Where Muscle Was Born

“When I think of Los Angeles I think of movies, sex, cars” – Donald Trump, The Apprentice

With movies and sex come sexy bodies. So where do those sexy bodies come from? Working-out at Gold’s Gym Hollywood was enough to open the floodgates of all my body image problems. Sure, it was located at a drearier part of Santa Monica Blvd, but Gold’s Gym is Gold’s Gym and add Hollywood to that and you’ve got the A-list place with A-list movie stars sculpting their A-list bodies. No, I didn’t see Keannu Reeves waving like he does at the infomercial. But there were enough gorgeous faces and even more gorgeous bodies to remind me how fat I suddenly seemed to me and how ugly I suddenly seemed to look. At the gym floor, beauty couldn’t be skin deep. It had to be there–out and proud. So I stayed at the selectorized machines trying my best to look good. Sometimes I’d glance at the Free Motion circuit corner but that muscled blond was enough to drive me back to my own corner. A quick shower and I was outta there. The next day I was worked-out at the Downtown club. People seemed more normal, by Mt. Olympus standards. A couple of days later and I was comfortable enough to actually enjoy working out. Since Downtown was the financial district, it was more of an office crowd working-out there and less busy. As for the original Gold’s Gym that opened in 1969 in Venice Beach, I just took a quick look see, bought a couple of apparel and skeddadled out of there. There was just too much testosterone. Heck, even the women seemd ready to bench-press me. Stepping in though was like going into the heart of Gold’s Gym —pure muscle, serious-no-frills workout. I was in the midst of history.

Beach, Bodies, Beautiful

Bench-pressing under the glare of the sun? Power squats in trunks? Bulging biceps deflecting the sun’s rays? Is that saliva dripping down your chin? This is The Pit, part open-air, part covered pumping station of free weights and cybex in a patch of fenced-in sand at Muscle Beach in Venice Beach or is it Venice Beach in Muscle Beach or Muscle Beach by Venice Beach. Whatever. There were loads of muscle, a long strip of beach, and tons and tons of attitude.

The Pit

The Pit

I had just walked a couple of blocks from the original Gold’s Gym. After my Hollywood workout, I didn’t dare even think of stacking some weight at the first outpost of weightlifting. If Gold’s Gym Hollywood makes you feel like an ugly dork, you’re gonna feel like an ugly, undersized dork at Gold’s Gym Venice Beach. This after all, was the birthplace of Gold’s Gym. The muscles on all the guys and girls working-out was enough to provide the protein requirements of a small African nation. So I just did a quick tour and bought a couple of shirts to show-off back home. You know, “Hey I was at Gold’s Gym Venice Beach. (Grunt). Yeah! (more grunts).”

Seeing all that muscle made me spicy Louisiana Andaouille with fries as I enjoyed the Ocean Front Boardwalk sights of shirtless hunks and vavaboom blondes walking and skating. It was a Wednesday so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Venice Beach with its laid back and bohemian character seemed so far-removed from the typical glamour of LA. It was shabby but chic and totally unpretentious. It had to be. I was lugging around like a baby in my arms, an orange Marmot tent that I had bought at REI Outdoor Shop near the Third St. Promenade at Santa Monica.

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