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

Vince Gironda, Ray Raridon and NSP

Vince Gironda, Ray Raridon and NSP

Steve Downs began managing Vince Gironda's gym in 1970, and then also took a job with SIGNET and moved to Minneapolis where he distributed products to the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota, and for a while, in the Chicago area.

Another trainer working for Vince, Ray Raridon, began distributing for SIGNET around the same time as John Balik in 1970. Raridon worked some of the more western states, and began labeling the SIGNET line with his new company name, Natural Source Products (NSP).

Most were not aware that Ray and Vince in the early stages of NSP had somewhat of a silent partnership. Acording to Ron Kosloff, Gironda's business track record wasn't the best, more so because Vince had no use for contracts, lawyers, and just about any other legality associated with running a business. Although Ron says there was nothing signed between the two, Vince was active to a certain degree in what Raridon was doing.

Gironda put about as much though into his marketing strategy as he did for the rest of his business affairs. The only reason Kosloff found out about NSP was when Ron phoned Vince from his home in Detroit around mid-1974 to ask Vince's advice as to what supplement line he recommended.

Ron was seriously considering getting into the distribution and retail of that aspect of the industry. He was totally suprised when Vince replied, "How about mine?"

Even though Ron had become friends with Gironda years earlier, he had no idea that NSP even existed, let alone Vince being involved in any way. Ron couldn't have asked for a better opportunity and by late 1974, he had received his first shipment of NSP products as an eastern distributor.

This was a significant move in terms of growth for the small company as Kosloff would pan out very well in that frontier.

Frank Zane Training at Vince's Gym

Frank Zane Training at Vince's Gym

In the summer of 1975, I was presented with an opportunity to train at Vince's Gym for a few months.

Gold's Gym had become a madhouse with the filming of "Pumping Iron". "We are making a documentary film about bodybuilding," photographer George Butler told me. "I don’t think so. Why don't you just call it 'Pumping Arnold'? It's obvious the film is all about him," I retorted to the biased shutterbug.

I wanted no part of it so I drove 20 miles each way, every day to Studio City to train at Vince's Gym.

Vince Gironda welcomed me. The gym had unique equipment, great equipment – the best dumbbells.

However, it lacked serious leg machines. "No wonder none of the guys who came out of here had no great leg development," I thought to myself.

Vince didn't believe in barbell squats – only hacks, leg extensions and leg curls (he would have loved the Leg Blaster).

I got along great with Vince because I agreed with him most of the time. One day I told him a parable that said in effect, "Only he who drinks tea truly knows its taste."

He really liked me after that. And I liked him.

Pete Caputo

Pete Caputo

Pete Caputo under the Vince Gironda Gym skylight.

Pete Caputo

Pete Caputo

A "before" photo of Pete Caputo.

Pete Caputo

Don Peters in 1983

Don Peters in 1983

Don Peters at an advanced age in 1983 sent in by Steve Speyrer.

Below is a photo of Don in his heyday.

Don Peters Bodybuilder

Chris Dickerson at Vince's Gym

Chris Dickerson training at Vince Gironda Gym

Chris Dickerson training at Vince Gironda's Gym.

Thanks to Steve Speyrer.

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