In the most recent video John Meadows posted on YouTube, the fitness guru and retired bodybuilder answered questions from his more than half million followers about how to turn pro in the sport, what the best recovery methods might be and how to evaluate diet plans.
No matter the successes Meadows achieved in the fitness arena – and those certainly were vast for the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Pro known worldwide as “Mountain Dog” – he never hesitated to help others in the sport.
The Pickerington resident’s personality and caring nature drew people to him, whether in person or behind the camera.
“Everyone has teachers that they remember and it’s always because they were kind hearted and rooting for you – that was John,” said Jeff Cavaliere, friend and fellow fitness YouTuber. “He was a coach – a coach for everyone, pulling for you and wanting you to succeed.
“He was always himself, speaking from the heart.”
Meadows, 49, died peacefully in his sleep at his home on Sunday.
The news sent the bodybuilding community locally and beyond reeling with the loss of such a beloved competitor, personality and mentor in the sport.
Go Fund Me campaign for John Meadows raises more than $250,000
Outlets, such as People magazine and the British online publication the Independent, wrote pieces about the Washington Court House, Ohio native’s death while a Go Fund Me campaign, set up by Cavaliere, amassed more than $260,000 in just four days.
Tribute messages on the donation website featured many people thanking Meadows for sharing his knowledge of health and fitness, with some even crediting him for saving their lives and helping them through divorces.
But as much as Meadows dedicated his life to bodybuilding – he even had a back-training exercise, Meadows Row, named after him – his family remained his sole motivation for everything.
“Being a father was the most important thing to him,” said family friend Brooke Nappo.
His followers and trainees had come to expect to hear everything about his wife of 19 years, Mary, and their 12-year-old twin sons Jonathan and Alexander.
During that most recent YouTube clip – his last as it was created and posted two days before his passing – Meadows talked about how excited he was to be coaching his sons’ junior high football team as well as a city youth league.
“So from about 3:15 to 8:20 I’m out in the sun with the kids,” he explained to viewers, beaming with pride.
In that respect, Meadows was simply a normal dad, a role he cherished, Nappo said.
“He was the kind of dad that after work – and he worked all day long with all his businesses – he’d stop and take a break to go outside and play basketball with the boys,” she said. “They don’t know he was this famous person.”
The Capital University alum not only competed at the top of his sport and amassed a very loyal following on social media for his training videos, but Meadows founded several successful businesses, including Granite Supplements and Mountain Dog Diet.
As Meadows’ brother-in-law, Tom Quitter was able to see the bodybuilder go from an up and comer to a sought-after coach and mentor.
“He had told me that players from the Philadelphia Eagles were reaching out to him and he’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan,” Quitter said. “It wasn’t just one but several and I started thinking he was really good at what he does.”
He frequently traveled to other countries offering his expertise and Quitter said Meadows not only wanted to help people get in shape but do it safely and in a healthy way.
But what Quitter will remember most about his brother-in-law, who loved Marvel comic books, coaching his boys and was steadfast in his faith as a Catholic, is how he made others feel.
“He was warm,” Quitter said. “He was warm but also so much more.”
Besides his wife and two sons, he is also survived by his sister Christina Dobbins and many other family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his mom Linda Dobbins, his beloved grandmother that raised him, Carolyn Meadows, and great-grandmother Dorothy Smith.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 600 Hill Road North in Pickerington. Interment will immediately follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Etna. Online condolences can be made at www.spencefuneralhome.com.