Google vs. Gold’s Gym Update
by Jay Stern
The worst-kept secret at Gold’s Gym in Venice is that the gym is closing its doors for good when its lease expires on June 30, 2014. With its 45 years of history, this Los Angeles landmark was once the second most popular tourist attraction in the LA area after Disneyland, but alas, times have changed and the ‘Mecca of Bodybuilding’ is slowly transforming into the Mecca of Millionaires, or ‘Silicon Beach’ in techno-blog-speak. Perhaps lost on most bodybuilders is the painful irony of the proverbial pencil-neck geek getting sand kicked in his face by the muscular beach bully turning the tables and kicking the bodybuilders out of Venice Beach. While the new owners of Golds (GGI) were out there licensing the Gold’s name to create Wii video games for couch potatoes instead of renewing their lease at 360 Hampton Drive, Google was creating an empire and looking for a place to expand its empire. The result: Google Plus. Gold’s Minus.
Publicly, the gym management continues to emphasize (perhaps ‘misrepresent’ is a better word choice) that Gold’s Gym isn’t going anywhere, but for those in the know, it has become painfully clear that the clock is ticking down to zero. According to former Gold’s Gym Venice owner Ed Connors, Google has bought the building and the surrounding real estate, with grand designs on walling off the streets and creating a SoCal campus to rival its Mountain View ‘university’. If this is accurate, Gold’s Gym appears to have dropped the ball, and with undeveloped real estate (and parking availability) in the area in short supply, the death of Gold’s Venice is but a foregone conclusion.
While some have predicted a move to nearby Culver City or Playa Del Rey, Gold’s already has franchisees in those areas and the geographic limitations of those franchise agreements would likely come into dispute if the most famous gym in the world were to relocate to their area. For the record, Ed Connors — the man who sold Gold’s to its current owners — is already eulogizing the gym he helped create: “It’s a shame if they [Gold’s Gym International] are going to let a piece of history just disappear but sadly I think that’s what is going to happen.”
As a current member of Gold’s Venice and a fellow Maryland alum of Google founder Sergey Brin, I believe that I am well-positioned to mediate this matter. My recommendation is that Google use its considerable wealth to purchase Gold’s Gym Venice, make it the official gym for Google employees, and rename it — wait for it…