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

Joe DiMarco On Vince Gironda

Joe and I talked about Vince Gironda, who had a column in the Muscle Builder magazine during the same era as the Bill West and Joe DiMarco articles. Joe never met Vince, but said he did actually meet his son, Guy, and actually trained with him a bit.

Joe thought it ironic that he actually got Guy to do squats, which was a pet peeve of his dad's, who advised very strongly against them. Guy was pretty strong on the squat, in fact, starting with around 400 pounds in the lift.

Joe also said that Vince was against neck training for the bodybuilder, saying that an overly developed neck makes the shoulders appear less wide, but Joe was amused by the fact that Guy had a pretty well developed neck himself.

Joe said Vince was very particular about the way people at his gym trained, and that he actually would run guys out of his gym  with a baseball bat if they used what Vince regarded as unsound methods, or otherwise got out of line in any way.

Squatting was one of the taboos, and in fact there were no squat stands at Vince's Gym.

One of the men that was a victom of such treatment was actually Robert Blake, the bord loving detective we all remember well, told Joe.

Word has it that Clinkt Eastwood got a similar treatment from Vince.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

Bob Kennedy in a phone conversation mentioned Clint Eastwood.

He told me Clint and Vince had a disagreement and Vince threw him out of the gym.

Clint waited outside a few times wanting to catch Vince asking to get back in.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

Denny Miller

Denny Miller

A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Denny Miller had a weight room in his garage that bore the sign "Miller’s Body Shop", which helped him maintain the strapping physique that led to his showbiz breakthrough in a 1959 "Tarzan, the Ape Man" remake.

Working as a mover during summer vacation, the muscular Miller caught the eye of a talent agent and wound up playing Tarzan, billed as "MGM’s sensational new young star!"

Miller only played the Lord of the Jungle once. (The studio had rights to three Tarzan movies, "but the one I did was so bad they didn’t do the other two," Miller joked in a 2007 Review-Journal interview.)

Yet he remained Tarzan for the rest of his life, as a card-carrying member of what he jokingly called the PTA: the Past Tarzans Association.

Miller was a regular at festivals celebrating his past roles - including, but not restricted to, Tarzan.

Fans of TV Westerns could meet and greet the strapping 6-foot-3 Duke Shannon, the role Miller played on TV’s "Wagon Train."

During his almost 50-year acting career, Denny Miller appeared on the big screen with such stars as Sidney Poitier, Peter Sellers and Charles Bronson.

He also guest starred on dozens of TV series, from "Gilligan's Island" (where he spoofed his Tarzan past as Tongo the Ape Man) to "Gunsmoke", "The Rockford Files" and "Vega$".

I met Denny a few years back at a western festival and corresponded with him a little after. Super nice guy. When I asked him about Vince Gironda he told me Vince had given him a set of keys to the gym to work out after hours. He was very positive when it came to talking about fitness.

Denny liked to sign "Stay healthy" on letters and autographs.

Tommy Chong on Vince Gironda

Tommy Chong on Vince Gironda

I started weightlifting when I was 16 at the Calgary Y. Then I ended up in Vancouver when I was 19, and that was when I started weight training under proper supervision. I've kept it up ever since, although my approach has changed over the years.

One of the reasons I came to Los Angeles in 1968 was so I could live on the beach and train at Gold's Gym in Venice. I was there when Arnold Schwarzenegger came.

Gold's was where I got in pretty decent shape. I trained with a famous bodybuilder named Vince Gironda who got me in shape for "Up in Smoke." He was really ahead of his time with his training regimen and his diet.

"Gathering of Greats" The 1991 "Golden Years of Bodybuilding" Event

Golden Years of Bodybuilding

Back row, left to right: Bob Delmonteque, John Isaacs, Glenn Sundby, George Redpath, Les Stockton, Pudgy Stockton (the only woman to be included in this historic picture), Red Lerille, Vince Gironda, Steve Reeves, Russ Warner, Leo Stern, Bill Pearl, Dennis Tinerino, Jimmy Payne, Leroy Colbert, Larry Scott, Chuck Krauser, Al Berger, Pat Casey, Don Peters, Babe Stansbury, George Coates, Bill Cantrell.

Front row, left to right: Joe Loprinzi, Sam Loprinzi, Orville Wertzbaugher, Johnny Gibson, Joe Abbenda, Ed Jubinville, George Eiferman, Joe Weider, Harry Smith, Walt Marcyan, Armand Tanny, Mits Kawashima, John Grimek, Jack LaLanne, and Don Arnold.

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