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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
Arthur Jones believes, "has all but
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must be done . . . and quickly."
The New Bodybuilding for
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MUCH of that "something."

 

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Darden Interview, Part 1
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Drew Baye

Ellington Darden’s Straight Talk
About The New High-Intensity Training Part 1


When I found out Ellington Darden had a new bodybuilding book in the works, I was excited. It had been a while since he had dis-cussed hardcore training, and other than the late Mike Mentzer’s writings in 2001, no advanced HIT book had been published in the last decade.

Not only was Dr. Darden kind enough to do an interview, he also lent me the galley proofs of the book’s layout, which I’ve leafed through and read several times. Over the following week, I modified my own workouts, and I’ve already noticed improvements in my muscular size. I’m now very motivated to train hard again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little.

I visited Dr. Darden on July 24, 2004, at his home office in Windermere, Florida. He talked easily about his friendship with Arthur Jones and how Jones had encouraged him in 1973 to write fitness books. "I don’t believe Arthur really thought I’d take him seriously," Ellington smiled, as he pointed to three shelves that contained the 45 books he’s had published over the last 30 years.

"I met with Arthur just last week," Ellington continued, "and he wanted to know how my new HIT project was progressing? I told him that it was almost completed and that I’d get him a copy in early September, and he replied: ‘You better hurry . . . I’m not going to be around much longer.’

"Arthur occupies a special place in this book. Last November, he reviewed the manuscript and had some meaningful suggestions. But he’s been in poor health for several years, and at almost 80 years of age, his body is showing the wear and tear of his cumulative world travels, macho adventures, and many battles. I hope he can live productively for another year, but that may not be realistic."

HIT certainly won’t be the same without Arthur Jones, I thought to myself as Ellington talked passionately about Jones. Even though I’ve read a lot of Jones’s material, I’ve never met him face to face. But I felt like I knew him well as I studied the galley proofs later that night. Ellington’s storytelling ability had Jones stepping out of almost every chapter and entering my personal workouts. Not as a training partner, but more like a wise sage who orchestrated me — rather bluntly — to do what was necessary to get bigger muscles.

I started jotting down questions that came to my mind during my adapted routines, and continued as I progressed through each of his 31 chapters. At the end of the week, I e-mailed my queries to Dr. Darden and a several-day dialogue began.

Below is the payoff.


SUPERVISION: NECESSARY OR NOT?

Question: Due to the level of motivation required to perform the kind of "outright hard work" involved in HIT, do you think most people would get better results training with a partner?

Answer: The right training partner or supervisor can make a noticeable difference in overall results. Casey Viator’s training history at Nautilus provides an interesting example.

In my new HIT book, I note that Arthur Jones personally trained Casey Viator for 10 months prior to the 1971 Mr. America contest. Actually, the personal-training part was much less than that. Let me explain.

Jones was briefly introduced to Viator at the 1970 Mr. America contest in Los Angeles, where Casey placed third. Jones had driven from his home in Lake Helen, Florida, to Los Angeles and on the way back he stopped by Red Lerille’s gym in Lafayette, Louisiana, and reassembled some of his initial Nautilus machines that he had displayed in California a week earlier. Viator lived nearby so Lerille invited him over to talk with Jones and go though a workout.

And what a training session it was. "Arthur almost killed me," Viator remembered. "I had a tremendous pump throughout my upper body. I could feel myself actually growing during and after the workout."

Viator had never experienced a workout like Jones put him through and Jones had never exercised anyone with Viator’s genetic potential. As a result, Jones offered Viator a job with his new company, Nautilus, and assured Viator’s parents that he’d finish his senior year in high school in Florida. Besides training Viator over the next year, Jones would make sure he entered all the national bodybuilding contests. Everyone involved agreed that this was a doable arrangement.

Thus, Viator moved from Louisiana to Florida during the latter part of June 1970. His first scheduled contests under Jones’s guidance were Teenage Mr. America, during the last week of July, followed a month later by Mr. USA.

