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

Vince's Gym in 2014

David Gironda, Sr reports that ALL of Vince Gironda's equipment, intact and oiled, two dozen or more of his pictures, his belts, front awning and other original items from the gym have been preserved by a confidential friend of Vince.

There is a deal in the works to make them available to view, and perhaps set up as a replica gym for special training, sometime in the future. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, posted are some photos to enjoy.

David writes; "What's amazing is that as old as the pieces are, none of them are obsolete. They may not be as easy to set up and work as modern equipment, but their effects are the same as they were for the notable people that used them. To think the beautiful patina on them is the result of the handling by all those who used them, they are like relics of the stars."

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Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda Gym in 2014

Vince Gironda - Call Him Iron Guru

Vince Gironda - Call Him Iron Guru

Vince Gironda: "You don't get to be a legend not looking in a mirror."

HOLLYWOOD - The Iron Guru eats steak and mustard greens for dinner every night. He has eaten steak and mustard greens for dinner every night for the last two years. They have done him no harm.

"This," he says, tapping his chest firmly, "is the body beatiful!"

Vince Gironda does not intend the matter as a subject for debate. It is intoned as a benediction. He glares out through the fierce eyes of a chicken hawk, turning slightly so one might see that, despite his advanced age, his is a the physique of a 20-year-old.

BODY BEAUTIFUL is what the feisty owner of Vince's Gym is all about, and he is its self-proclaimed perfect example.

"You don't get to be a legend," the Iron Guru likes to say, "not looking in a mirror" I got IQ, you know what I mean?"

Last month marked an anniversary of his durability. It was not only the 35th year of his gym, but also the commencement of what he likes to call his Third Comeback.

He numbers film and television stars by the dozen among his clientele, drying them out and-or tightening them up with a regimen or nutrition and exercise that can leave even a sober man gasping.

Gironda not only keeps up with them, he leads them, which is not bad for a man somewhere in his 60s. He will not say his exact age. "I did not go through the expense of dyeing my hair," he snaps, "to tell you how old I am."

He says it looking you right in the eye, not smiling (Vince does not smile often), playing the Iron Guru before shelves stacked with high-potency vitamins, fat emulsifiers, Norwegian kelp and Argentine liver pills, which is is pleased to sell at modest prices.

His 2,000-square-foot-gym is a dark and unimposing structure.

His body-building devices, most of which he designed, are made of wood and leather and dark metal. He has no need to emulate the gleaming spas and jazzy health palaces, Gironda says. "I myself am a flawless specimen of that I do."

He snaps into a muscular pose, arms out stretched, body taut. "Like a Greek god, eh?"

HIS THIRD COMEBACK should be proof enough of his supremecy, Vince declared.

In Comeback One (age 40), he emerged from a long period of public retirement to demonstrate his physique around the world.

In Comeback Two (aged 46), he scored seconf in the Mr. Universe contest over sontestants 25 years his junior.

Comeback Three will entail photographic posing. "Not that muscle-beach crap," he says. "Artistic stuff."

At 5 feet 6 inches, Gironda weighs 160 pounds and has a 49-inch chest and a 29-inch waist. He exercises furiously every day, eats only natural foods and hangs by his heels for 30 minutes at a crack.

"I'm an expert at building muscles for the masses," the Iron Guru proclaims. It's a cosmetic business." He wears a striped a collarless shirt, sweat pants, boots, a wide leather karate belt and beads made of seeds and wood chips.

"I'm not talking about turning people into steroid weathogs. I'm talking about beauty. More men want to look like Robert Redford than the Incredible Hulk."

"The big advantage of Vince's gym," says Robert (Baretta) Blake, "is Vince. There are gyms and weights and 10,000 instructors all over town, but nobody knows the human body like Vince."

Blake has been a member of the gym since 1966. He does not work out often. "It's mostly for the kids beginning new television series who go in fat and come out looking like Donald Duck. I drink beer and eat chili dogs. When I get too far out of whack, Vince puts me together again."

GIRONDA IS FROM a showbiz family. Bronx born, he has lived in Los Angeles since he was 8. He
likes to talk about the time he danced with Carmen Miranda in a long-forgotten movie or when he wore a turban and played bongo drums in "Night and Day."

He opened the gym in 1946 "because I was always phsical." His 500 clients include anyone who can afford to pay $300 a year, plus more for special sessions.

Erik Estrada works out there. And so, at one time or another, have Clint Eastwood, James Garner, George Hamilton and Cheech and Chong.

He treats everyone equally, the Iron Guru says. They are the same with their clothes off.

Body beauty is only 10 percent exercises, the Iron Guru declares. He is a nut on good nutrition. "God," moans, "the crap we eat! We are digging our graves with knives and forks. You don't get to look like me eating hamburgers at McDonald's."

Fish will not do it, Vince says, because the waters are polluted. Chickens are pumped full of drugs to make them look good.

Red meat is where it's at. That's why he eats steak - and mustard greens. Compatible foods. Never mix protein and carbohydrates. Detox with green beans. No doughnuts, french fries, kosher burritos or banana daiquris.

"Actually," he adds whimsically, "the ultimate nutrition is cannibalism." Vince does not explain. He is not asked to.

"I'm a Stone Age nutritionist,' the Iron Guru adds. "I eat simply. Nature is balanced. You don't find
mega-anything in nature."

Television's Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) is working out. He hears Gironda and looks up. "He put
me on my first sensible diet," Haggerty shouts. "Pizza and Diet Pepsi." He laughs uproariously.

"Actors," the Iron Guru says in mock disgust. "What a sorry lot." He points to a young man on an incline bench. "Except for him. He's a nice Jewish boy."

"Hi," the man says, "I'm a nice Jewish boy."

"I'm a nude model, " another deadpans, "and a male prostitute."

The Iron Guru almost smiles.

GIRONDA HAS SOBERED up and unflabbed a lot of actors. The 19-day drunks who have crawled to his doorstep. The blobs who have begged to be saved from King Fat.

"But mostly what I do is feed their egos," Vince says. "I spent so much time dping that with one actor he thought he was perfect. Never worked out again. Just stood in front of a mirror smiling and looking at himself."

For the last two years, the Iron Guru has allowed women to use the gym. He likes women (especially 30-year-olds) but he kept them out of the gym before because he did not like their dependent attitudes.

"But it's different now," he adds. "They've learned to be independent. I know more men that whimper with pain than I do women."

Gironda's wile of 20 years died in 1978 of a stroke. "I try not to be sad," he says softly. For a moment, the Guru is not made of iron. "I was in bad shape. I had to work hard. You have to fight that. You have to be strong."

He looks out over the gym. At the legend he has built. At vibes of body beautiful shimmering over the incline benches, reflecting off the body-length mirrors.

"You wanna know what I'm all about?" he asks suddenly. He strips to a pair of black bikini shorts and strikes a pose, muscles rippling in the dim light. "No wonder I'm a legend."

Someone whistles. The Iron Guru glares. The fierce-eyed chicken hawk is back." Go to hell!" he shouts.

Then the man who danced with Carmen Miranda stokes another pose. And winks. "It a a nice place,"
he says, No one argues.

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

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