We wrote about Gold’s Gym in Venice a while back. The article centered around its current location at 360 Hampton Drive in Venice.
We noted that the guy and the entire fitness movement began in an earlier building that was home to Gold’s Gym when he first opened it in 1965, but we couldn’t find the location. For some reason while many talk about it, the address of the original Gold’s Gym is never mentioned.
During the lockdowns of 2020 a homeless encampment has grown around the Google offices in Venice which happen to be across the street from the current location of Gold’s. It was actually one of the homeless men there that told me where to find the original.
You can find the original Gold’s Gym at 1006 Pacific Ave in Venice. As you can see in the photos, it’s nothing more than a concrete box. The windows have been covered up with plywood, but the Gold’s Gym sign is still visible.
History was made here. To keep costs down, Joe Gold built homemade equipment. Clients included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Draper.
Draper began bodybuilding at the age of ten. He went on to win a number of titles and landed several acting gigs. He was a movie host on KHJ Channel 9 in Los Angeles from 1964 to 1965. Draper played himself in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. He appeared in the 1967 movie Don’t Make Waves and had a scene with co-star Sharon Tate.
Schwarzenegger needs no introduction. In addition to his stellar bodybuilding accomplishments and film career, he served from 2003 – 2011 as California’s 38th governor. While he has had lead roles in a large number of films, I think he is best known as The Terminator.
What catapulted both Schwarzenegger and Gold’s Gym to fame was a 1977 documentary called Pumping Iron. Unfortunately, by this time the gym had been sold twice and it was then owned by a former member of the gym Ken Sprague.
It was Sprague offering to paint the windows to minimize back light and allow the film crew to mount a lighting grid on the inside ceiling that made Gold’s the primary location for filming Pumping Iron.
A documentary about the world of professional bodybuilding, it centered around the Mr Universe and Mr Olympia competitions. It centered around the competition between Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferringo for the titles.
The filmmakers ran out of funds to finish production and it stalled for two years. Ultimately, Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders featured in the film helped raise funds to complete production, and it was released in 1977. The film became a box office success, making Schwarzenegger a household name. Pumping Iron popularized the bodybuilding culture and launched the fitness craze that is still strong today. You can watch Pumping Iron on Amazon Prime.
If you are into fitness, you’ll want to make sure you swing by the original Gold’s Gym and take a selfie in front of the building where it all started. You can also walk over to the current Gold’s Gym. It looks a lot more modern, but be warned, there are currently a lot of homeless people surrounding the gym.
Other historic body building spots to see in the area are Muscle Beach on the Venice Boardwalk and the original Muscle Beach by the Santa Monica Pier. You might want to scroll through our LA Tourist Attractions category. Or check out our lists of fun things to do and see in Venice Beach and Santa Monica California.
More photos after the break…
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