Jones began immediately training Viator on a three-times-per-week schedule, and true to his expectations, Viator started growing. From an initial body weight of 198 pounds, three weeks later Viator weighed 205 pounds and he easily won the Teenage Mr. America. In New Orleans, a month later at the Mr. USA, Viator weighed 210 pounds and was more cut than he was when he was 5 pounds lighter. Again, he was judged an easy winner.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu visited the Nautilus headquarters in mid-November 1970, Viator weighed 215 pounds and impressed both of the professional champions. Jones predicted that Casey would be more massive, with even more definition, by the 1971 Mr. America contest, which was 6 months away.

In early 1971, because of business and travel commitments, Jones stopped personally training Viator. Viator trained himself and slowly lost muscle and gained fat. In mid-February 1971, Jones noted that Casey was down to 205 pounds and was smoother than he’s been since he moved to Florida. At about the same time, he hired Kim Wood to take charge of the Quonset Hut workout room at DeLand High School, where all the training occurred. Wood supervised Viator for six weeks and reported back to Jones that he had trouble getting Viator to give him his best effort.

Finally, it was the middle of April, a month before the Jr. Mr. America, and Jones realized that if he doesn’t return to training Casey, Casey might get beat at the national event. So, Jones refocused on his personal training, cracked the whip as only he could, and Casey responded. In two weeks, Casey’s body weight was up to 210 pounds. At the contest, he weighed 215 and blew away the competition.

On June 12th, in York, Pennsylvania, at the 1971 Mr. America, Casey weighed 218 pounds and displayed his dominance by winning the main title and five of the six subdivisions . . . all at 19 years of age.


WITH JONES’S SUPERVISION,
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY

Question: So, instead of Jones training Viator for 10 months prior to the 1971 Mr. American, it was more like 6 months. Is that correct?

Answer: It was less than that. Some years ago, I saw all the records Jones keep from training Casey during 1970 and 1971. Jones trained Casey 41 times, which was equal to approximately 4 months at the rate of 2.5 workouts a week. Casey trained himself (with a few others sometimes helping) for 6 of the 10 months.

No one could motivate Casey the way Arthur could. Jim Flanagan and I trained Casey for several months in 1978, and helped get his body weight up to 220 pounds, but it was a real chore trying to get him fired-up for the majority of his training sessions. I don’t believe Casey ever got his muscular, competitive body weight above 220.

I remember one day, we had Casey on the duo-squat machine and our goal was 20 reps with each leg, which would be more than he’d ever done with us training him. He was at rep 15 and Arthur walked into the gym with a couple of people. "Twenty reps," Arthur repeated, after asking us about his progress, "hell, he can do 50 with each leg." Over the next three minutes, Viator not only did 50 reps, but 2 more for good measure. With Flanagan and me pushing him, he’d have stopped at 20.

Arthur Jones frequently said that when he trained Viator, Casey got bigger and leaner, by the day. When Casey trained himself, according to Jones, he gradually lost muscle and got fatter.

Something similar to a lesser degree also happened to just about everyone who was trained by Jones. It happened to me, to Flanagan, to Boyer Coe, to Ray Mentzer. Once you had experienced Jones’s brutally hard workouts, it was difficult to duplicate them on your own.

I must point out this about Viator’s courage and fortitude. He accepted Jones’s pushing to a magnitude that few people could have stomached. And he did so 41 times in 1970-71.


Question:
Are you saying that you absolutely have to have help in applying HIT the Arthur Jones way?

Answer: Actually, I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to get the best-possible results from HIT, you must have Arthur Jones as your personal trainer. I guarantee . . . that would be a real eye-opener.

Seriously, I know that most people will have great difficulty even locating a knowledgeable trainer, much less ever getting a personal training session from Arthur Jones.

The primary reason I wrote The New High-Intensity Training was to help bodybuilders learn how to train, and more importantly, how to train themselves. I do this by sharing stories, techniques, and routines — the basics of which I experienced from being around Arthur Jones for more than 30 years.

Sure, if you can afford the luxury of having a knowledgeable personal trainer, or can team up with a great workout partner, take advantage of the opportunity. But in my experience, sooner or later, you’re going to have to train alone and you’re going to have to push yourself.

With the do-it-yourself approach, your results will probably never be maximum. But they can be fairly close — and still very significant.

