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Joe Gold Dies at 82

Joe Gold, the former bodybuilder who opened the first Gold’s gym and later launched the World Gym Franchise, died Monday at Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital in Marina del Rey. Gold was 82.

Reported July 13, 2004

Joe Gold Dies at 82

Gold had been hospitalized for a few days, according to Mike Uretz, chief executive of World Gym International. The cause of death was not announced.

Gold opened Gold's Gym in Venice in the mid-1960. Six years later he sold it and its rights to the Gold's name and the new owners franchised Gold's Gyms, which grew to include hundreds of sites. In 1977 Gold got back into the gym business by establishing the World Gym chain, which now has over 300 locations.

A machinist. Gold developed workout machines that enabled bodybuilders to go beyond dumbbells and barbells. "Joe, along with Vic Tanny and Jack LaLanne, was a groundbreaking figure in the fitness world because of his creative designs," said IRON MAN Magazine Publisher John Balik. "Before Joe, a lot of things were designed for the 'look'; Joe loved to fiddle and create until he got things that felt right."

The biggest of all stars who did his sets and reps at the original Gold's gym, located on Pacific Ave, was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who first came to California in 1968 before moving on to seven Mr. Olympia wins, Hollywood stardom and, of course, the Governorship of California.

"Joe Gold was a bodybuilding legend, a pioneer, but above all, deep in his heart, he was a bodybuilding fan." said Schwarzenegger in a statement on Monday. The Governor termed Gold "a trusted friend and father figure" who was instrumental in his training during his days as a bodybuilder.

In 1991, when Gold fell ill, Schwarzenegger ran World Gym for Gold for a year. "He did it out of friendship for Joe," said Uretz. "As soon as he saw that Joe was better and needed something else to do, he just gave him the whole thing back."

Schwarzenegger said Gold was the first person to give him advice. "He also gave everyone nicknames. I kept thinking he would call me 'Hey, Big Arms!' or 'Hey, Monster'. And he called me 'Baloon Belly.'… inspired me to kill myself working out my abs." Gold was born on March 10, 1922 in East Los Angeles. The son of a junk dealer, Gold graduated from Roosevelt High School , where he was a classmate of Harold Zinkin, the inventor of the Universal Gym Machine.

During World War II, Gold joined the Navy and was badly injured when his ship was torpedoed in the Phillipines.

A memorial service will be held in a few weeks, according to Uretz. Contributions can be made to the Salvation Army Bell Shelter, c/o Dr. Doug Loisei, 5600 Mansfield Way, Bell, CA. About a third of Bell Shelter's clients are veterans.

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