Vince Gironda in 1982

Vince Gym

I was in the Valley on two occasions, once in 1982 and again in 1989.

The 1982 experience held more memories for me as I was younger.

As you entered the gym Vince was seated to the right behind a huge wooden desk the likes of which I have never seen before. Almost something that would have been constructed by Leonardo DaVinci – ironically he and Vince not being so far removed in character, spirit, and iconoclasm.

Vince himself was a very piercing figure of a man with eyes that looked right through you, the look of someones who’s confidence and belief system was unshakable – a rare look really.

Behind him were his many manuals and books that he had written over the years, mostly all soft covered. The place had a look and feel of the mid sixties – a golden era of bodybuilding frozen in time, and likely by no accident. It was also very quiet, with no music ever playing.

Tank tops hung on the wall behind the desk that explained this; something along the lines of “no frills, no music, just sweat” – I can’t remember exactly.

The machines were all of a dark wood and dark metal. Many machines were never seen before; 32 inch V-bars for dips, a moon box, an incline bench with a hole in it for the face to sink into, and of course the famous “Scott bench” that had more padding than I had ever seen before or since.

A doctor was always in there in the morning and he and Vince seemed to be very good friends. I saw a picture of the doctor outside of the gym on the Iron guru site.

Vince was obviously friends with both the famous and the not so famous. At one point I paid for personal training with Vince and he demonstrated the Sissy Squat to me with a little apparatus on the floor that help you from falling over. This was clearly Vince’s signature exercise and he abhored the squatters build.

He also loved the vertical dumbell grip bench press for chest.

His machines, many hand made, were designed to reshape the body in more aesthetically pleasing ways. He had said that if all the standard exercises were working, then how come so few people were still not well built.

Passing into the locker room, the Larry Scott sign was still hanging above the door and somehow this connected me to the bygone era. The locker room itself was fairly small and was built right into the mountain. The door was often cracked open in the back and a tremendous smell of eucalyptus permeated the whole room.

This smell is one of my most lasting memories of the gym.

– Jim Samar

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