So, be prepared to train alone. Learn all you can about what motivates you. And arm yourself with The New HIT. With The New HIT, you’ll have the next-best thing to thing to being personally trained by Arthur Jones. (No commercial intended, but the book will truly help.)


WITH JONES, INTENSITY WAS SUPREME

Question: When Jones trained someone, was he a stickler for form?

Answer: Jones’s specialty was intensity. He had the knack of saying or doing whatever was necessary to get the desired response, which in most cases was more repetitions. When a trainee thought he was finished, Jones could always get at least two more reps from that individual.

Jones’s personal form when he trained himself was impeccable. In fact, I’ve never seen anybody better at keeping a relaxed face during HIT than Jones. But with Viator, Sergio Oliva, Boyer Coe, and the other athletes I watched him train, a small amount of cheating was acceptable. I’m not sure why he permitted it because he certainly understood what proper form was. Perhaps during the early 1970s, when he was training so many bodybuilders, it was simply easier to drive home intensity, than be so concerned with form.


INTENSITY OR FORM?

Question: Dr. Darden, which do you think is more important in getting the best results from HIT, intensity or form?

Answer: Great question, in fact, I could make a winning case for each one, or the idea that they are equally important.

My first response is to say that intensity is more important when you’re younger (from 15 to 40 years of age), and form is more important when your older (over 40). My reasoning is that a younger body can handle cheating much better than an older body, so as you get older, you’d be wise to focus more on form than intensity.

But as I look back on my 45 years of bodybuilding experience, combined with the thousands and thousands of individuals I’ve trained (and observed training), I can say with confidence that more people would profit from an understanding and application of proper form, than from proper intensity. Of course, in the long run, you’re going to need large amounts of both.


REDUCTION OF VOLUME AND FREQUENCY

Question: While it’s important not to workout too long or too often, do you think that many HIT enthusiasts have gotten carried away with reducing the volume and frequency of their training?

Answer: Yes, I believe you’re right, especially those who recommend only three exercises once a week, or even once every-other week. For those recommendations to come close to producing maximum results, the trainee would have to extremely big, strong, and advanced.

Concerning volume, if you’re on a reduced-calorie diet to lose fat, you can shorten your HIT routine to only 4 or 5 exercises per session and make excellent results. But once you increase your daily calories to the 3,000-plus range, then the number of exercises should double.

Concerning frequency, I believe the results from the vast majority of the once-a-week training could be improved with the addition of one not-to-failure (NTF) session each week.


NOT-TO-FAILURE TRAINING

Question: Can you tell me more about this NTF workout.

Answer: A NTF session is where on each exercise, you stop the set two repetitions short of an all-out effort. You take your normal weight or resistance and instead of going to failure or beyond, you simply quit two reps short of your previous best effort. If on Monday, for example, you performed 200 pounds for 10 repetitions on the bench press with a barbell, then on Wednesday, you still take 200 pounds, but you stop the set after repetition 8.

(If you’re using the SuperSlow style of 4 to 6 repetitions, then stopping one repetition short of failure is your goal.)

The idea is that by stopping short of failure you spare your recovery ability the task of having to overcompensate from a much deeper inroad. In fact, NTF workouts may speed recovery by supplying some of the chemistry to guard against atrophy and to facilitate active rest.

Jones applied this concept frequently in the early 1970s, but seldom mentioned it in his writings and lectures. I talked about not-to-failure training in the middle of my first Nautilus book, but it wasn’t emphasized. We both should have discussed it more.


Question:
Did you use NTF workouts in training David Hudlow, who in your HIT book gained 18-1/2 pounds of muscle in two weeks and 39 pounds of muscle in 6 months?

Answer: I certainly did. As a result, Hudlow made steady progress for the entire 6 months that I trained him. All of his strength plateaus were small and easily broken.


18-1/2 POUNDS OF MUSCLE IN TWO WEEKS

Question: That 18-1/2 pounds of muscle built by David Hudlow in two weeks seems almost too good to be true. Is there anything I’m missing here?

