The Story of Jeanne Kalfur: Corrective and Contouring Exercise — Peggy Gironda (1951)

Alas, real life has once again gotten in the way of blogging for a number of months. FOUNDATIONS OF IRON is still alive, I promise! At last, we present another classic article on women’s fitness, this time the “Vivacious Womanhood” supplement to the July-August 1951 issue of Peary Rader’s Iron Man magazine. This piece demonstrates the value of weight training for therapeutic purposes. Today, decades later, physical therapy continues to incorporate resistance exercises with machines, bands and free weights.

This article was written by Peggy Gironda (nee O’Neil), the first wife of the “iron guru” Vince Gironda, fitness trainer to Hollywood stars and physique competitors in the middle to later decades of the twentieth century. Like Vince, Peggy had a background in show business. At a time when women typically trained separately from men, Peggy trained female fitness enthusiasts at Vince’s Gym and other locations. Unfortunately, she passed away from a brain hemorrhage at a young age.


A rare photo of Peggy and Vince Gironda together, on the cover of the magazine which featured the article below. Click to enlarge (opens in new window/tab)

Further reading (opens in new window/tab): A feature article on Peggy Gironda

Magazine Excerpt:

Many people think of Barbell Training as merely a means to build a beautiful body It is so very much more than that. I, for one, never realized until I got into regular workouts, the health giving qualities that this type of exercise has to offer. What most people fail to realize is “You exercise from the Inside out . . . .” The majority of women who come to my gym are anxious to lose weight, the rest need to gain and many simply need a readjustment and general toning. Occasionally however, someone comes to seek help from a physical ailment that hasn’t responded well under other treatment and when it is within our scope, we are pleased to be able to help them. Such a patron was Jeanne Kalfur. She came to the gym with a friend who was starting a reducing program and she asked me if I thought exercise could help to overcome the pain she had from a stiff neck. I very definitely thought barbell training was the answer to her problem. I saw Jeanne as a stunning young matron with prematurely gray hair, brown eyes and a tall, slim figure. A truly regal figure but for one thing, her posture. . . As is so often true of tall people (Jeanne is 5’8″) she slumps. Upon closer scrutiny, I noticed she had round shoulders, a sunken chest and a forward head that had caused a hump in the vicinity of her collar bone Later I found she had done secretarial work for some ten years and unquestionably she has brought about this condition from constantly hunching over a typewriter. There must be muscle tone built to pull her shoulders and head back into correct position. This process of building starts from the very first period of exercise, but to effect a permanent change, it must be continued for some time. By doing these exercises to correct bad posture the tension is taken away from the area, circulation is increased and the pain is therefore banished. Thus I theorized. So that you readers might know of our success, Jeanne graciously consented to my writing this article and even wrote a little explanation in her own words: “I am employed as a secretary and for the past seven months have been suffering from a stiff neck and had to quit my job. I went to a chiropractor and osteopathic doctors and received some relief through heat therapy. I joined Vince’s Gym about six weeks ago and after the second time, the pain disappeared entirely. Dancing is one of my favorite passtimes [sic] but I could not dance with someone taller than myself due to the pain in my neck and I am very happy now to be able to enjoy myself once more.”

You might be interested in the exercises Jeanne has been given. Remember she needs lots and lots of stretching and deep breathing for the upper body. She also needs toning in the lower body and was given exercises for this purpose. Although Jeanne had no particular weight problem, she needed roundness in the upper body and without changing her diet she has added five pounds bodyweight in one month and some changes in measurements but nothing you could call spectacular. As she develops more strength she will undoubtedly make better gains in the upper body. Most important is she feels well and has been able to resume her work and to enjoy her leisure hours.

Beginning the first month Jeanne’s measurements were: height 5’8″; weight 123 1/2 lbs; chest (under-arm) 33″; bust 32 1/2; waist 29″; pelvis 34 1/2″; hips 38″; upper thigh 21 1/2″. Beginning the second month her measurements were: weight 128 1/2 lbs; chest 33 1/2″; bust 33″; waist 28 1/2″; pelvis 33 1/2″; hips 37 1/2″; thigh 21 1/4″. This means then, that in one month Jeanne gained five pounds, put an inch on her chest and bust, and decreased her body measurements as a beginning to a more symmetrical figure.


Photos included with the article, featuring demonstrations of exercises by gym members including Jeanne Kalfur, the subject of the profile. Click images to enlarge (they open in new windows/tabs)

For the first month this was her program:

Deltoid–Seated press behind neck.

25 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

20 lbs. 2 sets, 10 reps.

Latissimus–Barbell rowing

(Jeanne started with 3 sets of 10 reps with 25 lbs. and increased to–

45 lbs. 1 set, 5 reps. wide grip; 1 set, 5 reps. close grip.

40 lbs. 1 set, 5 reps. wide grip; 1 set, 5 reps. close grip.

35 lbs. 1 set, 5 reps. wide grip; 1 set, 5 reps. close grip

Pectoral–Incline dumbell [sic] press

Jeanne started with 10 and 12 pound dumbell and increased to–

17 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

15 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

12 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

Thorax–Barbell Yogi pullover

25 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

20 lbs., 2 sets, 10 reps.

Abdomen–Bent-knee leg raise

3 sets of 15 reps.

Calf–Vinces toe raise machine

3 sets, 30 reps.

Second month program

Deltoid–Seated press behind neck

25 lbs. 2 sets, 10 reps.

20 lbs, 1 set 10 reps.


bentover [sic] lateral raise

12 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

10 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.


12 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

10 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.


Dumbell press on flat bench

22 lbs 1 set, 10 reps.

20 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

17 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

Latissimus–Alternate rowing

27 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

25 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

22 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.


Barbell rowing (close grip)

45 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

40 lbs. 1 set, 10 reps.

Thorax–Dumbell Yogi pullover

10 lbs. 3 sets, 10 reps.


3 sets, 10 reps.

Thigh–Leg press

40 lbs, 3 sets, 10 reps.

Calf–Toe press

40 lbs. 3 sets, 30 reps.


A series of additional exercise demonstration photos included with the article. Click image to enlarge (opens in new window/tab)

Photo caption: “In the top photo, Jeanne is doing the dumbell Yogi pullover. These photos of Jeanne were taken after only about six weeks training and she made remarkable progress in so short a time indicating that great improvement is possible regardless of your age. In the next photo Barbara Freedman is doing alternate elbow and knee touch as an abdominal squeeze. She doubles up until the knee and elbow touch. In the next photo, Jeanne is doing the Incline Bench press with barbell and in the bottom she is doing the bent knee raise. Read text matter for description of the program for these exercises.”

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