Muscle Beach in Venice, Los Angeles. An odd scene for heavily muscled, tanned men and women, who lift weights, practice kickboxing and athletically swing themselves around in rings up in the air. All the while, both local inhabitants and the many curious tourists follow their every move.
The very idea of establishing an outdoor ‘playground’ for muscled men and women originated further up the coast in Santa Monica in the beginning of the 1930s.
On March 10 1933, an earthquake hit Santa Monica, which left the majority of the schools and sports facilities in the area in ruins. At that time, the unemployment rate in USA had escalated following the Great Depression, and therefore president Franklin Roosevelt implemented a number of reforms known as ‘The New Deal’. One of the reforms’ initiatives was to set up fitness equipment by Santa Monica Pier, where the public could do gymnastics, acrobatics, weight lifting and thus stay in shape.
In 1958, Muscle Beach in Santa Monica received its fatal blow. Five weight lifters, including two members of the American Olympic Team, were accused of raping two young women in an apartment close to the beach. The authorities had had enough, and during the course of one single night, all the fitness equipment at Muscle Beach was torn down.
Muscle Beach in Venice was officially opened in 1987, and thereby took over from the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. To this day, body builders hang out in the middle of a crowd of surfers, skateboarders, street artists and hippies.