Answer: Actually, I understated the time period. The 18-1/2 pounds of muscle occurred in 11 days, not 14. He registered no weight gain during days 12, 13, and 14, so I just called it two weeks to keep it in line with the other two-week plans in the book. I took accurate measurements of Hudlow before and after, as well as photos of him from the front and back, which you can examine in the HIT book on page 202, so I’ve tried to present the results in as factual a way as possible.

I know a lot of people believe that adding that much muscle so quickly is impossible. That’s why I had Hudlow’s resting metabolic rate checked before and after the 14 days. Not surprising to me, the addition of 18-1/2 pounds of muscle increased his resting metabolic rate by 530 calories, or 28.6 calories per pound of added muscle per day. That reinforced to me that the weight gain was added muscle and not just water brought about from the creatine loading. (The before-and-after photos confirmed that also.) I do think, however, that the creatine monohydrate formula was responsible for from 25 to 30 percent of the results.

Interestingly, I replicated the 14-day experiment with another Gainesville Health & Fitness subject, Michael Spillane. Spillane was younger, 21, lighter, 132 pounds, and had less genetic potential than did Hudlow. But he still added 11-3/4 pounds of muscle in 14 days.

In 1990, I worked with Keith Whitley, a bodybuilder from Dallas, Texas, who added 29 pounds of muscle in six weeks — 11-1/4 pounds of it occurred during the first two-week period. And Whitley achieved that without the help of creatine.

But Dave Hudlow certainly set my personal-training record for the most muscle built in two weeks.


TWO WEEKS OF THE COLORADO EXPERIMENT

Question: In Jones’s 1973 Colorado Experiment, how much muscle did Casey Viator gain during the first two weeks?

Answer: Now we’re talking about a probable world record for muscular growth, but as I point out in chapter 3 of my book, Viator had been in a disabling accident and his muscles had atrophied. So, during the experiment, he was rebuilding previously existing levels of muscular size. That stated, Casey Viator gained 39.87 — that’s right, just 0.13 shy of 40 — pounds of muscle in two weeks. That’s an average of 2.85 pounds of muscle a day for 14 days. Viator more than doubled Hudlow’s rate of growth.

A little known fact is that Arthur Jones went through the same training program in Colorado as Casey, with one exception: He did no lower-body exercise. He performed one set of 11 or fewer HIT upper-body exercises, three times per week. The result: Jones built 11-1/4 pounds of muscle in 14 days, which is not bad at all for a man almost 50 years of age.


Question:
Why didn’t Jones train his legs during the Colorado Experiment?

Answer: Jones said he had every intention of training his legs, but when he arrived he had a bit of a chest cold. Then, the high altitude associated with being in the mountains of Fort Collins, Colorado, had him feeling somewhat dizzy, especially during his workout. Thus, he simplified his routine to upper body only.


CHAMPION BODYBUILDERS AT NAUTILUS

Question: Did you ever train Arnold Schwarzenegger when he visited Nautilus?

Answer: Arnold spent a week with Jones in November of 1970 and, unfortunately, I wasn’t around then. But I heard about his visit from Jones, Viator, and Larry Gilmore. There’s a lot of the interesting stuff concerning Arnold and Arthur in chapter 5: "How HIT Humbled Schwarzenegger." Arnold, for perhaps multiple reasons, couldn’t get the hang of high-intensity training the Arthur Jones way.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve been around Arnold four or five times. But I’ve never had the chance to train him, or train with him.


Question:
Besides Casey Viator, Sergio Oliva, and Mike Mentzer, who are some of the other big-name bodybuilders that you worked with?

Answer: I’ve trained Boyer Coe, Joe Means, Scott Wilson, and Ray Mentzer to name four. Also I put Steve Reeves through a workout in 1978, as well as Frank Zane and Bob Guida. Also, I’ve worked out with Ken Leistner, Pete Grymkowski, Robby Robinson, Jim Haislop, Richard Baldwin, Chris Dickerson, and Lee Haney.

There’s probably a few more, but I can’t recall them right now.


THE BIGGEST AND BEST

Question: How about a little word, or phrase, association test that relates to the bodybuilders you’ve trained or seen?

Answer: Okay.

