I trained at Vince’s Gym and never got booted out, but Ron Kosloff told me he personally saw a guy get booted out, and earlier this year I met a guy who claimed that he trained there in the early ’80s and Vince booted him out.
I can only guess that it’s true that Vince did this from time to time. The real question is, though, why would Vince kick someone out of his gym? The answer, it seems, is quite simple – for acting stupid, or not listening to what others have to say.
Vince was extremely outspoken, but also extremely knowledgeable about training and nutrition. If you weren’t the type of person who would listen, or you didn’t train seriously, he didn’t have the time of day for you. And if you really got on his nerves, well, you were gone. Honestly, judging by what the guy who I was talking to earlier this year said in his conversations about Vince, as well as other things, I would have booted him out too.
Did Vince really yell at people in his gym?
I can say from personal experience the answer is yes. I remember the first time I did neck presses – I wasn’t doing them right. From across the gym Vince started barking orders – “Elbows out, head up! Geez, are you stupid and deaf?” It was, of course, nerve-racking and embarrassing and not necessarily the best way to learn the movements. He did, however, get your attention. And, eventually, we did learn the movements just as Vince wanted them. When we did them correctly the yelling turned to praise that also echoed through the gym just as loudly. Of course, that might have only lasted minutes, or seconds, if you didn’t get the next exercise right.
Was Vince ever nice?
I would say that Vince was often nice – it’s just that the personality he was born with highlighted the negatives rather than the positives. To give you an idea of how kind Vince was, I will relate from personal experience that shows what his true character was like.
When I was about 22 years of age I had a broken foot (from a freak gym accident) and a couple of weeks of vacation. A friend and I hopped into a car and drove 2.5 days to get to one place: Vince’s Gym. When we got to Ventura Blvd., we quickly parked the car and my friend ran while I hopped on my crutches to get to the Vince’s Gym front door. I arrived first, and when I swung the door open Vince was standing in the doorway. He said, “What do you want?”
Honestly, I didn’t know what to say, so I told him that “We just wanted to look around.” He sort of sneered and stepped to the side. After 10 or so minutes of hanging around a girl in the gym came over to start talking to us. I could see Vince in the distance and he was getting quite agitated – he had had enough, particularly when this girl was asking us questions. He hurried over to us and said, “What is it you want?” I figured I better ‘fess up.
I said, “Vince, we’ve read all about you and we’re from Canada. We just drove two-and-a-half days to be here to train with you.”
Vince’s eyes lit up and he stepped back. Then he said, “Come in, come in.”
Vince, we learned, liked to tell his own version of stories, and he immediately turned to face the equipment area in the the gym to declare to everyone that “These two young guys just arrived from Canada. They rode in the back of a pickup truck just to see me!”
Vince then went behind his counter and sat down, inviting us to listen at the front of the counter. What transpired for the next two-or-so hours was Vince talking about training, nutrition, Joe Weider, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and you name it. It was a personal Vince seminar – the world of bodybuilding as he knew it – and at the end he said, “you should have had a tape recorder.” He was right.
Then he also said, “so you’re here to train?”
We nodded our heads.
He then told us that “his training fee is usually about $400.”
Our heads went down. “But you two don’t look like you have much money, do you?” Vince wisely guessed.
Our heads shook from side to side.
“Hmm,” went Vince. “Well, show up here tomorrow at 7:30 am and pay the $10 daily fee. I’ll train you for that.”
The next four days were filled with yelling, praising, and more learning than I ever learned in 10 years after. You don’t find a much nicer guy than that.