Friday, December 20, 2019

An Iron Reunion - By Jim Duggan

During the Summer of 1983, I had just turned nineteen, and was looking for a place to train. There were several local gyms in the area, and I wasn't sure where to go. Eventually, I made my decision based on cost ( at that age, cost will definitely factor into anything you do!), and proximity. I was fortunate that Bruno's Health Club was close to where I lived, and relatively inexpensive. Looking back, I can't believe the good fortune I had when I walked into Bruno's, on July 27, 1983.

As I've often described, Bruno's was the ultimate hard-core gym, when the term "hard-core" really meant something. Nowadays, "hard-core" is a euphemism for steroids. Back then, it signified a place where hard, heavy workouts were the norm. The big basic exercises- Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Bench Presses- were emphasized. Machines were frowned upon. Instead, there was plenty of steel. YORK steel, to be more precise. At a time when most gyms had three or four olympic bars, Bruno's had twelve, plus two York Power Bars ( which were relatively new at the time.) You didn't go to Bruno's to "pump iron." You went there to LIFT. And there was no shortage of Lifters at the gym. Powerlifters and Olympic Weightlifters. If you trained hard and heavy, Bruno's was for you. There was one more thing about Bruno's that separated it from most other gyms: Steroids - and steroid users - were not welcome. I realize that many places claim to be against steroids, but, for the most part, they only talk a good game. Larry Licandro, the owner of Bruno's, had the guts to actually enforce his "no drugs" rule. More than once, a drugged-up pumper would try to join the gym, only to be shown the door, and told to go someplace else.

Even though Bruno's was only in existence for less than ten years, the impact that the place had on its members can't be underestimated. Many of us who trained there, are still lifting today, over thirty years after the gym closed its doors for the last time. The spirit of Bruno's is alive and well, as evidenced by the number of us who still "hoist the steel," and remain true to the values that we learned at Bruno's.

Each year, a bunch of us get together for a Holiday reunion dinner. We've been doing this for over ten years now, and while we may be few in number, we are still dedicated to lifting hard and heavy. This year, as in years past, we gathered at Domenico's Restaurant in Levittown, N.Y., which is down the road from where the gym once stood. This year, we had eight attendees, which is about average for us. Our ages range from 55 to 64 years old. But our enthusiasm for lifting has not waned over the years. The coming year will be particularly memorable as one of our members - Tom Tedesco - will turn 65 in March. Also, January will mark the 25th anniversary of the passing of Larry "Bruno" Licandro. Hopefully, we will all continue to lift for many years to come.

Season Greetings from Bruno's Barbarians!
Standing ( L to R ):  Dr. Rich Seibert, Tom Tedesco, Chris Newins, Mike Doucette.
Sitting ( L to R ):  Jim Duggan, Bill Mannino, Bob Sailor, Steve Matthews.


Editors Note: Great article Jim! I always love hearing about Bruno's and wish I could have met Larry.  We both ran our gyms the same way. Merry Christmas!
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