At 40, fitness junkie Robert Elorduy followed his dream to help people in a new way


Personal trainer Robert Elorduy feels he was destined to spread wellness at his Vigor studio — the space he rents once housed the original Dallas Buyers Club. Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones

J. DENTON BRICKER | Contributing Writer

For many years, Robert Elorduy has been preoccupied with fitness. He worked part-time as a personal trainer while also studying massage therapy. He wanted to combine two symbiotic services in his own private gym to offer a unique and friendly environment free of intimidation that inspires people to strengthen their physical fitness; a place without meatheads, weight hogs, grunters and gym rats constantly checking themselves out in the mirror … as if that were possible.

Well, it was. Elorduy quit his job as a probation officer with the Dallas County Juvenile Department to chase his dream.

“It was always my idea to be financially independent while doing something that I really enjoy,” he says.

“I’m still helping people — not so much in a social work kind of way, but if I can help them with their problems while working out or — if I can at least help them to let go of that stress — it’s even better. Stress can affect your ability to burn fat.”

Last summer, Elorduy stumbled onto a building on Swiss Avenue with a “for lease” sign that fit his needs perfectly. He took the plunge: Elorduy signed a lease, worked with designers to renovate the space and opened Vigor Massage and Personal Training. There are two intimate yet separate workout areas full of weight equipment in the front half of the building with a jamming sound system. The back half spa part of the building offers a full shower, bathroom, a two-person infrared sauna and two massage rooms with floating cabinets, trickling water and gentle music. Elorduy lives in the back of the building in a cute split-level apartment connected to the spa.

It was only after he was committed to the space that Elorduy made a startling, serendipitous discovery: His building at 3102 Swiss Ave. used to be home to the original Dallas Buyers Club. That invigorated Elorduy’s relentless drive even more.

“I asked my landlord and he confirmed — he said Ron Woodroof was a nice man and always paid his rent,” Elorduy smiles. “Apparently, my apartment used to be set up as a warehouse for the meds. This was a place of healing, a place where Woodroof tried to prolong their lives. Having my business here is of great significance to me because I am also able to prolong people’s lives with health through resistance training and touch through massage. Ever since that point I feel that I belong here.”

While the majority of his clients are gay men, Vigor is open to all clients — whether they want to workout with Elorduy or bring a buddy.

“Many feel more comfortable working out in a private gym. Some people don’t really know what to do in a gym and some just prefer the privacy,” he says. “When you can hear people talking at larger gyms, I know that if I am distracted by that my client is also most likely distracted.”

When Elorduy turned 40 last year, he decided that his body would be in the best shape of his life not only for his own personal achievement but to prove the goal is reachable at any age.

“Cardio alone is not going to keep fat off,” he says. “You have to incorporate resistance training into your workout whether it be bodyweight or lifting weights otherwise once you stop eating a low carb diet the fat will return.”

Elorduy recommends 12 sets for the larger muscle groups (back, chest, legs) and six to eight sets for smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps) with sets of abs and calves in between. He also describes nutrition as one of the most important parts of the process when really wanting to develop and transform the body.

“When doing a strenuous workout you use energy from fat stores, liver stores, and muscles stores, especially when resistance training is involved,” he says. “You want to allow muscle to rebuild itself and the only way to do that is to put all of that energy back into the body, via protein and carbs [simple sugars]. If you can’t eat it, drink it.”

Though he highly recommends post-workout protein supplemental shakes he does not recommend steroids or other dangerous substances.

“Know your own body because we are all different and some of us have better genetic inclinations to have better body parts than others. Abs are genetic too; some guys just have ripped abs and others really have to work for that six pack and this can apply to back, shoulders, or legs. If it looks too good to be true, it could very well be due to steroids,” Elorduy says.

Elorduy’s synergistic regimen is designed to flush lactic acid out of the body with massage. (Lactic acid can cause symptoms like exhaustion or nausea.) But he also like to dispel myths about exercise.

“Fat is going to come off where it is going to, wherever that is; you can’t exercise fat away from a specific area,” he says. “You’re going to lean out at the top and the bottom before your middle. For men, the mid-section is where the body needs fat and where it will fight you for it.” Though he has a muscular body, Elorduy claims even he struggles with motivation from time to time.

“Though I consider myself a hard worker, I feel lazy too sometimes and that’s OK,” he says. “I don’t always want to get up and workout but I still do it!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 13, 2015.