TuffStuff Fitness Founder Sherman GriderSherman Grider 1939-2016


The first job ever held by Sherman was in 1957 in Huntington Park, California at the factory owned by Mr. Vic Tanny.  As some may recall, Tanny was one of the true pioneers of the health club industry as we know it today, and at the height of his career, Vic Tanny owned and operated over 200 clubs located in virtually every major city in the United States.  In the next two years, Sherman worked directly under Neil Oberlin, the chief engineer, building the solid steel chrome-plated gym equipment that Vic Tanny used in his nationwide chain of health clubs.  According to Sherman, “My job was in the main machine shop doing modifications, upgrades and new equipment prototyping for Mr. Oberlin.”  From this work experience, Sherman acquired a wealth of knowledge in the design and manufacturing of gym equipment that would serve and benefit him for the rest of his life.


Upon release from the US Army in 1967, Sherman learned (much to his dismay) that Tanny had since gone out of business.  He tried his hand at several different jobs until finally he was able to land a job with Marcy Gym Equipment Company in Los Angeles, California.  The subsequent years spent working with Marcy were Sherman’s first hands-on opportunity in designing exercise equipment while working directly with and assisting Dr. Walter Marcyan.  Together they worked on new equipment prototyping, engineering blueprinting and tooling development.  This experience gave Sherman his first insight into the working design of multi-stationed gym equipment.


In 1971, Sherman got a real break when he and his parents opened a small gym equipment manufacturing business called California Gym Equipment Company.  He recalled that, “The business flourished and we had a vast market available to us which consisted of specialty fitness dealers, small independent gyms, colleges and universities, YM-YWCAs, and schools across the country.  Universal Gym Equipment, the largest strength manufacturer at the time, was also our biggest customer.  We supplied all of their barbells, dumbbells, racks, and Olympic Bars needs.”


Sherman gained full control of the business in 1982 and went on to build a multi-million dollar enterprise, which became one of the most recognized names in the fitness equipment industry.  He was responsible for many of the outstanding home gym designs like the MUSCLE Gym Series.  And the most copied home gym in the industry, the Odyssey 5.  Always being at the forefront of cutting edge technology, Sherman introduced FAST-CHECK, the first electro-magnetic computer controlled resistance exercise machine that monitored the speed and strength of an athlete.  Today Sherman’s contributions in the fitness equipment design can be found in practically any brand-name of gym equipment, which is a testament to his design originality and inventiveness.


In 1988, California Gym Equipment Company was sold to Bollinger Industries, based in Irving, Texas.  Sherman stayed on for a short time as a consultant and advisor, but left the company to start Task Industries, making rack stands for the music industry.  It was during this period, Sherman found that his passion and heart still remained in the fitness industry, and was constantly on the lookout for the next generation building materials to use in manufacturing, and new design innovations.


In 1991, the TuffStuff brand-name was born, with the introduction of the industry’s first serious free-weight benches, power racks, half cages and smith machine combos, that were painted in bold Black and White combination.  The creative idea of using “banana cams” and “adjustable pop-pins” on all adjustments was a first, the entire product line became an overnight sensation which took the fitness industry by storm because of its fresh new look and design style.  In a short time the company became phenomenally successful with just the TuffStuff free-weight line.


Sherman knew, however, that in order to sustain and grow the business, it would become inevitable, a necessity for the company to include home gyms, multi-gyms and commercial products in its lineup.  But, unfortunately, due to a “non-compete clause” that Sherman signed when he sold California Gym Equipment Company, this now was an impossibility.


Not long afterwards, as fate would have it, the principals of Bollinger Industries contacted Sherman to see if he was interested in buying his company back.  In a bold move in September 1993, Sherman Grider purchased California Gym Equipment Company back, and placed it under the Task Industries, Inc. banner.  He then embarked on a full scale upgrading the existing CalGym home gym lines, and refining the commercial line, bringing both to a higher quality standard.  Eventually the name of the company changed to TuffStuff Fitness International, Inc.


The rest is history, the success of TuffStuff is largely attributable to its founder, Sherman Grider.  Today TuffStuff produces over 200 residential, light-commercial and full commercial products, which are distributed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and in more than fifty countries.  Before succumbing to cancer, Sherman was a part of the Research and Development Team, lending his expertise in design concepts and refinements, which led to the birth of Bio-Arc Technology.


Equally as important is the loyal dedication and hard work of our employees; many of whom worked for Sherman for 20, 30 and one for 40 years.  TuffStuff is fortunate to have managers and supervisors who head their respective departments, each one with 20+ years of experience.  Not many companies, in any industry, can make such a claim.  This is the legacy of Sherman Grider.