How Sex, Gold’s Gym and Arnold Cemented the Way America Works Out
"When I came back to Gold’s I told everybody, "'You’re not going to believe this guy Arnold Schwarzenegger.' I knew then."
A new long-form Deadspin piece delves into the backstory of America’s relationship with fitness, beginning with the 1960s when doctors, trainers and coaches deemed weightlifting as an activity to frown upon — not one to encourage. Only a few called themselves bodybuilders, and those who did were “ridiculed as narcissistic freaks and taunted with not-so-subtle innuendoes of homosexuality,” Deadspin’s David Davis writes.
While Kennedy was the one who penned a Sports Illustrated article called “The Soft American,” which encouraged “the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans,” nothing communicates pure pump like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It was Arnold, of course, who brought his chiseled physique into mainstream consciousness and helped make working out something that produces desirable results. But Davis illustrates through dozens of interviews with the country’s first fitness fanatics that Arnold couldn’t have done it without Joe Gold and the very first Gold’s Gym, located in Southern California.
“Gold’s became the essence of what a real gym should be in the modern era. It’s a training gym for everybody: Fat, skinny, old, young, buff, sick, wheelchair, male, female, whatever,” fitness journalist and former competitive bodybuilder Jerry Brainum told Davis. “Before, gyms were esoteric places where these strange Muscleheads hung out. Nobody thinks like that anymore. Gold’s is the place that originally brought weight training and re-shaping your body to the masses. That’s why it’s the mecca.”
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