SportsKids for Life
You hear the
exclamation from each of the surprisingly cheerful early morning workout
crew as they enter the posh Sports Club LA that features a clientele of
“A-List” Hollywood celebrities, multi-millionaire business tycoons, and even
some regular people. When the doors are unlocked at 5:00 AM, Terry Robinson
is there to smile and greet every member just like he has been since the
club opened many years ago. He knows everybody by name, most of their
families and he can tell you about each of their workouts. While early
mornings often attract the most consistent and dedicated health nuts, nobody
has anything on Terry who was born exactly 80 years earlier than my son,
Benji, on March 9, 1916. Do the math: yep, he’s 90!
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
at the age of 90, Terry Robinson is a Renaissance Man. He’s a renowned
painter (we have two of his paintings hanging in our house), an historian
specializing in physical culture, a Greek Classicist and a teacher. An avid
reader who is generally in the middle of at least four books at once, he has
learned that sports and learning are an incredible combination that can
change your life. He is a walking Encyclopedia, but more importantly, a
resource as the health club librarian who is always trying to help others to
be better people like his parents did for him. Throughout his life, sports
have played a central role and confirmed the life lessons of teamwork,
friendship, winning and losing with grace, and always working to do your
have always played an important role in Terry’s life and became a bonding
experience with his parents, his four brothers and the children he raised.
Surprisingly, Terry’s upbringing nearly a century ago was not too dissimilar
to what we attempt to provide for our children. Organized sports and the
support of his parents were an important part of his early childhood. Born
near the beach in Coney Island, New York, in the pre-Video Game Era, the
boys in the neighborhood used to just “play, play, play”. Terry’s parents
encouraged the five boys to play sports and it was a major part of the
father boxed, played ball and was on the NY boxing commission during the
glory days of the sport. His mom was a competitive swimmer. Their love of
sports rubbed off on Terry and his brothers who all competed in the early
days of organized youth sports: the New York Police Athletic Leagues (PAL)
where the cops organized leagues, coached the kids, taught life values and
competed in every sport for championships throughout the five boroughs.
Summers were spent in Citizens Military Training Camps which were organized
by the Army and were the forerunner of modern day Sports Camps. The family
was very interested in what each boy did athletically, went out to watch
whenever possible, and like the parents of today, they got a good chance to
“brag” at the office about their kids.
created tremendous lifelong friendships and family bonds. By high school
Terry was recognized as an all-around athlete. In addition to winning a
Golden Gloves championship (he still has the ring), Terry participated on
the school boxing team, ran the 60 and 220 yard sprints, was part of the
city championship 440 yard relay team, the swim team and was the starting
tailback on the football team. When he played football nobody used to wear
helmets and Terry said he only made the team because it was “before big guys
played ball”. Encouraged by his football coach, and by the purchase of a
“Strength and Health” magazine that he got for a whopping $0.05, Terry
Robinson began weight training and his life would be forever changed.
of Dedication and Training
There were no
fancy machines or steroids in the early days of body building; just
dumbbells and barbells. Yet, that was enough to sculpt a physique. He
started out at
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
Bothner’s Gym on 42nd Street, the first coed gym in NY. Opened by
George Bothner, an undefeated lightweight wrestler, the gym became one of
the first “hot spots” in the City. In the many, many years since Terry has
hardly missed a workout and his dedication and love of sports has paid off
handsomely in every aspect of his life.
Terry became one
of the first competitive body builders. In 1940 he competed in the first
major Mr. America contest held in Madison Square Garden; he won the “Small
Man Division” and finishing 5th overall. He came back stronger
and repeated his Small Man title in 1941, finishing sixth overall. In 1942,
he enlisted in the Army and was sent to the South Pacific as a Combat
Instructor. Before he left for active duty he was put on the cover of
“Strength and Health”, the same magazine that had originally helped to
inspire his love for fitness.
he entered one last competition and won Mr. New York (pictures included).
His long career as a personal trainer, gym manager, gym owner, Army
instructor, chiropractor, and kinesiologist was all initially inspired by
his parent’s encouragement of his love of sports. He’s had so many
highlights including being one of the founders of Muscle Beach in Venice;
the workout Mecca that was eventually made famous by Lou Ferigno and Arnold
Schwarzenegger. He became a personal trainer hired by Hollywood studios
whipping into shape such celebrities as Clark Gable, Anthony Hopkins, George
C. Scott, Robert Taylor, Cole Porter, Ozzie Nelson, Tyrone Power, Ricardo
Montalban, the great Mario Lanza and countless others. Through it all, he
never missed his workouts, is always available for others and has maintained
his sense of quiet dignity and optimism that have become his trademarks.
sports and working in gyms during the years, Terry considers himself to be a
lucky man because of all the people he’s met and become friendly with. As a
philosopher, he says: “Where does man’s glory begin and end? My glory is
that I’ve had so many friends that I’ve met through sports.” For the young
kids, he offers some simple advice: “Listen to your coach!” The key to
“success in sports and in life is teamwork” and the life lessons that can be
learned simply by playing. Through sports, you learn about competition and
life: “You win some and you lose some. You go with the tide of life and
learn how to be a good winner and a good loser”.
To the consummate
teacher and role model, thanks for the lessons and have a “good morning
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