Written by: Katlyn Shull
Growing up in the 60’s Le Count Holmes had a passion for exercising. Holmes was born in Washington, DC but growing up he has lived in Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Ann Arbor. At an early age he joined the Boy Scouts and fell in love with swimming and is an avid swimmer to this day. He also learned to ride a bike at the age of 4 and has never lived anywhere without a bicycle.
As an adult, Holmes continued to be involved in all sorts of physical fitness activities and he set his sights on weightlifting, a huge interest to him. Always a person to push himself, he set a goal that by his 49th birthday he would be able to bench press 300 pounds. At the age of 48, Holmes worked hard to accomplish this dream and the day before his birthday he not only bench pressed 300 pounds but 350 pounds. When Holmes was 55, he was in the Senior Olympics and medaled in both track and field, and swimming.
At the age of 68 when he was teaching a water aerobics class for Prince George’s County Department of Recreation, Holmes passed out. He was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. Before this episode, Holmes had no prior knowledge of atrial fibrillation and though he had been treated for high blood pressure, which put him at a heightened risk. After a catheterization procedure and recovery Holmes continued his health journey and teaching water aerobics. Setting new goals, he focused his sights on entrepreneurship. When Covid hit, his fitness classes moved to Zoom and although he was intimidated by this, he took a Zoom tutorial and learned how to do it on his own so he could still offer classes. He began to realize that he could start his own program and started working on his vision to do so. But once more, things did not go exactly as planned.
As he was starting to pick up steam, Holmes tested positive for Covid-19 and was in the hospital for 14 days due to complications from COVID including pneumonia and an aneurysm. While there, his blood pressure would peak at 180 over 105 even though he was still taking medication for it. All of Holmes’ doctors agreed that if he had not been in such good health, his prognosis might not have been so good. He said, “there are two different types of death, one when you are dead and the other when you are living death. “ He says that he never wants to experience the “living dead” version of death – a huge driver in his focus on health and well-being.
After his setback, Holmes charged full steam ahead to move forward with his program, “Seniors Up and Moving.” He wanted to start this for people who need it – to help others on their health journey and give them the resources to do so. This is an exercise group that meets over zoom for 1 hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. . They have guest speakers come in the last Thursday of every month for information about different health problems. Holmes has also created a newsletter to help spread information on senior health issues.
Holmes refers to himself as a “comeback senior.” He shares, “when you refuse to pass the baton correctly you hinder generations to come, but when you pass it correctly you empower generations to come.” He works on “passing the baton” correctly to others because he feels that is his responsibility as a human being. Holmes also shared “the name of life’s game is don’t give, as long as I live, I will always exercise.”
Holmes shared some last comments and how he feels about having a healthy lifestyle. “By the time you reach what is defined as a senior, it is our responsibility to make sure that we are healthy, and it is obvious that this window of time that we have on mother earth isn’t as long as it once was. Don’t live your life in a reckless way and be more conscious of things like high blood pressure and going to the doctor.” Holmes is currently 71 years old, and he says he “feels 40 years younger.” He is excited for his new business venture, “Seniors Up and Move,” and sharing the importance of health with other seniors who value their health like he values his.
Sharing the stories of the work of the American Heart Association to remove the barriers of health in all communities is my passion.