Long before mortgage payments and everything the kids need overtook the pedestrian lifestyle of a Venice Beach musclehead, every saturday a rag-tag lot of us would pile into the finest assortment of junkers $900.00 could buy and headed to World gym to train legs. Those of us who were the first true connoisseurs of prime gym equipment - however crude by today’s standards - knew that the best leg equipment was not at Gold’s Gym - where we all regularly trained, but rather World Gym, a little over a mile north of Venice in Santa Monica. Joe Gold, the original owner of Gold’s Gym, had sold his name sake gym several years earlier and later opened World Gym and the behest of his buddies Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu who didn’t like the zoo-like character Gold’s had taken on.
World gym was the first gym ever built and designed specifically for the competitive bodybuilder. This was a serious place; totally hardcore - no music, no heat, no door on the showers. The entire gym - every single piece of equipment - was designed and hand made by Joe Gold specifically for bodybuilding. You took training seriously at World Gym... Very seriously.
It's so commonplace today to find well quipped gyms with tons of high end equipment. We use these pieces totally unaware of the modern bearings, guides, and pulleys, used in its construction and how they contribute to the smoothness of how you perform your exercise. Smooth operating machines are expected today and no one thinks twice about it.
That wasn’t the case in 1979. To climb into one of Joe’s leg presses back in the day was like climbing into a space ship. Nowhere else on earth could you experience such a smooth concise action at just the right angle. Such a feeling was plucked right from bodybuilding’s Eden by a cantankerous old salt who, probably unwittingly, became an industry icon. So profound was his contribution to iron culture that no pantheon of modern bodybuilding would be complete without Joe Gold.
On any given Saturday morning in the late 70s and early 80s we’d be there. All of us 99 cents short of a buck and barely welcome there because we called Joe’s namesake gym - his ex-gym that had become a zoo feted with freaks - home. We were on a short leash, all of us, and always one inch short of having one foot out the door. Joe’s nature was such that confrontation was never far off and several of us eventually were shown to the curb, yours truly included.
But, until then - for as long as it lasted - this legion of broke muscle heads gorged at will on the greatest bodybuilding experience of or lives. The only problem is that we had to wait until now to realize what we had. What I would do for just one more Saturday morning leg party at World Gym...