Mind is Primary.

That is the very first bullet point listed under The Gym Jones Training Philosophy in my Fundamentals Seminar book from the November 2012 that I attended.

“Accurate self-knowledge precedes behavioral change. Honest, thorough self-assessment isn’t easy so a coach must facilitate self-discovery by exposing physiological and psychological characteristics….


… If the mind doesn’t enjoy hard work, or relish suffering and confronting the unknown then no program, no amount of training can be effective. The physical part is easy – it’s just picking stuff up and putting it down – but if you can’t get it right in your head the physical training will not produce psychological changes that transfer to every aspect of one’s life. Without active mental participation sport may not be used as a tool of self-discovery. The muscle we are interested in training is inside the skull -[emphasis mine].

– Mark Twight, page 3 Fundamentals Seminar Handout

Back to the Sermons.

I looked forward to Mark’s Sunday Sermons, because they made me think. They made me self-assess. They made me reflect. Often they made me change behavior. And that was the point. Yes I was a Certified Instructor but I was also still (and remain) a student. If you think you are done learning then you might as well just stop.

One informal definition of “sermon” in the dictionary is: “A…. piece of admonition or reproof; a lecture.”



“A lecture”

The point of a sermon is to make you think. No matter how harsh or “negative” the language or theme might be, if it promotes honest self—assessment and behavioral change – isn’t that the point? (It is, see above).

The stick can often yield better results than the carrot.

Maybe if the new seminar attendees couldn’t handle Mark’s Sermons then perhaps they weren’t ready to be sitting in this particular church. And Gym Jones was never about lowering standards.

But things change. And Mark is gone.

Maybe I could have stayed on. Maybe I could have tried to keep the flame that Mark lit alive. But at the end of the day Mark Twight is a close friend of mine. And he is gone from Gym Jones. And because of that so am I.

I sent the following email in January:

I am emailing you to let you know that 2016 will be my last year as a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor. I will not be renewing in 2017. I have made this decision after careful consideration over the past year.

I am grateful for my time with Gym Jones and the friends that I have made. I am especially grateful for the personal growth and evolution that I have gone through as a result of Gym Jones. I stand by the statement that one of the proudest moments of my life was when I earned the title of a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor.

There comes a point however where journeys take a different path and I feel that the path Gym Jones is heading down now is not the one for me. As I am sure both of you are aware, Mark was the beacon that drew me to Gym Jones in the first place and his departure and the departure of his voice and influence is the major reason why I have made this decision.

I wish both of you and the gym the best of luck. 

With kindest regards, 

Joe Holmes

 I want to finish this post with Mark’s words. Because, as always, his words are more powerful than mine can ever be.

“I evolved. Gym Jones was born of that growth. But it wasn’t meant to be a destination. Instead, a tool. A step. A classroom. I continue to evolve. The nature of the tool has changed. The lessons it teaches are different.

I have to say that for those of you who have been in and around the gym for a year or two, it’s time to leave, and to do something different. I’ll explain it by way of my own experience: climbing taught me the lesson of leaving the nest. I used what I learned from climbing and what I experienced in the mountains, to fly away. I used the confidence I earned by being a competent climber to flap new wings. In flight I gained different knowledge. Later, when I circled back to the climbing community and environment, when I reacquainted myself with those who had remained in the nest, on the wall, I understood the wisdom of that flight. 

This started as a signal fire. Eventually, it became more permanent – a lighthouse, which is still small, and maybe seasonal. You can camp by the fire. But a camp is temporary. Take what you need, learn as much as you can, and move on, evolve. Even if your evolution takes you away from the warmth of the fire. Perhaps especially so. The horizon you seek to join and cross is not inside four walls.” – Mark Twight, Growing Pain, Feb 28, 2016


Thanks for reading.

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