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Joe (Sydney) Gold, the body-builder who founded Gold’s Gym, was born in Los Angeles on this date in 1922, the son of a junk dealer. He began body-building at age 12, and took himself to Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, a gathering place for stuntmen, acrobats, and body-builders, as a teenager. He served in the Merchant Marine in both World War II and the Korean War and suffered serious injuries in a torpedo attack, which left him in pain for much of his life. In 1954 he joined a line of loin-clothed muscle men in Mae West’s traveling revue, and in 1965 he opened the first Gold’s Gym in Venice, California. Gold innovated in the designs of workout machines, according to Iron Man publisher John Balik, who identified Gold, along with Vic Tanny and Jack LaLanne, as a father of fitness. “Before Joe, a lot of things were designed for the ‘look.’ Joe loved to fiddle and create until he got things that felt right. The gym became, in a sense, a laboratory for his ideas on how to make pieces of equipment better.” Gold sold the Gold’s Gym chain in 1970. He launched World Gym in Santa Monica in 1977, and ran it until his death in 2004 at 82.
“I had no money and [Gold] let me train in his gym for free. He was the first person to give me advice. He also gave everyone nicknames. I kept thinking he would call me, ‘Hey, Big Arms!’ or ‘Hey, Monster!’ ” -Arnold Schwarzenegger