National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum & Institute

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Clyde Emrich

2013 NFHOF Inductee

“Healthy American Fitness Leader”

Born: April 6, 1931

Hometown: Lake Bluff, Illinois


Clyde Emrich born April 6, 1931 and in 1946, at the age of 15, he began lifting weights. With no one to train him, he turned to Strength and Health magazines for guidance, building his own weight training equipment by utilizing homemade cans of sand and cement and cable-chest expanders.

His intense barbell training paid off with several athletic achievements, such as winning his high school wrestling championship and completing the 100-yard dash in 10.2 seconds. He went on to enjoy an incredibly long and successful competitive weightlifting career that stretched from 1948 to 1968, continuing his tradition of self-coaching.

In 1963, Chicago Bear’s Coach Halas invited Clyde to meet with him. He asked Emrich to act as a consultant to the team and to help them set up a basic strength training plan, which Clyde was happy to do. The Bears went on to win the championship that same year, giving further credence to the importance of strength training in maximizing athletic performance. For the next eight years, Emrich continued training with many of the Bears players at the YMCA, lifting competitively himself until 1968, and he continued to act as a consultant to the team. Then, in 1971 the Bears hired him to become their first full-time strength and conditioning coach, making him one of the first strength coaches in the NFL.

He coached in this capacity through 1991. At that point, Clyde moved into administration but in 2005 he to return to the weight room to help the players with their training. In 2008, the franchise honored their longest tenured employee by naming their weight room after him. He has over 49 years of weight lifting experience and continues to be the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Chicago Bears at age 84.

Clyde Emrich, a living legend and pioneering NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach, is a member of the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, the Illinois State Weightlifting Hall of Fame, the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. He is affectionately known as "The Legend", an extremely appropriate tribute to this true Legend in the Field of Strength and Conditioning, who has had such a major impact on the development of the strength and conditioning coaching profession.