  • Best arms: three-way tie among Casey Viator, Sergio Oliva, and Boyer Coe

  • Best chest: Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Best shoulders: Scott Wilson

  • Best back: Dorian Yates

  • Best thighs: Tom Platz

  • Best calves: Chris Dickerson

  • Best forearms: Casey Viator

  • Best abdominals: Frank Zane

  • Most muscular: Sergio Oliva

  • Best overall first impression: Boyer Coe at the 1965 Mr. Texas contest

  • Strongest during multiple workouts: Ray Mentzer

  • Best consistent workout form: Robert Berg, a bodybuilder and a medical doctor from Stuart, Florida


BIG ARMS!

Question: I’m surprised you failed to place Schwarenegger’s arms in the top category as Viator’s, Oliva’s, and Coe’s. Didn’t Jones measure and compare all of their arms?

Answer: Arnold had a great peak on his right arm. But I don’t think Arnold’s triceps, nor forearms, were in the same category as Viator’s, Oliva’s, and Coe’s. Jones’s measured Arnold’s flexed right upper arm "cold" at 19-1/2 inches. His left arm was 19 inches.

In peak condition, Casey’s right arm was 19-5/16 inches, Oliva’s was 20-1/8 inches, and Coe’s was 18-7/16 inches. Coe had more flat, oval-shaped, peaked upper arms than did either Viator or Oliva. Oliva’s arms were round like a couple of bowling balls and Viator’s were massive and rock hard.

Coe’s arms, because of their unusual shape, always looked bigger than they measured. What muscular biceps and full triceps he possessed.

Oliva’s arms, from any angle or position, both relaxed and contracted, were absolutely HUGE. Surprisingly, he moved them around his body as he talked and listened with an unassuming, childlike glee. There was none of this flexed posturing that you normally see among men with big arms.

Viator’s arms reminded me of Popeye, because his hanging forearms appeared disproportionately large and impressive. When Jones asked him to flex his arm, his forearm mass seemed to jettison his biceps into a much higher than anticipated mound of muscle. Casey could make his biceps, in a series of three distinct contractions, grow more massive as he moved his forearm closer to his shoulder. I’ve seen visitors at close range, suddenly back off, as if they thought his gradually contracting biceps was going to explode.


TODAY’S MR. OLYMPIA CONTEST

Question: What’s your take on the current Mr. Olympia competitors?

Answer: The last Mr. Olympia contest that I attended was in 1995 in Atlanta. It was starting to become a sideshow then. But now, judging from the photo spreads in the magazines, it’s ridiculous.

I admire big, muscular arms, broad shoulders, thick chests, and great legs — but I don’t admire them when they’re connected to bloated, 42-inch waistlines.

Drugs, hormone injections, implants, and who knows what else, have destroyed professional bodybuilding today. I want no part of it.

I choose to remember the drug-free bodybuilders who influenced me when I was growing up. Bodybuilding was a lot healthier then.


GREAT PHYSIQUES FROM THE PAST

Question: Who were some of the bodybuilders that you admired when you began training?

Answer: When I became interested in bodybuilding in 1959, I naturally started reading the muscle magazines. The men in the magazines that I admired were the classic physiques, such as Steve Reeves and John Grimek, as well as Ron Lacy, who won the Mr. America in 1957 and had terrific calves.

When I went to Baylor University in 1962, there was a guy on the football team named Bobby Crenshaw. He played defensive tackle and was about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds. Crenshaw had 18-inch upper arms and 15-inch forearms, which were mighty impressive; but even more impressive was his neck, which must have measured at least 20 inches. Crenshaw inspired me to work my neck. To this day, I’m a firm believer in strength training the neck, for both athletes and nonathletes.

Recently, I attended a reunion of Texas bodybuilders and lifters from the 1960s, which was held at Ronnie Ray’s home in Dallas. About 75 of my old friends were there and we had a great time reliving "the good old days." One of the highlights was a film that Terry Todd, of the University of Texas, had assembled that showed black-and-white movie clips from the AAU Mr. America contests, 1940 through 1954. All of these champions were drug-free and I must emphasize that there were some very well built men in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Of course Grimek and Reeves stood out, but so did Steve Stanko, Mr. America 1944, who was more massive than Grimek. There were Clancy Ross (’45) and George Eiferman (’48), with their massive chests, as well as John Farbotnik (’50). Roy Hilligen (’51) impressed me with his overall muscle density combined with extreme definition. And there was Marvin Eder, who never achieved Mr. America, but it was clear from the film that he should have won in the early 1950s.

