The fitness industry lost a longtime advocate and former owner last week when Bob Delmonteque passed away at his home in Malibu, CA. He was 85.
The Holy Cross Mortuary and Cemetery in Culver City, CA, confirmed that Delmonteque died on Nov. 21. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Holy Cross Mortuary.
Delmonteque operated clubs with Ray Wilson and Dick Minns that included the Jack LaLanne European Health Spas, Executive Health Clubs and the Presidents Health Club in Houston. Delmonteque set up a conditioning program to train astronauts, including Jim Lovell, before their NASA space missions. Lovell later served as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Delmonteque was born on Nov. 9, 1926, according to Larry Gurney, founder of The Rush Fitness Complex, Knoxville, TN, who says Delmonteque was like a grandfather to him and talked to him three to four times a week for several years.
“There is not one pioneer in our industry that doesn’t know, respect and love Bob Delmonteque,” Gurney says, noting that Delmonteque worked with or had been partners with many people on the who’s who list in the fitness industry.
Delmonteque belied his age with a chiseled physique befit a man in his 30s and 40s, let alone someone well into his 70s and 80s.
“He was really a freak of nature,” says Bill Hubner, a friend of Delmonteque’s for 50 years. “He was in such good shape. He kept himself in such good shape. Nobody at his age looked the way he did.”
Hubner is the owner of Paramount Fitness, Los Angeles, as well as Fitness USA, which has clubs in Michigan, Indiana and California. He also is a principal partner of The Rush Fitness Complex. Hubner says the secret to Delmonteque’s physique was his dedication.
“We would have a big Thanksgiving turkey dinner, and he would go in the other room and do 1,000 sit-ups,” Hubner says. “He was a great guy. A warm, caring, completely dedicated fitness guy. Everybody knew him and loved him. He made a lasting impression on everybody.”
In an email, Wilson wrote of Delmonteque: “The importance that Jack LaLanne was for public awareness of exercise, Bob Delmonteque was just as important for really pushing conditioning exercise, which was really cardio exercise as we refer to it today. Bob was the originator of a lot of great things in the fitness industry. Bob was willing to be the hands-on guy and let others get the credit.”
An author of several books, including “Lifelong Fitness 2004,” Delmonteque was perhaps best known as a trainer to the stars, training such Hollywood legends as John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.
“I got them into shape for movies,” Delmonteque told Club Industry in a 2009 interview. “The studios, when they had an actor that was out of shape, they used to call me, and it was my job to get them into shape. It was a very, very easy thing to do because a lot of them were eating the wrong foods, drinking, not doing any exercise. You’d have two or three weeks. Almost all of the time, you would succeed.”
Delmonteque, who also worked with boxing great Jack Dempsey, long admired LaLanne, Club Industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient who died earlier this year at the age of 96. Delmonteque said he wished he had some of the “pizzazz” that LaLanne had.
“I always used to tell Jack, ‘You’re my inspiration. If you make it to 100, I’m going to make it to 100,’” he said.
Delmonteque, who added that he had led “quite an illustrious life,” also worked alongside another Club Industry Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Joe Weider, on his magazine, Muscle & Fitness. American Media Inc., the parent company of Weider Publications, which publishes Muscle & Fitness, issued the following statement on the Muscle & Fitness website: “The AMI/Weider family wishes to extend its condolences to the family and friends of Bob Delmonteque and will continue to honor his lifelong commitment to the fitness lifestyle.”