Muscle Beach

Muscle BeachMuscle Beach 2

Two years ago, I went for the first time to the famous Santa Monica Pier. It was a nice hot sunny day so my family and I decided to walk along the beach for a bit. As we walked south of the pier, we found what looked to be a child’s playground on steroids. From the sign shown in the picture above, it is now obvious that we have stumbled upon Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach.

Yesterday on February 11th, I went to visit the pier again. This time however I made the conscious decision to sit and enjoy the awkward view of semi naked rippled women and men of all sorts and kinds climb up and down on ropes and rings and such.

This landmark really began when America’s interest in physical fitness was on the rise. In 1934, gymnast activities began to take place in the area known at the time as¬†Santa Monica Beach Playground where the Works Progress Administration had placed several outdoor exercise equipment. Six years later in 1940, Santa Monica Beach Playground became¬†Muscle Beach. This name change was said to be influenced by the first opening of a chain of weightlifting gyms by Vic Tanny. This gym was only located two blocks from the beach and was also home to many famous bodybuilders and strength lifters. Because this beach had a platform for weight lifting equipment (which was the only need of the bodybuilders), many of them would just crash at the Muscle House nearby. No need to travel any further away. Unfortunately in 1959 the platform was removed due to maintenance issues, but the acrobatic equipment remained. This is really what we see today.


  1. David Van

    Very interesting post. I have never been to Santa Monica, or Santa Monica Pier. It’s interesting how you brought up the beginnings of the landmark. I never knew there was a “Muscle Beach” for that matter. You learn new things everyday.

  2. Berenice Contreras

    I have been to Santa Monica multiple times and had no idea there was a “Muscle Beach” there! I must not be very attentive. I enjoyed learning about a landmark in Souther California. I have been to Venice and they have a Muscle Beach Gym, you should look into it! It is really neat. There is always very muscular, body building looking people there!

  3. Kirsten Miller

    Your post about Muscle Beach lends support to McWilliams’ argument about California’s residents being physically superior. He discussed a study in which female college students in California had a larger bone structure and body build than their counter-parts in other states. This is a result of the fact that we live in climate in which we can engage in outdoor activities all year round. We are very health-conscious and driven to remain physically fit, and the fact that we have a region known as Muscle Beach is further proof of this assertion.

  4. Ryan Florence

    I always knew there was a Muscle Beach but I never really thought about there actually being an origin story. I figured that somebody just threw some equipment on the beach and a bunch of people worked out together. The fact that there is actually a history behind it is super interesting. I think this post perfectly catches the idea of California. After all, California is marketed as a place of physically fit and outdoorsy people. Muscle Beach matches this perfectly.

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