1950s era competition photo of Gironda
|Born||Vincent Anselmo Gironda
November 9, 1917
Bronx, New York
|Died||October 18, 1997
Ventura County, California
|Occupation||Bodybuilder, personal trainer|
Vincent "Vince" Anselmo Gironda (November 9, 1917 – October 18, 1997) was an American professional bodybuilder, author and owner of the celebrity-frequented Vince's Gym. His nickname was the Iron Guru.
Early life and career
Vince Gironda 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.
Gironda is often quoted as saying that bodybuilding is 85% nutrition. 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) cream or milk. Large amounts of fertile eggs, he said, is equal to the anabolic steroid Dianabol in effectiveness. However, he was vehemently against the use of steroids for physique development, claiming that it contributed to a grotesque appearance. 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 overdevelopment of the gluteal muscles 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 not contribute to the development of abdominal muscles.
Gironda also counselled against using the regular bench press for chest training, which he considered an inferior exercise; in its place 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 Gironda, pecs should be a wide slab, not two discrete masses.
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.
1950 Mr. USA -4th
1951 AAU Mr. America -2nd
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 anyone else. 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, Robert McRay, Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong), Gordon Scott 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 considerable 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 very well-equipped gyms with considerable mass appeal and the emergence of numerous 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 the severe health problems of Gironda's beloved son Guy. Caring for Guy sapped Gironda's energy, and his motivation to run his gym.
Gironda died on October 18, 1997 in Ventura County, 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
- Randy Roach, "Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors" Vol,1 (2008) Vol,2 (2011)