Written by Ron Kosloff.
This article was originally written in 1971.
I would like first of all to thank Ray Raridon, Roger Torrey, Larry Scott, Rich Giofu, Dan Mackey and Bob Green, plus other gym members whose names I have forgotten, for answering questions I asked about Vince. I'm sure that except for Ray Raridon, most of them don't remember me. This article's title states, "My Reflections," so I'm positive Vince will be tolerant of what I say.
To be very truthful, I do not know Vince Gironda intimately. I have been to Los Angeles four times and have spoken to him briefly on each occasion, but it has been said, "You need not know a man to respect him", and I do indeed.
After two years of frustrating and fruitless bodybuilding, I traveled to California needing and searching for help. I was, in fact, contemplating quitting the sport, for my progress was nonexistent. I visited an array of gyms and encountered most of the theories that I'd used beforehand, which hadn't proved valid.
I was discussing the subject with one famous gym owner and a friend of his remarked about a "nut" in N. Hollywood who did funny exercises and practiced funnier nutrition. (I understand lately that this gym owner is now attempting to utilize Vince's courses). Naturally, I was intrigued. I called Vince and made an appointment for the following day.
Upon entering his gym, which is very simple indeed, I noticed two Hollywood stars working out. It occurred to me that these people could easily have been in some plush, chrome-plated and carpeted gym. The so-called "nut" hadn't arrived yet, so I scanned his facilities and observed a multitude of strange-looking workout equipment.
Now, years later, most of it has been copied by almost every gym and equipment company in the country. When he arrived at his gym, I must admit he frightened me because he went directly to a student and scolded him for doing an exercise incorrectly. I hesitated, but introduced myself and asked if he could help me with my problem.
Vince Gironda: The So-Called Nut.
In the next hour he completely blasted every myth about bodybuilding I had embraced. I was stunned and shocked, but everything this man said made sense.
Then, for 18 days, I learned exactly what bodybuilding was all about.
Not only did I enjoy working out in a completely different manner, but I also spent time observing this unique man. I sensed that Vince sees a student as a son, and desires him to be a serious trainer without making the mistakes he made as a young man. To me, this is a form of love. He is very intolerant of people who are not serious trainers and waste his time.
I also observed he is very moody, sometimes being extremely abrupt and short with people, but later they discovered the reasons. Once, in fact, he was very abrupt with me, but if you choose to accept the man, you must accept his faults.
Bodybuilding has been his life for about 35 years, and he has seemingly not as yet lost his enthusiasm for the sport. You'll notice that he is now writing for a number of national magazines. I discovered that after a short time my admiration and respect for him grew immensely, yet, oddly enough, I was still nervous in his presence. Gym members commented that he was difficult to know and understand.
It is obvious that with all his knowledge, Vince could easily be a wealthy man. I am glad that he isn't because we don't need another "TRAINER OF CHAMPIONS." His home is a modest one.
His means of transportation is a truck. In fact, upon first seeing him, his manner of dress would give you the impression that he is a hippy.
He has definitely chosen to be very truthful and unalterable in his views. In every sense of the word, he is a true individual. Although he sometimes appears somewhat stern, I feel he is a very sensitive person. He has repeatedly been accused of rocking the boat because he is extremely outspoken.
Because of this, he is often misquoted. Recently he has been criticized for making the so-called statement, "running is disastrous."
This was taken strictly out of context, for what he really said was, "to gain size and shape, the person who is bodybuilding should abstain from running because it will deplete hormone balance, expend energy, and the body will enter a state of tonic (loss of muscle tissue)."
A True Individual
His critics, who are many, said they never heard of the word tonic, so therefore it must not exist. An analogy would be that in the 17th century people never heard of electricity, but that didn't mean it didn't exist. Anyway, how many champions have these critics built? Very few, I would say.
Vince himself is a complete athlete: a runner, bodybuilder, and tosser of the caber. He is now about 60 years old, and I would like to see his critics challenge him to a 100-yard dash or meet him on the posing dais to compare physiques. At 60 he still looks absolutely fantastic.
A Revolutionary Thinker
This man is an innovator and the things he does today will be the rule tomorrow, make no mistake of that fact. I only wish he would defend himself a little more, but then this is his business. To me, he is a man's MAN.
Over a period of years, Vince has conducted many experiments pertaining to nutrition and bodybuilding on himself. Most tests have been conducive and successful, but some have failed and made him ill. All of the information he gives in his courses has very positive basis and facts.
If you read his manuals very carefully and objectively, you will observe that he is so far ahead of everyone else, that it's almost hilarious. They are so scientific that he explains even how to hold the barbell, and the number of supplements to take.
