A tour of Loprinzi’s Gym – 70th anniversary, 2018: A photo essay

To follow up on the 1963 biographical profile of Sam Loprinzi featured last week here at FOUNDATIONS OF IRON, and in continued recognition of the seventieth anniversary of the classic Loprinzi’s Gym in Portland, OR, USA, today we are pleased to present a number of photos of Loprinzi’s, taken from a workout visit in early 2018.

LoprinzisGymInteriorSam Loprinzi in his gym, from the February 1963 issue of “Iron Man.” Click to enlarge (opens in new window/tab).

Without a doubt the oldest weight training gym in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA (not counting private athletic clubs), Loprinzi’s Gym has been in continuous operation since 1948.

You can see from the pictures below that they acquired a great deal more equipment in the years since the photograph above from 1963! In particular, in addition to the standard dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, and original pulley machines, the workout floor features a Universal Gym Machine and a number of early Nautilus machines that date to around the 1970s.

Even after all these decades, it is hard to beat Loprinzi’s for old-school weight training. However, in contrast to the stereotype of unapproachable macho “hard core” gyms, Loprinzi’s offers a very welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere for the local community to keep in shape, including general fitness classes, cardio machines, and an outdoor swimming pool. If you are ever in the Portland, OR, area, be sure to stop by Loprinzi’s!

Further information on Loprinzi’s Gym, including hours and rates (opens in new window/tab): http://www.loprinzisgym.com/

Click any of the following photos to enlarge; they will open in a new window/tab.

LoprinziEntranceThe journey back to 1948 begins at the entrance to Loprinzi’s Gym. Anticipation builds as you hear the clanking iron within.

LoprinziNautilus2On entering the gym, you are greeted by a bold color palette of blue, red and green, which makes you feel like you stepped into a Technicolor movie of the era.

LoprinziBarbellsFixed-weight barbells resting vertically: a common fixture in older gyms. This same set can be seen in the background of the 1963 photograph at the top of this post, if you look carefully.

LoprinziWeightFloorThe dumbbell training floor in the center of the gym.

LoprinzisGlobeDumbbellsLoprinzi’s also has a full set of amazing 1940s “globe” style dumbbells up to 100 lbs.

LoprinzisBrandDumbbellsAt some point in the past, Sam Loprinzi’s brother Joe marketed his own branded small dumbbells for home exercise. You can occasionally find these on ebay.

LoprinzisMoonBenchWorkout area with older benches including a curved moon/yogi bench, something you never see in newer gym facilities.

LoprinziBikesAs the years went by, more equipment was added to the gym. These are vintage Schwinn stationary exercise bikes from the 1960s, near a preacher curl bench.

LoprinziLiftingAreaThe classic powerlifting area. The big compound lifts have long been considered by many to be foundational to strength and physique development.


LoprinziUniversalTagA Universal Gym Machine, probably installed in the later 1960s or the 1970s.

LoprinzisMachines1970s-era Nautilus machines developed by Arthur Jones.

LoprinzisInfoSignAnd after wrapping up an exuberant old-school workout, we say good-bye for the day to this rare piece of history as we pass by the hand-painted exterior sign with the quintessential neighborhood gym’s information. And being so wrapped up in weight training today, we didn’t even get a glimpse of the outdoor swimming pool or the upstairs aerobics floor!

Were we ever really here at this wonderland of physical culture from 1948, or was it all just a dream? It already feels kind of like a fading memory from the distant past… but we are anxiously looking forward to our next chance to have a workout at Loprinzi’s!


6 thoughts on “A tour of Loprinzi’s Gym – 70th anniversary, 2018: A photo essay

  1. Conor Heffernan March 20, 2018 / 1:11 am

    Very cool to see the equipment still in use – my own gym seems paltry now in comparison!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh at FoundationsOfIron March 20, 2018 / 8:22 am

      Yes, for me it is a bit of a letdown to go back to the routine at my usual “modern” gym after having a workout session at Loprinzi’s, haha.


    • John Balkk August 23, 2020 / 1:17 pm

      Interesting that the preacher bench was curved as it was at the original at
      vinces. All of the flat preacher benches miss the point. Built by people who don’t understand!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Conor Heffernan August 29, 2020 / 7:56 am

        IT’s fascinating isn’t it? The flat one’s are just intuitively off the mark!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. JB617 March 28, 2018 / 6:36 am

    I can’t tell you how many hours I spent on a universal gym back in the day. Cool post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh at FoundationsOfIron March 28, 2018 / 8:40 am

      Hi JB617, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I love the Universal machine! If I had enough space at home, I would try to source a vintage Universal machine for home workouts.

      Liked by 1 person

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