No bodybuilding pilgrimage to California would be complete without a stop at Mecca (Venice). In this episode, Rich Gaspari heads back to where he trained at the pinnacle of his bodybuilding career, Gold’s Gym.
After a series of corporate ownerships, has The original Mecca of bodybuilding been relegated to “health club” status, or does it still retain the hardcore element synonymous with its name?
Beyond the “tour” of the gym – it’s really an enormous, incredibly equipped, place – Rich takes us on a trip down memory lane of his experiences in the gym when he was a regular there, and speaks with gym members about the new memories being created there today.
This is a unique stop for you on the hunt because of its a coming home of sorts. For a while, this was your home gym.
RG: “Yes, it was. I trained for my Olympia’s here. A lot of memories. Back in the day, this was the ultimate hardcore gym. Anywhere you went after Gold’s was a step-down.”
What made Gold’s such an attraction for bodybuilders?
RG: “Everyone was there. You could be training at Gold’s right next to two Mr. Olympias, three Mr. Universes, Mr. America’s, Mr. World, USA champions, plus rock stars, actors, sports celebrities….. It was really motivating. Plus, all the Weider photoshoots were done at Gold’s after all the big shows. We’d all get flown out to LA after the big shows. It was an honor. If you were doing a Weider photoshoot at Gold’s gym you were doing something right.”
What about now? Does Gold’s still hold the top spot?
RG: “It’s hard to say. It’s definitely up there, and there are some great champions training there today. Arnold even trains there! Some of the regulars have been going for 30 years. But it’s corporate owned now. It’s still got great photos on the walls of all the great athletes that trained there, and it’s still a draw when you’re in Venice, but it’s not the Gold’s that flourished at the peak of bodybuilding’s golden era.”
Why do you think that is?
RG: “It’s not so much the gym’s fault as it is the fact that people disbursed. Other great gyms opened across America and people moved. Jobs, family, opportunities, people had to move and find their hardcore gym in other places. That’s not to say Gold’s still doesn’t occupy Hardcore’s top spot, it’s just not so much by the landslide it used to.”