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Fitness trainer Dave Jacob, left, shows a high-stepping exercise to NBA guard Mike Wilks. The two met while playing basketball in a  pickup game in Decatur. Now, Jacob works with Wilks to help him with endurance and quickness. Wilks played for the Seattle SuperSonics this past season.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Fitness trainer Dave Jacob, left, shows a high-stepping exercise to NBA guard Mike Wilks. The two met while playing basketball in a pickup game in Decatur. Now, Jacob works with Wilks to help him with endurance and quickness. Wilks played for the Seattle SuperSonics this past season.

Banding together
Decatur trainer stretches muscles, horizon for NBA player

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

In the gym, or on the basketball court, Body First gym owner Dave Jacob is a bundle of energy.

But in both locales, Jacob has somewhat of a split personality with his newest client, NBA guard Mike Wilks. Wilks is the husband of former East Lawrence High basketball star Kim Young.

At the gym, Jacob shouts words of encouragement toward Wilks, who played this past season with the Seattle SuperSonics. But on the court, it is all smack talk.

Earlier this year, the two were playing in a pickup basketball game at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Decatur. They were on separate teams.

And after Jacob hit a couple of 3-point baskets, he turned to Wilks, who spends some time in the Decatur area with his wife and her family, and said, “Yeah, Mister NBA! Yeah!”

Wilks just laughed, since he wasn’t defending Jacob.

“That’s just Dave,” Wilks said. “He is a very confident guy, and he likes to have fun. That is how I met Dave.”

A Slidell, La., native, Jacob has been working as an athletic trainer in the Decatur area since the early 1990s. He said he visited the area and decided to stay. He said he uses an elastic band in many of his workouts to build endurance and quickness.

During the past three years, he has trained Calhoun first baseman Jesse Perrin, Wallace State softball player Caitlin Williams, and Samford basketball signee Josh Bedwell.

Decatur trainer Dave Jacob uses an elastic band method when working with clients.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Decatur trainer Dave Jacob uses an elastic band method when working with clients.
But when the opportunity came to train Wilks, three weeks ago — after that pickup game Jacob asked Wilks if he wanted to work with him — Jacob admitted being a bit nervous.

“I was nervous that he would think I was whack,” Jacob said. “I was afraid that he would think that this stuff is too simple.”

For five days per week the past three weeks, Jacob has been training Wilks for 90 minutes per session.

He uses his trademark band method to try to increase strength and explosiveness in Wilks’ lower body.

Some examples of a workout that Jacob puts Wilks through is Wilks lifting his leg while it is attached to a band, which is latched onto a stagnant object.

Wilks also does some running with a vest attached to an elastic band. According to Jacob,
they do a few days with the bands and a few days with weights.

But the core of his exercise philosophy rests in the stretchy rubber objects.

“I just wanted something that could move with the athlete. I wanted something that could work when they work,” Jacob said.

“When an athlete is at his max, his muscle is being stretched to its full capacity, and the rubber band is there with him. The weights, you can’t take with you.”

When he was in ninth grade he and his family moved from Slidell to Tucson, Ariz. After graduating from high school he attended Pima Community College in Tucson where he ran some track and first got the training bug.

While Wilks and Jacob both admit that three weeks is too little time to see any marked physical improvement, Wilks, who also has played with the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers during parts of five NBA seasons, says that working out with Jacob goes further than increasing his vertical leap or speed down the court.

Jacob and Wilks talk about religion during their sessions. Jacob offers Wilks words of wisdom and the quiet Wilks listens and flashes a smile.

“He is someone who I feel like is going higher not just as a trainer but in life,” says Wilks, who is an NBA free agent. “And that is what I like being around. He helps me with things on the court and in the gym, but also in life too.”

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