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Gold's Gym and the Golden Era of Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding legend Ric Drasin shares some memories of Muscle Beach back in the day

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Gold's Gym and the Golden Era of Bodybuilding

Many people ask me about the history of Gold’s Gym and how it evolved from the beaches in the 1950’s. There are not many of us left from that era and it’s beginning to get fewer everyday as we are beginning to drop off like flies. However I plan to stick around and share my knowledge of those days with the new breed that are so curious to have knowledge of the history.

I remember coming down to Muscle Beach in the mid 1950’s, which was then Santa Monica right south of the Santa Monica Pier. The sand had a wooden platform that had some free weights and next to it, rings, chinning bars and dip bars. Steve Reeves and many of the earlier bodybuilders would hang out there daily.

Not only was it bodybuilders, but also weight lifters and many gymnasts. Adults and kids of all ages doing the rings, hand balancing and gymnastics flips. It drew quite a crowd. Several times a year they had contests one of them being Mr. and Miss Muscle Beach. Most all-natural bodybuilders back then, as drugs were pretty much not in the scene yet. The female competitors wore one-piece bathing suits but the guys still wore the posing briefs as we see today. The beaches were packed with spectators and there was hardly room to move.

To see a very cool clip of "The Pit" back in the day at Venice Beach, click to the next page.

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