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For the short documentary film, see Muscle Beach (film).
Muscle Beach
Muscle Beach sign.jpg
Location Los Angeles County, California
Founded 1934
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Muscle Beach refers to the exclusive Santa Monica location of the birthplace of the physical fitness boom of the 20th century, started in 1934 with predominantly gymnastics activities on the south side of the Santa Monica Pier.[1] Muscle Beach Venice is the contemporary title of the outdoor weightlifting platform constructed in Venice, Calif., 18 years after Muscle Beach was established. Muscle Beach Venice was officially titled in 1987 by the City of Los Angeles with the distinguishing name 'Venice' added to the location to honor the original Santa Monica site.[2] The contemporary Muscle Beach Venice is located two blocks north of Venice Boulevard on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, California. Santa Monica's "Muscle Beach" landmark derives its name from the growing local and national reputation of gymnastics and strength athletes who congregated at what was first known simply as the "Santa Monica Beach Playground", with the 'muscle' term gaining momentum by 1940. The 1940 opening of the first of an eventual nationwide chain of weightlifting gyms by famed pioneer gym chain operator, Vic Tanny, only two city blocks from Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is commonly considered a key contributor to the increasing attraction of bodybuilders and strength lifters to Muscle Beach from across the nation. By the 1950s Muscle Beach established worldwide fame and helped to popularize and bring legitimacy to physical culture with acrobatics and bodybuilding.[3] and contribute to a nationwide health and fitness movement continuing into the 21st century.

Original Muscle Beach[edit]

A man performs a handstand on a high bar at the original Muscle Beach, 1955.

Muscle Beach dates back to the 1930s when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed exercise equipment immediately south of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California.[4][5] Popular gymnastic and acrobatic exhibitions were routinely held there on city-provided equipment. A platform on the beach with weight lifting equipment provided a workout area for such famous bodybuilders as Vic Tanny, Jack LaLanne, and Joe Gold.[6] Muscle House was a "crashpad" just off the beach where many bodybuilders would live for cheap rent and convenient access to the beach. It was a common waypoint for bodybuilders such as Chet Yorton, Steve Reeves, Vince Edwards, Jack Delinger, George Eiferman, and Dave Draper.

The site of Muscle Beach Venice has inherited the modern fame and attention that was initially generated by Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, as the tumbling platform from this earlier facility had been removed by the City of Santa Monica due to difficulties in the day-to-day maintenance and supervision of the original Muscle Beach site in 1959. Yet the original regulars of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica continued to congregate at the world-famous setting with an emphasis on gymnastics events, acrobatics and adagio training and performances.

In 1989, the City of Santa Monica officially rededicated the original Muscle Beach and today it serves gymnasts, acrobats and youth with an extensive gymnastics training area. Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department has continued the primary barbell, weightlifting and bodybuilding aspects and events of the original Muscle Beach fame at the Venice weight pen. In 1987, the City of Los Angeles officially dedicated "Muscle Beach Venice" with the added word of 'Venice' in the title to distinguish it from the original "Muscle Beach" in Santa Monica.[2]

Muscle Beach Venice[edit]

Muscle Beach, Venice

After the closing of the original Muscle Beach, bodybuilding attention shifted south to the somewhat lesser-known Venice Beach Weight Pen, operated by the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department. A small spartan weight pen was built near Windward Avenue in 1952, later replaced by the large current facility (33°59′08″N 118°28′21″W / 33.9854557°N 118.4725901°W / 33.9854557; -118.4725901) during a complete renovation and Muscle Beach Venice redevelopment effort in 1990, which sports a huge concrete barbell on the roof and bleachers for spectators.

Today it is an open playground with a gated area that encloses weight lifting equipment, the second area is a sand box with gymnastic, rope climbing, and acrobatic bars.

Muscle Beach, August 2012

By extension, Muscle Beach Venice refers also to a high concentration of weightlifting and fitness businesses in the area. Dave Draper, Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Trejo, and Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams used to be regulars, among many famous bodybuilders and actors who have trained there. Chet Yorton trained at Muscle Beach Venice in the early to mid-1960s to prepare for his victory over Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe contest.

An episode of the television series Baywatch featured Hulk Hogan training on Muscle Beach Venice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pool, Bob (2 October 1999). "Santa Monica Shows Off a Restored Muscle Beach". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ a b Harvey, Steve (1 June 1987). "A Banished Beach Works Out in Venice". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Harvey, Steve (30 March 1986). "Mussel or Muscle : Whatever You Call It, It's a Beach That's Not Forgotten by Its Many Devotees". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ Knapp, Dan (28 November 2005). "New Acquisition Pumps USC Up". USC News. 
  5. ^ Matzer, Marla (22 February 1998). "The Venus of Muscle Beach". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Chowder, Ken (1 November 1998). "Muscle Beach". Smithsonian. ISSN 0037-7333. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_Beach — Please support Wikipedia.
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2065 news items

LA Magazine (blog)

LA Magazine (blog)
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:26:15 -0800

In 1946, Dave Barham bought a tiny concession stand across from the original Muscle Beach. An astute observer of beach culture, he saw the need for snacks that were ideal for strolling. Using his mother's corn bread recipe, he created the batter ...
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:46:44 -0800

Hungry zombies are always looking for a good meal and they'd find lots of flesh to eat at Muscle Beach. The walkers won't be able to help themselves when they see all the scantily clad men and women working out on the beach. It'll be like a buffet with ...

Westword (blog)

Westword (blog)
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 04:45:00 -0800

Muscle Beach (Playing Sunday 01/04/15 Seventh Circle Music Collective): It's too hard to predict something like Dimebag's situation. Trying to be aware of the surroundings and madness that can take place at shows will make the fans and bands safer.

Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Barbara Independent
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:56:15 -0700

As far as Steve Morris knows, there is no formal event celebrating the 80th birthday of Muscle Beach, site of a long-running spectacle (1934-1958) that glamorized strong and agile bodies on the beach at Santa Monica. Morris calls it “the birthplace of ...
Napa Valley Register
Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:45:00 -0800

He put out his hand – Hunter recalls this vividly, even 30 years later – and gave Hunter “a strong, firm handshake,” one from muscle beach. “In hindsight, he summoned up all his strength and said thanks for your help, even though he didn't say that ...
Los Angeles Register
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 20:01:50 -0700

Richard Schade of Pasadena impresses the audience with his physique at the Muscle Beach Championship, a body building competition in Venice Beach on Labor Day. Shade took first place in the open men's middleweight category. ANA VENEGAS, STAFF ...


Thu, 11 Dec 2014 03:05:09 -0800

Sea World added 19 acres with Muscle Beach, a new Whale tank and a new children's area. Knott's was also growing. They added $10 million worth of new attractions in 1987. The family friendly Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, a new 3D theater show, and rehab ...

Yahoo Sports

Yahoo Sports
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:45:03 -0700

RIO DE JANEIRO – James Thomas came to Brazil on a budget. He's staying with friends he met through a study abroad program in Denmark, and he's sleeping on the floor in one rented apartment. But he's from Santa Monica and, like so many Southern ...

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