Sitting beside me as we watched the movie clips was a 69-year-old lifter from Kansas (yes, there were a few out-of-staters who attended). His name was Wilbur Miller and in 1964 he deadlifted 715 pounds, while weighing 245 pounds, which was a world record at that time. The amazing thing about Miller was that he never worked out in a commercial gym and never had a training partner. For 90 percent of his exercising, he never used an Olympic barbell. He always trained alone, after finishing his day job. Wilbur was, and still is, a wheat farmer. Today, at a height of 6 feet 3 inches, he weighs a lean 220 pounds and has muscular forearms, thick wrists, and a vise-like grip. He sort of reminds me of the character John Wayne played in his old western movies.

Miller can’t understand why anyone interested in lifting and bodybuilding would want to get involved with drugs. "All it takes to get bigger and stronger," Miller says with his friendly demeanor, "is an understanding of weight-training basics and hard work."

As much as any of those Mr. America winners, I appreciate and admire Wilbur Miller.

The plain truth is that hundreds of thousands of men throughout the middle of the last century strengthened and built their bodies — without drugs. And it can still be accomplished without drugs today.


STAY TUNED FOR PART II

In Part II of this interview, Ellington Darden talks about his long-time buddy, Ken Hutchins. He also answers questions concerning timed static contractions, negative work, his favorite specialized routines, and his current research projects.

Discuss this article | Text Version

Charles Coulter

New York, USA

Looking forward to reading the book, ordered it yesterday.

Charles
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HamsFitness

On the subject of supervision -

I havent as yet found anyone who is willing to work out to the neccessary intensity or speed to follow a proper high intensity work out - this causes me to train alone as usual - I find it far easier to train hardest on my own, after all I am not in contest with anyone other than myself and my last workout!

If I workout with people i find I spend most of my time justifying why i workout in the way i do (HIT) rather than lifting and getting out to eat and rest! I took my brother to the gym the other day and what normally takes me 35-40 mins took me well over an hour! I am paying for it though as I feel a lot more exhausted and am finding it far tought to recover!

If people want to stand and talk as opposed to lift weights - they should go to the pub.

Bottom line -
Motivate yourself in the gym and you will find it crosses over to all aspects of your life - if you rely on others, that too will cross over to other aspects of your life and you end up looking to others for support and help all over the place - who needs that!
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Mid-Sized Tex

California, USA

Oh My!

What an intelligent post! Know wonder you're called 'Wizard.' Well done, dear boy.
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Dave Price

New Jersey, USA

Why is that you mention bodybuilders like Sergio Oliva when he clearly used steroids. You mentioned this in your H.I.T book the one with Any in it. Isn't H.I.T supposed to be free of bodybuilders using steroids. How would Arthur Jones accept that he used such drugs?
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Dave Price

New Jersey, USA

Why is that you mention bodybuilders like Sergio Oliva when he clearly used steroids. You mentioned this in your H.I.T book the one with Any in it. Isn't H.I.T supposed to be free of bodybuilders using steroids. How would Arthur Jones accept that he used such drugs?
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National Fitness

UT-Austin Professor Jan Todd called Dr. Darden, "The most prolific writer (exercise & bodybuilding) of all-time!"

Who else (besides me) thinks that Ellington should be nominated for Induction into The National Fitness Hall of Fame?

The 2007 National Fitness Hall of Fame just held there Induction Ceremony on March 18th 2007. Inductees included Lou Ferrigno, John Abdo, Gilad, Betty Weider and 6 others.

They join the likes of Gov, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack LaLanne, Joe Weider, Dr. Bob Goldman, Robert Kennedy, Arthur Jones, Jane Fonda and others.

2006 HOF Inductee Tony Little was terrific as the co-Master of Ceremony!

Photos and video clips can be seen at the website!

Sincerely,
John Figarelli, Executive Director
The National Fitness Museum

P.S. - Dr. Darden, please get in contact with me asap! Thanks
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