All photos © Greg Merritt
Doug’s Gym never changed. Launched in 1962 by Doug Eidd, it stayed lost in time in downtown Dallas, amongst the bail bondsmen just across the street from a courthouse. Same weights, same primitive machines, same bare wooden floors and peeling paint, same dirt and dust. For 56 years, Doug was there daily from open to close, often smoking a stogie. In 2004 when we were in Dallas to cover a bodybuilder contest, me and my colleagues at FLEX and Muscle & Fitness were walking from the venue to the hotel when Doug’s appeared before us like a beacon from a much earlier era, from before we were born, from back when merely lifting weights branded you an eccentric. “Look at that old place.” “Is it open?” Of course it was.
We trudged up the creaky stairs to the second floor and traveled back in time a half-century. Of course Doug was there, like always, though he was then 74. He told us the stories. We loved the place. We subsequently immortalized Doug’s in FLEX and Muscle & Fitness, naming it “the best old-school gym.” In our wake, others trudged up those same creaky steps. There were news stories and short films. Triple H trained there before a WrestleMania. There’s a glossy photo book, Doug’s Gym: The Last of Its Kind. There’s a Wikipedia page. It seemed it would always be and always the same, but, of course, the world around it couldn’t stop. When the once-desolate neighborhood finally grew trendy, landlords wanted to develop the property. America’s oldest one-owner gym finally closed its door for good on March 31, 2018. Still, Doug Eidd, now 91, moved some of the weights and benches into his home’s backyard, where he still trains and old members still come to workout, just like old times.
These are photos I took in 2004.
See also: GYMS: A Global Photo Journey