On my first trip to Doug’s Gym in downtown Dallas, I climbed a sagging wooden staircase to find a rundown old gym with peeling paint, sagging tin ceiling, and ancient equipment. It was dilapidated to the point of beauty. I had avoided gyms for most of my life, but I joined this one for its themes of memory, loss, and mortality, which have preoccupied me in my photography.
Doug Eidd,(as in “hide”), eighty-seven years old at the time, owned and managed the gym since it opened in 1962. He worked ten-hour days, six days a week, running the gym and training members who sought out his considerable expertise. In his heyday he worked with professional boxers and bodybuilders, but in recent years, people of all backgrounds and body shapes joined the gym for its unpretentious atmosphere.
Besides giving advice on exercises, Doug smoked cigars all day, ate herring from a tin can at lunchtime, and discussed his theories on the decline of the world order to anyone who would listen. He was a character from another era.
Facing increased rent and declining health, Doug reluctantly closed the gym on short notice in the spring of 2018. It came as a shock to all of us, but we knew it was inevitable. I returned every day for several weeks as the gym was dismantled and its pieces hauled away. Doug also came to tie up loose ends and help pack up. On the very last day Doug, who had spent most of his life in this gym, turned out the old fluorescent lights and turned over the key to the landlord. I always knew Doug’s Gym was a time capsule waiting to be buried. The time had finally come.
visit the website normdiamondphoto.com to purchase a signed, advanced copy of Doug’s Gym. The book will otherwise not be available in the US until February 2020. Along with the book, you can purchase a limited edition 8 x 10 inch print.