The History of Vince's Gym & The Stars He Trained

Dorothy Duder at Vince's Gym

Dorothy Duder at Vince's Gym

Dorth strikes a pose at the Legendary Vince "The Iron Guru" Gironda's Gym, in Studio City - 1995.

Ken Babich

Ken Babich

Ken Babich has been involved in the sport of bodybuilding since the late 1960s - either as a competitor in the professional organization, the National Physique Committee (NPC), as a trainer or both.

Babich himself received personal training in the early 1980s under one of the sports pioneers - the late Vince Gironda, who competed as a bodybuilder in the sports early days on Muscle Beach in Venice, California in the 1930s and 1940s.

Gironda was also a personal trainer to celebrities like Clint Eastwood, James Garner and Brian Keith.

Baretta Beats Backache By Being Bat-Man with Vince Gironda

Baretta Beats Backache By Being Bat-Man with Vince Gironda

Robert Blake, who earned an Emmy this year (1975) for his portrayal of detective Tony Baretta in ABC's Baretta series, comes by his stalwart physique honestly.

Some years ago, seeking to alleviate chronic backaches, he began a regimen of exercises, including weight lifting, at a gym near his home.

In the frenetic entertainment industry, just keeping up with the pace can be a problem. Actors and actresses take up yoga, meditation, bicycling, diets of all sorts - take up anything that will keep them in shape and just keep them moving.

Robert Blake, Emmy-winning star of the ABC Television Network's Baretta series, finds that hanging upside down helps him.

Several years ago Blake wanted exercises to curb his backaches. He went to Vince Gironda, who has owned Vince's Gym on Ventura Boulevard near Blake's Studio City, California, home for 29 years.

Vince, to whom patients needing exercises closely tied in with physiotherapy are often referred, gave Blake a personalized program, watched the effects closely, and altered the routine where needed so that the backaches became almost non-existent.

As a side effect, Blake developed a chest and arms which lady fan letter writers are fond of mentioning. He has worked up to bench pressing more than 200 pounds of weights and doing some of the exercises hanging upside down from a bar.

The actor finds the exercises done upside down have a two fold benefit - increasing the flow of blood to the head and changing circulation as well as almost doubling the effects of the exercises on the muscles.

"They also keep me less tense, less irritable, and able to sleep, work and operate better," he comments.

In the fall, Blake's Baretta will move to a new 9 to 10 p.m. time slot on Wednesdays.

Robert Blake & Vince Gironda

Robert Blake & Vince Gironda

Robert Blake and Vince Gironda

Robert Blake on Vince Gironda

About my dear, sweet, longtime friend, Vince Gironda. All over the internet, people are talking about the Iron Guru, the tough guy, the butch disciplinarian. But like most cases, the people who do all the talking about somebody are the people who never even met that somebody.

Vince was my trainer, my friend, my confidante, my supporter, for the 30 years that I worked out at his gym. The real Vince was a gentle, graceful, artist. When we got to know each other real well, I'd go to the gym late at night and he'd pull out his scrapbooks and oddly enough, those scrapbooks showed that he and I started out in the same place, MGM. He showed me pictures of him being an extra in dance movies. He didn't want to be a dancer, he was a born dancer. And his butch father made such horrible fun of him, calling him a sissy and a pansy, that Vince put that side of himself aside and started doing stunts in the cowboy movies, on the Tarzan set, etc.

So if the truth be known, my gentle friend became the Iron Guru as a second choice for his life's work.He was always proud of me because in his heart I was fulfilling his dreams of being in show business. If you want to read the rest of my story, either go to my website, punch up Pictures and Stories of People I Love and find Vince or grab a copy of my book, Tales of a Rascal (there are some used ones out there), or snag a new one on Amazon.

I hope I didn't break your heart or burst your bubble, but I truly owe it to my dear, good friend to let the world know who and what he really was.

Vince Gironda Dip Machine

Vince Gironda Dip Machine

Vince Gironda demonstrating the dip machine to Larry Scott.

Vince had a dip machine in his gym in the early 1980's. It was like a hack slide but you used a seat belt to hold yourself on. You could plate load it and it had 3 positions for hands.

I asked him if I might be able to just hang around the gym and check things out for a bit.

His reply was "Sure if you'd like, just don't feed the animals".

A big animal I did see - big Louie on a dip machine!

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