Unless you live under a rock, you know that the CrossFit Games are kicking into high gear in Los Angeles this weekend (actually, Carson, but just say LA... unless you're talking with a local).
There are a lot of reasons to make the pilgrimage to SoCal for the Games, but one of the most overlooked is the chance to experience some of the roots of our movement.
Sure, bodybuilders, strongmen, powerlifters, and weightlifters all have their own unique subcultures, but those of us practicing open source fitness- we steal from all of them.
And while in the Los Angeles area, you've got to check out some of the roots of bodybuilding at Muscle Beach.
Tip- today's Muscle Beach is in Venice Beach. There's an awesome area near the old Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, near the pier... but you can't bench press there.
As soon as you see "the pen," you're disappointed. It's really a small area, with a bunch of dilapidated equipment. But then you see that while there may only be a few people lifting... tourists passing by stop, take pictures, laugh a little... and then move on.
People watching other people work out? Is there another sport where this happens...?
So then you go to the little shed and pay your $10 entry fee (Pro tip: if you're there with a big group, you can negotiate a little).
Once you get into the pen... you're in with the bodybuilders. But they probably won't talk to you just yet. So you go grab a bar and throw it on a squat rack. As you do a few warm up reps and work into your workout proper, you notice the body builders are starting to look a little friendlier.
And if you put up a few plates, some of the tourists start taking pictures of you, while you lift.
You've fooled them! They think you're a body builder, a local, a Muscle Beach regular!
But there's only so much meathead stuff (typed with love) you can do- so you have to move on. You take a few selfies with the bodybuilders, say goodbye, and leave.
Or at least this has been my experience, the few times I've lifted there.
Go there! Worst case, you have a good story. Best case, you've connected with a bit of the past of a sport that was one of the predecessors to the functional fitnes movement. If this was 1982 instead of 2015, we'd all be body builders.
Muscle Beach can be a bit confusing to find unless you really know what you are looking for. Just google Muscle Beach Venice for the lifting area.
Also note there is a free bodyweight area behind the paid lifting area, and there are also beach volleyball nets, handball courts, basketball courts, the Venice beach (free), and paddle tennis courts there.
$10 for a day pass... or if you're a local, a year membership is only $170!