Heart of The Gulf: Beloved personal trainer, nutritionist dies of heart attack, leaves behind powerful message

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Arranging mementos for her brother’s memorial service is not something Vicki Gray ever imagined she would find herself doing.

“We’d always try to one up each other, but Mike was my best friend,” Gray said. A professional body builder, a personal trainer and a certified nutritionist, Mike Horn is remembered as a mighty man, not just in stature.

“He had a heart of gold. He wanted to take care of sick people and when I say take care of sick people. It was the sick, the weak, the hurting,” Gray said.

Horn, owner of Mike Horn Personal Training in Mobile had the unique gift of motivating and lifting people when they were at their lowest. In 2018, he helped Mobile City Councilwoman Gina Gregory muscle through her cancer battle.

Horn also worked on a regular basis with patients struggling with multiple sclerosis and other conditions. His friend, Cliff Moore, said Horn regularly pushed clients and friends to succeed while highlighting the successes of people who were less fortunate. He would ask, “What’s your excuse”, Moore said.

It was in his gym on Three Notch Road where he spent so many hours helping to improve the lives others that his own would take a tragic turn.

“I told him, You’re sweating. I said, ‘That’s not like you,'” Moore said. After a workout on March 26, Horn sat down and collapsed. “I rolled him over, and he had turned purple,” said Moore, who gave him gave him C.P.R. until the ambulance arrived. “Wanting him to come up you know, gasping for air and saying what are you doing? Anything, I didn’t care. I just wanted him alive and up.”

Days leading up the heart attack, Horn mentioned having pain in his chest and arm, but he dismissed it as a pulled muscle. There were other signs, too. “He also had chills and fever but since it was Covid, he stayed home thinking that he could have been sick, but all of these were symptoms that was leading up to that big heart attack,” Gray said.

Horn died 13 days later in the hospital from a heart attack at 55 years old. A painful loss that his family and friends hope others will take to heart.

“If a symptom comes up that’s out of the ordinary — just like his chest was hurting, his arm was hurting — those are signs, but even if you’re doing strenuous work, don’t ignore that. It could be a different sign. Just go and have it checked out,” Gray said.

His sister says heart disease runs in their family. She thinks stress also led to the heart attack, as he never fully recovered from losing his wife, Jan, who died more than two years ago.

The couple leaves behind a teenage son, Steel. Even though Horn often refused money from people he helped, he didn’t have life insurance nor medical insurance. If you would like to help this family, click here.

For more on heart attack symptoms from The American Heart Association, click here.

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