Gold’s Gym was popularized in part because of it’s prominence in the movie Pumping Iron. In the pre-Gold’s Gym 1950s, bodybuilders from Santa Monica and surrounding areas congregated at the outdoor weight area at the original muscle beach in Santa Monica near the pier. In addition to the acrobatic area there was a wooden platform with free weights along with pullup and dipping bars.
According to Wikipedia:
“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.”
…which leads you to believe that in 1959 the tumbling area of the original Muscle Beach had been shut down “due to difficulties in the day-to-day maintenance and supervision”.
However according to Phyical Culture Study:
“Following allegations of sexual misconduct by a small cohort of bodybuilders, a decision was taken by the Santa Monica City Council to pull weights from the beach. Bodybuilders were seen as an anti-social group and the decision to force them from the beaches and into small indoor gyms hardly helped matters.”
So, in 1959, were the weight and tumbling areas both shut down due to bodybuilder misconduct? Or is the Wikipedia article whitewashing the real reason?
After the shut down, bodybuilders started going to nearby gyms and in 1965 Joe Gold cut through the bull and created Gold’s Gym. By the time Pumping Iron was filmed and even earlier than when the above below was taken, Joe had sold the gym and Ken Sprague was the current owner. It was the go-to gym for Joe Weider’s Muscle Builder and Power magazine photo shoots.