Owner, Red’s Health Club
Education: Holy Cross in New Orleans; Bachelor’s in General Studies from the University of Lafayette. Enlisted in the United State Navy from 1955-59.
Family: Wife, Emma; children Kackie, 46; Tiné, 41; Mark, 48; Stanley, 35.
Mentor: My Uncle Harold, my seventh grade school teacher Francis Murphy; Joe Gold; Bill Pearl.
In a state known for its laissez faire culture and celebration of rich food and hearty drink, it is rare to find someone fully committed to health in Louisiana. Red Lerille is that person. For nearly 50 years, his enthusiasm for health is evident in his lifestyle, his family’s involvement in the business and through his more than 16,000 members who turn to Red’s as their place to get fit.
The health club business is all Red Lerille has ever been interested in. He first started working out as an eight-year-old in his garage using homemade gym equipment. When he joined the Navy, he joined the wrestling team; he returned and entered body building competitions. In 1963, Lerille opened Red’s Health Club in Lafayette with $250 borrowed from his father. He has since grown his gym into a world-renown 200,000 square foot facility offering three indoor tennis courts, racquetball courts, indoor and outdoor swimming and everything else one can imagine in a top-class gym. His 200 employees have helped make Red’s a household name in Acadiana and a well-respected company in his field.
He credits his success with making an improvement to the gym every month. At 75 years old, Lerille still does strength-training four times a week, rides his bicycle everyday and has an active role in running the business. If that isn’t enough, he opens Red’s at 3:00 a.m. and attends mass at 7 a.m. every morning.
He recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry, a media source for professionals in the fitness industry.
What was the athletic club scene in the 1950s? There was the New Orleans Athletic Club, which had little weight equipment, the Lee Circle YMCA, and Joe Gold, who started Gold’s Gym, also opened AA Jacks Gym in 1953 on Gravier.
What was your first weight machine? I put up a bar to do chin-ups and put two posts in the backyard to do dips. My first weight machine was a pulley machine. I made a toe-raise machine and calf machine out of wood.
What is an effective workout routine? Weight training makes a phenomenal difference and shapes you. The sooner you start and more often you do it, the better your life will be.
Why did you decide to stay in Lafayette? Because Lafayette is the nicest town in the whole world. This is paradise. I feel about Lafayette how I felt about the Westbank of New Orleans when I lived there as a kid.
What music do you listen to when riding your bike? Fats Domino – I’m from New Orleans.
iBERIABANK is proud to present a series of profiles featuring entrepreneurs, volunteer activists and artists whose work is making a difference. As iBERIABANK continues to make significant investments in our community, this special feature focuses on a few individuals who are doing the same.
While we can not include everyone who is inspiring change and worthy of recognition, we are proud to highlight a select few who give tirelessly to our community with their time, energy and passion.