1960/early 70s Gold’s Gym Notes

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Notes from Men’s Journal Article on Gold’s Gym

  • Ken Waller was Gold’s Gym Manager
  • Ed Giuliani quote: “I’d go to the beach, and they’d give me the wolf whistle, guys on a blanket wanting to fight,” “Nobody liked guys with the lumps back then. They thought we were all morons and fairies.”
  • Ed Giuliani: “I always liked to walk behind Arnold in the street so I could check out people’s reactions as we passed. They’d point at him and sneer: ‘God, look at that fucking freak. What a clown.'”
  • Gyms in the 1960s were scarce and vile, most of them unfit to train a dog. When Gold’s opened its doors on Pacific Avenue in Venice, there were only three other clubs serving 7 million people in Los Angeles, and one of them, the Dungeon, was so unsavory that even powerlifters left their wallets at home.
  • Lou Ferrigno carried caskets at a mortuary in Brooklyn and lived with his parents well into his 20s.
  • “Joe Gold built a two-story bulwark of concrete blocks that had all the amenities of a morgue – a place exclusively for hardcore lifters, many of them friends of his from boyhood. The gym was big for its day, 30 feet wide and 100 deep, and consisted of a single, large, double-height space, unlike the rabbit-hutch layouts of other gyms. Up a narrow staircase was a smallish loft where members could change and shower after workouts or dose themselves with the first, crude anabolics.”
  • The gym’s windows were sealed, there was no sign on the facade, and Gold usually kept the front door locked, lest any casual lifters happen by.
  • Ric Drasin: “You’d go in the back door, which was always propped open – that way we’d get the breeze from the ocean,” “You could park back there, but most of the guys walked. They could barely afford rent, let alone gas.”
  • Gold’s had a bank of skylights in the roof.
  • Ric Drasin: “There was no heat or A/C, and you could really freeze your ass there in the winter.”
  • Joe Gold charged $40 a year.
  • Ric Drasin: $40 a year. “If you didn’t have the cash, though – and a lot of them didn’t – Joe would let you slide,” “Hell, at some point or another, he supported half those guys. Paid ’em to show up and do nothing.”
  • Joe Gold hadn’t installed a phone. (There was a pay phone near the door, but it was for members’ use only.)
  • When Joe sold the gym, “a number of his friends and members, though, defected to other gyms, and it wasn’t long before the two men who bought the place, bleeding money, started looking to unload it or shut it down. Enter Ken Sprague, showman nonpareil and the first to hatch a business plan for gyms. In two years, he would turn Gold’s into a cash machine – and look the other way when some of his brand-name bodybuilders turned it into a roaring whorehouse,”
  • by 1972, Sprague had enough money in the bank to make a down payment on Gold’s. “Anyone could have bought it for 15 grand up front, but no one had the cash or the desire,” he says. “All I wanted was to keep the place going. There was nowhere else I could even imagine training.”
About Yegor Khzokhlachev 651 Articles
Gorilla at Large

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