About $500,000 was approved by the L.A. Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners at its August 5 meeting in order to refurbish and renovate the interior and the exterior of the iconic Muscle Beach weightlifting pen at Venice Beach.
The work will include: 1) replacement of the existing doors with new updated doors, 2) installation of new fitness equipment, 3) interior and exterior lighting improvements, 4) installation of new rubber matting tiles throughout the facility, 5) general cleaning and maintenance including painting, pressure washing of the facility, and installation of a new Muscle Beach sign.
During the RAP discussion, Commissioner Joe Halper asked about the expenditure, which seemed to be presented as a new request. He remembered that the board had approved something similar.
Halper was right. According to RAP board report 19-076 in 2019, ThermoLife International donated $500,000 through the Los Angeles Park Foundation for the refurbishment of the Weight Pen at Muscle Beach.
According to that agreement, the money would cover new and improved weightlifting equipment, fabricate and install new roll-up steel doors at the MBV building, install new wire-mesh fencing with new fence posts and rails and replace rubber flooring throughout the Weight Pen. In other words, the exact same improvements the new money is supposed to cover.
Signs were to be installed to recognize ThermoLife’s donation and would remain in place through July 1, 2027, and the bronze dedication plaque would remain in place in perpetuity (board report 19-076).
Halper was told by RAP Staffer Cathie Santo Domingo that “some specifications were not completed, and the fencing did not comply with the Coastal Commission.”
Halper asked, “We’re redoing the existing improvements that were made?” He was told that was correct.
CTN contacted RAP Public Information Officer Ros e Watson to ask what had happened to the original grant. Today (Wednesday) she responded: “The Department has no comment at this time.”
CTN also contacted ThermoLife, but did not hear back before posting time.
Venice Beach issues continued to be addressed at the RAP meeting, when $270,000 was approved to pay Los Angeles Sanitation for additional refuse collections for 2021-22. “This transfer of appropriations will allow LASAN to provide various additional refuse collections services for Venice Beach and other high-need RAP sites without delay,” the commissioners were told.
RAP President Sylvia Patsaouras said the board had received communications about noise at the new Veterans Gardens at the Palisades Recreation Center and asked the staff to investigate and make a presentation.
Patsaouras also encouraged the RAP Board to partner with LAUSD and UCLA to go forward with an idea from Halper.
In many parts of the city, there is not a park within a half-mile of residents. Halper has suggested that LAUSD look at greening some of the asphalt on its campuses, so that when school is not in session, it could serve as an ad hoc park.
Muscle Beach Will Be Available to Los Angeles residents
Many people have heard about Muscle Beach Venice but may be unaware that the original weightlifting site was located in Santa Monica about two miles to the north.
The Venice Beach “Weight Pen” or “Weight Pit” originated in 1951. The SM Muscle Beach closed in 1959, but many people still used the rings and other equipment located on the sand. Then in 1987, the L.A. RAP officially dedicated the Venice Beach location.
Some of the biggest names in bodybuilding and film, including Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane, have all worked out at this location. Before the renovation (and Covid), it was open seven days a week except for major holidays and rainy days.
According to the City website (laparks.org/venice/muscle-beach-venice-outdoor-gym) the Muscle Beach Venice gym offers the membership categories ranging from $200 a year to $10 for a day pass.