Henry Lovelace, a giant in the fitness world passed away on Saturday at his gym, Wild Horse Fitness in West County.
His daughter, Alexandria Ann Lovelace –Alex– followed his footsteps in fitness and body building competitions. She is a multi-time medalist, as a competitive bikini model contestant who has been very successful in her young career.
“I have been working closely with my dad since his dream (Wild Horse) was opened in 2012, seeing him all day,” Alex Lovelace told STLSportsPage.com. “He made me who I am, to sum it up in one word I would say: strong.”
“Henry definitely passed along the love and drive for the field to his daughter,” said Monica Adams, of Today in St. Louis on KSDK. “She worked side by side with him at Wild Horse.”
“The St Louis fitness scene will never be the same. He was an icon in the fitness world,” she said.
The owner of the fitness center on Kehrs Mill Road in Ballwin, Henry Lovelace was an expert in contest prep, probably because he was a multi-time NPC competition medalist himself. The NPC, or National Physique Committee is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States. Lovelace was an elite bodybuilder who successfully transitioned himself from elite athlete into elite coach and trainer. He had a huge following.
“He loved to compete in competitions,” said Jillian Tedesco, Founder/Owner of fit-flavors Healthy Meals to go. “Henry was drawn to competitions because he used to tell me he was competing with himself. Henry took a lot of pride in Wild Horse Fitness and was a trainer down to his core.”
Alex Lovelace said that from a very young age she went everywhere with him, which included the gym.
“He would take me to pre-school which was the hardest for the both of us,” she remembered. “I was so attached to him that I would scream and hold on to him with all my might when he tried to drop me off.”
He later told her it broke his heart to see her so sad.
“We would sit in his truck way before the start of school so he could try and talk me down because he knew what was to come,” she said.
Her mother, his former wife, Teresa Mae Allen remembered how hard it was for them to be separated. They were married at the time and with her work schedule, he had many of the morning parental duties.
“My mom told me, ‘He’d drop you off then call me at work to tell me that it’s not fair. He LOVED his time with you. Since I worked he took over – he dressed you in whatever you wanted, which often included a lace dressy-dress with tennis shoes, lol.’ She told me he would put my hair up in a big pony tail, and said, ‘you were best buds.’”
Allen and Henry Lovelace met in high school and she moved to St. Louis with him and his family. They had two children and after their separation and divorce they worked together for their children.
“They were able to communicate and work together when they needed to for my brother and I,” said Alex.
Her brother, their son, Henry Donald Lovelace III, known as Donnie was his other source of pride. He is in the National Guard and recently got married to his wife Toni.
Alex shared on her Facebook page that her father’s last words to her included how proud he was of her and her brother.
Henry Lovelace was a two-time Mr. Missouri and named Missouri strongest man under 190 pounds. He was a Show Me natural bodybuilding champion.
He built Wild Horse Fitness into a place like no other. It offers: professional personal training, fitness classes, racquetball courts, steam room, sauna, childcare, a salon/ spa– and even a café & smoothie bar.
His Facebook page was filled with quotes like “Lots of things these days getting in the way of your progress? Fight it! To the end scratch and claw and be relentless, because in the end you win.” On the day he passed away he posted “If you woke up without a goal, go back to sleep.”
Former KMOV news anchor Steve Savard, who now anchors the news on KOLR in Springfield, Missouri called him a fantastic gym owner.
“We became friends over the course of 17 years and two of his gyms,” said Savard. “He had a big, big heart.”
Tedesco worked for him when she first moved to St. Louis in 2004. Years later, she hired him as her trainer in 2011-2014.
“Although Henry could look intimidating and was hard on his clients, if you knew him, you knew how big his heart was,” she said. “He was extremely disciplined when it came to his nutrition and fitness and held those same expectations for his clients. Anyone who worked with him knows he cared as much about nutrition as fitness.”
He died of a heart attack while at his gym. The last conversation he had with his daughter may have been a little foreshadowing. Among some of the other things he said were, “I always want to be remembered as strong and proud and (that I) earned everything I have.”
“He helped me,” said his daughter Alex, “And he helped anyone around him when they needed him. I may be strong but I still needed him.”
“I consider my career a gift, seeing things in people they can’t see or won’t see in themselves. I can help change your life.” — Henry Lovelace
Henry Lovelace’s family plans a tribute to him at Wild Horse Fitness at 1 p.m. Saturday, January 22, 2022. For any updates, check their Facebook page. CLICK HERE.
Photos courtesy of Alex Lovelace, Henry Lovelace Facebook page.