His courses are in reality ridiculously inexpensive and should cost 20 times as much for the information they contain. I personally own every course and I am still amazed by them.
I remember years ago when Vince would write an article in a magazine, the editor would always footnote,
"Although we don't agree with Mr. Gironda's philosophies, we include them as a matter of objective thinking."
Lately, if you'll notice, the articles in Iron Man that "physique men" write are slowly but surely adopting Vince's methods. Also, at a recent contest in Detroit, a current "Mr. Everything" spoke to the audience before posing. His words, to my amazement and delight, were almost the very words of Vince Gironda.
Through the years, many so-called authorities scoffed at and ridiculed his methods. Now they are proving to be the most effective and valid of them all! Fifteen years ago Vince told my friend, Ray Raridon, that most all bodybuilders overworked. He repeated the same statement to me!
His Other Revolutionary Statements Were:
- Bodybuilding is 85-90% nutrition
- Most men work out incorrectly because it is too difficult working correctly
- Isolate each muscle completely
- Bodybuilders use too much protein
- Work out fast and brief for best gains
- Kelp tablets increase definition
- Regular squats are ridiculous and do not build thighs properly
- Sit-ups and leg raises do not reduce your abdominals
- Continued stomach work retards progress
- Change routines every fourth workout to stimulate growth
He completely blasted the theory that low reps give you bulk and high reps give you definition. IT'S ALL NUTRITION! There is much, much more, and I could go on but I'd utilize this complete magazine.
Other than moulding a naturally equipped person into a champion, Vince specializes in building the type of person, like myself, who is not a natural but a difficult gainer. Vince himself was not at all a natural. He was forced to become a student of the game. As I said before, I owe everything I've gained to Vince and his methods.
I'll always recall a fellow who I worked out with at the YMCA named Naman Travis. He would exercise and eat in any manner he desired and still gained size and definition. I used to jokingly tell him how much I hated him. This type of person is extremely rare. Most of us struggle with little or no success.
It's been my personal observation that for every champion there are a thousand men who don't even gain ten pounds. Generally, a natural at anything seldom becomes a good teacher. I personally believe that Vince could build anyone.
Take Larry Scott for instance. A keen eye will notice that Larry had a poor basic body structure to begin with. He was short, had a wide waist, and shoulders that were extremely narrow, but he created a fantastic illusion.
Larry Scott: A Fantastic Illusion?
Larry followed everything Vince planned for him, and I think Vince actually pushed him to greatness. Who do you think taught him to pose? After seeing Larry in two contests in New York, I began to realize the genius of Gironda. I have always had the feeling that Larry was the champion that Vince was most proud of.
Remember, Vince never won a major contest himself, only second and third places, because his defined physique was not in vogue at the time. I feel this still hurts him very much to this day. He often makes reference to a promising gym member as "my protege."
The Drug Culture
In a recent conversation, Vince expressed his sorrow and disappointment that bodybuilding is becoming a horrendous drug culture. He hates drugs and the gorilla type of physique that they create, and he can teach you how to almost duplicate the growth of drugs with supplements.
He stresses shape and symmetry, for this is the type of physique that lasts a lifetime. If you see Vince or Frank Zane, for example, in street clothes, your first impression is that obviously they are larger than average, but not ponderous. Of course, on a posing dais you are stunned by their physiques.
Hopes & Fears For The Future
We all know that drug usage exists, but no one will discuss it or condemn it at length in print. I would personally like to see two contests, one for the drug users and one for the non-drug users, but this is wishful thinking. In one gym that I visited in Venice, drugs were discussed openly.
I believe that bodybuilding and nutrition are in their infancy, and that some day we will see national prominence for our sport, without drugs. Although I am certainly no prognosticator, I will now predict that when future meaningful progress is made in bodybuilding and nutrition, we will follow the path paved by Vince Gironda, and that your grandchildren will practice his teachings when he has passed.
I also think that inevitably drugs will destroy bodybuilding. To me, Vince should be a legend in his own time and some day he will surely receive the credit due him. Although he certainly doesn't have all of the answers, it seems as if he is working on them. He is truly the MASTER.
Undoubtedly, many people will insist I'm receiving something for this article, or that because I distribute the supplements that Vince uses and recommends in his gym, that I'm doing it for commercial reasons. The answer is simply "no," for I have written exactly what I feel and sincerely believe in this man.
I would like to thank Perry Rader for including this article in Iron Man, which, in case you hadn't noticed, is the finest and most objective magazine available today.