The legendary Muscle Beach in Santa Monica has been around since the early 20ths century, providing locals the space to unleash their inner “Terminator,” and giving the city a reputation for being perfectly tanned and toned. The historic park has long been a celebrity hot spot, too. So on your next visit, stop by Muscle Beach in Santa Monica for a quick pump, or bring the kids for some good-old-fashioned playground exercise.
New Deal, New Muscles
In 1934, as part of The New Deal, President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed exercise equipment just south of the Santa Monica pier, encouraging Americans to get out and get to work. Featuring regular, city-sponsored acrobatic exhibitions, the beach became a popular gathering spot for serious weightlifters, gymnasts and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Fun For Everyone
In the beginning, the park included all kinds of bars and rings for weightlifters and gymnasts, but it also offered more low-key forms of entertainment—ping pong nets and chess tables. Santa Monica citizens were encouraged to exercise both their biceps and their brains.
“The Father of Natural Bodybuilding,” Chet Norton, trained at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and ultimately defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe contest. The beach was also a popular destination for famed bodybuilders Vic Tanny, Jack LaLanne, and Joe Gold.
Fleurette “Joy” Crettaz founded Muscle House in the 1950s, as a sanctuary for up-and-coming bodybuilders to live and train. For just $100 per month, athletes could receive room, board and all-day access to Santa Monica’s sunny, sandy, weightlifting paradise.
Modern Muscle Beach
Today, Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is run by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Fully restored and refurbished in the 90s, the outdoor gymnasium is accompanied by tennis, basketball and handball courts, as well as a children’s play area.