Young combatants returning from World War II were often rebellious when it came to conventional lifestyles. As a result, they invented a number of new subcultures. For example: surfing, outlaw bikers, beatniks and the development of a new generation of bodybuilders.
The most obvious place bodybuilders settled was Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California. Muscle Beach's popularity led to decades of Bikini Beach movies starring actors like Frankie Avalon.
muscle beach is the birthplace of the fitness boom in the United States that began in 1934 with primarily gymnastics activities on the south side of the Santa Monica Pier. Muscle Beach Venice is the contemporary name of the outdoor weightlifting platform built 18 years after the founding of Muscle Beach in Venice, California, a distinctive neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles.
Today's Muscle Beach was founded in 1963 in Venice, California. Beginning in 2000, a promoter named Joe Wheatley took over organizing events at Muscle Beach and currently hosts three competitions a year, on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. "My goal," says Joe Wheatley, "has always been to carry on the rich heritage of Muscle Beach and make it a community celebration of sun, surf, sand and muscle competition."
Muscle Beach's origins date back to the 1930's when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed exercise equipment just south of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California. Popular gymnastics and acrobatics demonstrations on city machines were regularly held there. A platform on the beach with weight-lifting machines served as a training area for famous bodybuilders such as Vic Tanny, Jack LaLanne and Joe Gold.
In 1989, the City of Santa Monica officially rededicated the original Muscle Beach, and today it serves as an extensive gymnastics training area for gymnasts, acrobats and youth. Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department has continued the core barbell, weightlifting and bodybuilding aspects and events of original Muscle Beach fame at the Venice Weight Training Center. In 1987, the City of Los Angeles officially dedicated "Muscle Beach Venice" and added the word "Venice" in the title to distinguish it from the original "Muscle Beach" in Santa Monica.
Muscle Beach bodybuilding competitions include male and female competitions and a variety of categories, giving the widest possible number of individuals the opportunity to compete and show off their physiques in a fun and supportive environment.
"If you're very serious about developing your body for competition," says Joe Wheatley, "Muscle Beach competitions are perfect for first-time competitors." Over the years, many athletes have had theirs Started a career at Muscle Beach and earned her IFBB Pro card after participating in the NPC. Contrary to what can be an overwhelming experience for an athlete entering an NPC competition for the first time, Muscle Beach shows are designed to give you the opportunity to show your friends your physical development, posing -Learning techniques, gaining confidence and being on stage in a friendly, supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere.”
As much as Joe Wheatley recognizes and respects Muscle Beach's heritage and traditions, he is constantly looking for a way to enhance and develop the entertainment value of MB events. “Since I took over as organizer in 2000, I've worked very hard to re-establish world-renowned interest in Muscle Beach as a tourist destination. After adding Men's Physique and Classic Physique and Wellness, I created some new competition categories to make the whole experience more interesting and fun.”
With that in mind, and recognizing the historic nature of Muscle Beach, Joe Wheatley introduced the Vintage Swimsuit category in 2016. This nostalgic exercise features women wearing one-piece suits as seen in the 1950s, and most commonly a body that likely would have worn them. "I thought about Muscle Beach back then and the swim competitions that were going on back then. So I reached out to Sarah Clark, Miss Muscle Beach 1948, and asked her to help present the Vintage Swimsuit Coverall Awards – further connecting to Muscle Beach's historical legacy.”
"The young women in the Vintage class are very creative and have a lot of fun designing their swimsuits and showing them off to the audience," says Wheatley. It was very well received and we got a lot of television coverage in that category.”
Due to the success of the vintage swimsuit category, Wheatley decided to take it a step further and create a category he calls Angel Bikini. "This category is bikini fitness with the addition of 'shoulder straps' wings." One of the main reasons he added this course was the lack of interest in the women's physique category. In the last three years there have never been more than two participants in the Women's Physique. The first Memorial Day 2023 contest starring Angel Bikini was a huge success. It offers great entertainment value and we look forward to continuing the Vintage Swimsuit and Angel Bikini courses as an integral part of the competitions.