Muscle Beach competitors offer uplifting message

muscle2As this year gets going, I think of a story I wrote last Labor Day of a Muscle Man/Woman competition in Venice Beach. Among the young, were older competitors who proved that when life tries to weigh you down, suck it up, pump a barbell, do some push-ups and fight aging with strength and grace. Above, older men compete. The photographs are by Daily News Staff Photographer Hans Gutknecht. From my story (Daily News, 2012):

VENICE-Their biceps pumped and their pectorals plump, more than 100 thoroughly oiled, painstakingly waxed, deeply tanned bodybuilders flexed their brawn Monday during the annual Labor Day Muscle Beach Championship at Venice Beach.


Six-pack abs ruled the iconic weight pen, where, just minutes before they lined up to pose before the judges, competitors hoisted heavy barbells and lifted freeweights until their veins popped from their thick necks.

 Among them was Richard Luckey, a second-time competitor from Northridge who, at 84, admitted his glutes may not be as taut as they could be compared to younger men. But he felt healthy since he began working out a few years ago, after his wife passed away.

 “My trainer lives a couple of blocks from me, and she sees to it that I work out every day,” Luckey said. “It’s hard to say no to her.”

 He said he’s lost 50 pounds and feels good about his health.

 “I feel like I’m kind of making a fool of myself, but then again, these men are really young compared to me,” he said.

 His daughter, Mary Luckey, of Simi Valley, said she was proud of her father’s accomplishment.

 “I think it’s awesome to see him now compared to a couple of years ago,” she said.

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 Young and new competitors called the Muscle Beach Venice contest one of the best on the circuit and the most recognized internationally because of its reputation and location.

 The original Muscle Beach was located just south of the Santa Monica Pier. In the 1980s, the barbell, weightlifting and bodybuilding components of Muscle Beach were moved to Venice by the city of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department. Its worldwide reputation grew in part because of its association with Mr. Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.

 “People take this competition seriously, and the shows are very successful,” said Joe Wheatley, who produces the beach’s Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day championships in conjunction with the parks department.

 “It’s an iconic worldwide event,” he added.

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