By Tommy Chong
I met Arnold Schwarzenegger at Gold’s Gym in 1968, when he first arrived from Europe. He was 21 years old and could barely speak English. He was the talk of the bodybuilding world and had already won his first Mr. Universe title, in the 1967 competition sponsored by NABBA (the National Amateur Body Builders Association)—a contest he would dominate for the next three years.
Steroids and Arnold arrived at the same time, and Arnold took big muscles to new heights. But as big as Arnold was (20-inch arms!), he still managed to lose the Mr. Universe contest sponsored that year by a rival group, the International Federation of Body Builders, to an American named Frank Zane. According to the gossip at Gold’s Gym, Zane was a master in the use of steroids, and it was this skill that propelled him past Arnold for the IFBB title in ’68. But Arnold was a fearsome competitor—as anyone who saw him at the gym could tell you—and the following year he went on to take both Mr. Universe titles.
At the time, Gold’s Gym was really the best men’s club in the world. Eventually, as more and more people flocked to the tiny gym, the success actually turned Joe Gold off. He really just wanted a place where he and his bodybuilding friends could have a good workout without being bothered. He had started the gym in his garage, and his experience as a welder/machinist came in handy building the early dumbbell and barbell sets, along with the benches for presses.
Then the garage became too cramped, so Joe found a storefront in Venice and opened up the first Gold’s Gym. The building is still standing with the original sign, although it’s now a …
Author: High Times / High Times