Mike Leifer has just finished arm-wrestling 150 pounds of iron in an exercise called the triceps push-down. He is in the basement of an always-open Nautilus Aerobics Plus, one of those high-tech glitter palaces commonly referred to as the singles bars of the '80s. A stereo pipes in Elton John's "Act of War," serenading Leifer and the other body builders who are sweating bullets all over the chrome equipment.
Nautilus Aerobics Plus is on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. It is right across the street from Vince's Gym, but it might as well be on a different planet. While the Nautilus Aerobics Plus is to physical fitness what McDonald's is to fast food, Vince's Gym is a down-home, meat-and-potatoes operation. Somehow, it has managed to survive nearly 40 years without a juice bar. Vince Gironda, the owner, doesn't have a boutique like his competitor, but he does sell T-shirts, one of which says:
"Vince's Gym: no pool, no music, no chrome, just iron."