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Old 10-06-2011, 10:54 PM   #7
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Vince Gironda was an American professional bodybuilder, author and owner of the celebrity-famous Vince's Gym. His nickname was the Iron Guru.

Early life and career

Vince Gironda (November 9, 1917 - October 18,1997) was born on November 9, 1917 in Bronx, NY. While Vince was still a young child, the family moved out west to Los Angeles when his father, a stuntman, got offered work in the upcoming Ben Hur film. Vince tried his hand at being a stuntman as well but when he saw a photograph of John Grimek, he realized he needed more physical development and began lifting weights at the age of 22.

The first gym he trained at was the local YMCA. He was there for approximately eight months before moving to the Easton brothers' gym. The Easton brothers taught him to be one of their instructors. He worked there and experimented with training protocols before opening his own gym in North Hollywood, California in 1948.

Training philosophy

Gironda is often quoted as saying that bodybuilding is 85% nutrition. In fact, he was what some may call a health food nut. He was also an early proponent of low carb dieting, and recommended the use of numerous supplements, including desiccated liver tablets, kelp, digestive enzymes and glandulars such as adrenal and orchic. In certain circumstances Gironda would recommend up to 3 dozen fertile hen-eggs a day, along with raw (unhomogenized, unpasteurized) milk. Large amounts of fertile eggs, he said, is equal to the anabolic steroid Dianabol in effectiveness. He almost never provided supporting scientific evidence for his theories.

He had what many consider "unorthodox" training ideas. For example, unlike many other physique trainers, he did not prescribe regular back squats for most male trainees (his gym had no squat racks), stating that they caused the over-development of the glutes and hips relative to the thighs. The exception would be female trainees and rare men who actually needed more glute and hip development. Typically, Gironda prescribed sissy squats, hack lifts, front squats and a special style of squat which he called the "thigh squat" for thigh development. In addition, he was one of the first few in the bodybuilding scene to comment that sit-ups do nothing to the formation of abs.

He also admonished against using the regular bench press for chest training, thus, for Vince, the bench press was an inferior exercise - he favored the "neck press" in which the bar is lowered, with a wide grip, to the neck instead of the chest. He considered his Gironda dips (on the "V-bar") the best overall pectorali developer (the dip could be considered equivalent to the decline bench-press). For Vince, pecs should be a wide slab, and not some kind of woman breast look.

When the 1960s rolled around, Vince's reputation grew as a personal trainer due to his pupils winning all the important contests, the most well known being Larry Scott winning the first IFBB Mr. Olympia in 1965. Bodybuilders who have trained at Vince's Gym over the years include "Body by" Jake Steinfeld, Lou Ferrigno ("The Incredible Hulk"), Frank Zane, Don Howorth and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gironda came to be known as the Iron Guru, a name former magazine editor and photo/journalist Denie Walter gave him.

Trainer to the stars

By the early 1950s he was a very well known trainer of both champion bodybuilders and movie and television actors. Gironda claimed to be able to get a person into shape faster than anybody. He also claimed that the movie studios would send their actors and actresses to him for that reason.

A short list of stars who trained at Vince's Gym includes Robert Blake, Cher, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, James Garner, Brian Keith, Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong) and Erik Estrada.

In the 1970s Vince wrote countless articles for Iron Man, managed his mail-order business, started a nutrition supplement company and authored his own training and nutrition manuals, all the time still operating his Gym.

In the 1980s, a book was published with the collaboration of MuscleMag International publisher Robert Kennedy titled "Unleashing the Wild Physique". It contained tons of knowledge Vince gathered and tested throughout his 30+ year career. The release of the book prompted a promotion tour where the Iron Guru gave sold out seminars throughout the US and Canada.

Downfall of Vince's Gym

In the 1990s the growing popularity of state of the art gyms appealing to the masses and more personal trainers to the stars made it difficult for simple gyms to operate and so Vince's Gym closed in November 1995. A contributing factor to the gym closing was Vince's beloved son Guy who had severe health problems. This took the wind out of Vince and had no motivation to run his gym.


Gironda died on October 18, 1997, less than a month before his 80th birthday.


* Robert Kennedy and Vince Gironda, Unleashing the Wild Physique, 1984, Sterling Pub. Co, ISBN 0-8069-7888-0
* Alan Palmieri, Vince Gironda Legend And Myth, CD-ROM, 2004
* Daryl Conant, "InVINCEable, 2009

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