What started in 1965 as a small gym in Venice Beach, California, has since grown into the most iconic fitness company in the world: Gold’s Gym.
Over the past 55 years, Gold’s Gym has evolved into a global brand with more than 600 locations across six continents with an impressive clientele.
Bodybuilding greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu trained at the original Gold’s Gym, which later became the most legendary gym in the world.
The current owner, Ranier Schaller, of RSG Group, acquired the gym in August 2020 after the previous owners declared bankruptcy during the Covid-19 pandemic and California was almost completely shut down.
At the time of writing, Schaller, 53, his girlfriend Christiane Schikorsky, 44, their children Aaron Schaller and Finja Sghikorsky are missing after their twin-engine turboprop crashed into the ocean off the coast of Costa Rica.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been training at Gold’s Gym since 1968, shortly after arriving in the United States from Austria for the first time
Rainer Schaller is listed as “Founder, Owner and CEO of the RSG Group,” a conglomerate of 21 fitness, lifestyle and fashion brands that operates in 48 countries and has 41,000 employees, either directly or through franchises
Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves Golds Gym in Venice Beach after his early workout routine in 2021, The Terminator star said he prefers to work out at the gym in the morning and at home in the evening
During the golden age of bodybuilding in the 1970s, Gold’s in Venice Beach earned a reputation as the ‘bodybuilding mecca’.
When the gym opened, founder Joe Gold charged $40 for a $40 annual membership to Gold’s Gym. An early member shared: Men’s Journal: “However, if you didn’t have the money—and a lot of them didn’t—Joe would let you slide. Hell, at one point or another, he supported half of those guys. I paid them to show up and do nothing.’
According to an LA Magazine article, Gold was from Boyle Heights in Los Angeles and was “eye candy in Mae West’s nightclub act.” In 1992, the New York Times attributed Gold to “the development of the modern gym.”
Gold sold the company in 1973 and later regretted it when physical fitness became mainstream. When it first opened its doors, there were only three gyms in the entire Los Angeles area.
In 1981 there were over 5,000 Gold’s Gyms in the United States. The franchise spread to Canada in 1985.
In response to the boom, Gold established World Gym, close to its original location, even driving Arnold Schwarzenegger away from Gold’s Gym. Schwarzenegger had worked at Gold’s since 1968, shortly after arriving in the US from Austria for the first time.
Gold passed away in 2004 at the age of 82. Since its ownership, the gym has been owned by several people.
Schwarzenegger said in a 2019 Men’s health function, that he still frequented Gold’s Gym, especially for his morning workouts. But he preferred to do his evening workouts at home.
The gym’s current location in Venice, along Hampton Drive, is literally around the corner from its original location, which was along Pacific Avenue.
In addition to bodybuilders, the gym has also become home to hundreds of Hollywood celebrities, including Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Pierce Brosnan, and Bruce Springsteen.
Because of its cachet, Gold’s has been featured in such films and TV shows as ‘The Longest Yard’, ‘The Dr. Phil Show’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Hogan Knows Best’.
According to a former trainer, the gym started working with non-bodybuilding celebrities in November 1981 when legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson became a regular as he used fitness to get over a difficult breakup.
Lou Ferrigno looks fit as he rides his bike through the streets of Santa Monica, Ca en route to a workout at Gold’s Gym
Actor Josh Brolin is another regular at the Gold’s Gym location in Venice
Trainer Ray Kybartas said: Illustrated Sports in 1996: ‘One of Johnny Carson’s lawyers came up to me. He had broken up with his girlfriend and was depressed. He wanted to get back in shape. He offered me $25 an hour to help him. It sounded like a good deal.’
He continued: ‘He turned out to be the perfect client, because he was so depressed that he had nothing to do but exercise. Within about six weeks, he was going to business meetings and pulling up his shirt to show his washboard belly.”
Kybartas also said: “He asked other lawyers to feel his muscles. Soon I was working with about half of the entertainment lawyers in Hollywood.”
When WWE superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to training in 2014 after a period of rest, he teamed up with legendary bodybuilder Ric Drasin at Gold’s. It was Drasin who came up with the gym’s iconic logo.
Former head of talent relations for WWE, Jim Ross wrote in: his blog at the time Austin had told him that “training at Gold’s in Venice wasn’t for everyone.”
John Cena said on Twitter in 2015 that while working at Gold’s in 1999, he was convinced by a friend to attend a professional wrestling school.
John Cena, another professional wrestler, said on Twitter in 2015 that while working at Gold’s in 1999, he was convinced by a friend to attend a professional wrestling school.
Hollywood A-lister Jessica Alba credits her time working with personal trainer Ramona Braganza to help her lose weight after pregnancy.
Braganza said the secret to the weight loss was “the dreaded dropout.”
Before becoming Bennifer again, J-Lo was seen with her then-fiance Alex Rodriguez outside Gold’s in Venice Beach in 2018 when the pair went for a late night workout.
Scaller’s girlfriend shared a photo of herself in a jet on her social media. It is not clear if this is the same plane that crashed
At the time of writing, the gym’s current owner, Rainer Scaller, is still missing. His plane was being flown by a 66-year-old Swiss pilot when it suddenly disappeared Friday afternoon before parts of the plane were found in the ocean on Saturday.
Authorities have since recovered the bodies of an adult and a child near the wreckage, about 20 miles from Limon airport – where the plane was due to land.
The identities of the victims have not yet been released, as the other four people on board are still missing and are feared dead as well.
The plane reportedly lost communication with air traffic around Barra de Parismina, which is near Limon, with Costa Rican authorities warning that the plane went missing a short time later, Security Minister Jorge Torres said.
“Around 6 pm we received a report about a flight from Mexico to Limon airport with five German passengers on board,” Torres said.
The plane was flying at around 275 mph and was about 230 feet in the air when it lost communication.
It is not known what caused the plane to crash.
It was scheduled to land at Juan Santamaria Airport shortly before 7 p.m.
A search was immediately launched but was temporarily suspended due to bad weather, but resumed on Saturday.
Costa Rican authorities said pieces of the twin-engine turboprop plane were found in the water on Saturday after the flight disappeared on Friday.
The aircraft was an Italian-made nine-seat Piaggio P180 Avanti, known for its distinctive profile.