Gold's Gym

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Gold's Gym International, Inc.
Genre Fitness
Founded August 25, 1965; 51 years ago (1965-08-25)
Venice Beach, California, U.S.
Founder Joe Gold
Headquarters Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Number of locations
Over 700 (December 2011)[2]
Owner TRT Holdings

Gold's Gym International, Inc. is an American chain of international co-ed fitness centers (commonly referred to as gyms) originally started by Joe Gold in Venice Beach, California. Each gym features a wide array of exercise equipment, group exercise classes and personal trainers to assist clients. Its headquarters are in Dallas, Texas.[3]

Corporate history[edit]

Gold's Gym in Laredo, Texas

The first Gold's Gym was opened by Joe Gold in August 1965 in Venice Beach, California.[4][5] Dubbed "the Mecca of bodybuilding", it was frequented by Arnold Schwarzenegger[6] and Dave Draper[7] and featured in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron, which brought attention not only to the gym itself but also to bodybuilding and physique in general. To this day, Gold's is considered a landmark in bodybuilding culture[8] and has achieved cult status.[9] In 1970, Gold sold the at-the-time failing gym to Bud Danits and Dave Saxe. Danits was an antique dealer and Saxe a jeweler. They ran the gym for almost two years, and when they realized it was not feasible for them, they were going to close it and open it as an antiques shop. They offered it to a gym member, Ken Sprague, who purchased it in late 1971, and Gold's was saved as a gym. Sprague was the first owner of Gold's to actually sponsor and hold bodybuilding competitions, and his promotional skills and film industry contacts helped build the profile of Gold's. By 1975, when George Butler was going to film Pumping Iron, it was Sprague's savvy, telling Butler that he would paint the windows over to minimize back light, and let Butler mount a lighting grid to the inside ceiling that made Gold's Gym the primary location for filming Pumping Iron. After the release of the movie in 1977, and along with the 1977 Mr. America and Mr. America Day parade held in Santa Monica sponsored and conceived of by Sprague, the profile of Gold's gym grew even larger. That year's Mr. America had more press requests than the 1977 Academy Awards. By 1979, when Sprague had sold Gold's Gym, it was the most famous gym in the world.[10] From 1979 to 1999 (for 20 years) Gold's Gym was owned by Peter Grymkowski (a Mr. World body building champion) and his partners. After two years of ownership, Grymkowski and partners moved from the 5500-square-foot facility in to a 60,000-square-foot building over a six-year period. Grymkowski's brother became the licensing director, which helped bring the Gold's Gym name from one location to over 540 throughout the U.S. and the world. They were the first in the fitness industry to expand like this.[citation needed]

Today, Gold's Gym claims to be the largest chain of unisex gyms in the world, with more than 700 locations in 37 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.,[11] as well as 20 other countries.[12] Gold's Gym has a membership of approximately three million.[13] Gold's Gym locations are equipped with cardiovascular and strength training equipment and offer group exercise classes such as group cycling, pilates, Latin dance, yoga,[14] and stretching through the company program of GGX (Gold's Group Exercise). Many gyms also offer basketball courts, swimming pools, and boxing studios.[citation needed]

The company licenses its name to products such as fitness equipment and clothing. The original Gold's Gym logo, a bald weightlifter holding a barbell, was designed in 1973 by professional wrestler Ric Drasin, who was Schwarzenegger's training partner for four years.[15] Notable users of Gold's Gym have included such celebrities as Jessica Alba, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Dwayne Johnson, Jim Morrison,[citation needed] Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank, and Tiger Woods, among many others.[16] The original Gold's Gym in Venice is considered a sports landmark by ESPN and is named on its list of the 100 most important sports venues.[17]

Corporate information[edit]

Gold's Gym in Cairo along the Nile
Gold's Gym Stride Trainer 300 Elliptical

Gold's Gym is privately owned. It was acquired from its previous owner, private equity firm Brockway Moran & Partners, by Robert Rowling's TRT Holdings in 2004 for approximately $158 million. Brockway Moran had acquired the company in 1999[18] for more than $50 million.[19] Corporate headquarters are in the Dallas metropolitan area.[20]

Since Gold's Gym opened its first international location in Canada in 1985, the company has expanded its global franchising program to include nearly 180 international gyms including operations in Russia, India, Australia, Costa Rica, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines.[16][21] In 2009, the company opened its first locations in Spain, Poland and Venezuela.

In 2004, the company introduced the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute to serve as a think tank on critical health and fitness issues. The institute's members includes Ramona Braganza, Robert Reames, Mike Ryan and Eric the Trainer among others.[22]

Gold's Gym operates a national corporate wellness program. Clients include Whole Foods, the U.S. House of Representatives, American Airlines and Exxon Mobil.[23]

In 2004, Gold's Gym became a national fitness sponsor of the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. In 2006 the company became a National Strategic Partner of the American Diabetes Association, the ADA's highest designation for a corporate partner. Since their relationship began, Gold's Gym has raised more than $2.5 million to benefit diabetes research, education and awareness.[24]

In 2009, Gold's Gym partnered with video game manufacturer Ubisoft to create the "Gold's Gym Cardio Workout" video game for the Wii. The game received positive reviews.[25]

Gold's is one of two official health clubs of the AARP, where it offers month-to-month memberships, and is the official health club of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Gold's has begun offering online enrollment.[26][27][28]

Under a license agreement with Gold's Gym, Icon Health & Fitness designs, manufactures, markets and sells a full line of fitness equipment under the Gold's Gym brand name.[29]


Numerous customers have reported Gold's Gym franchises acting in dishonest and unscrupulous ways. They have reported advertised deals not being honored, billing irregularities, contract terms being fraudulently altered by sales staff after signing and problems canceling accounts or relocating.[30] A Gold's Gym in Provo, Utah, was successfully sued for fraud in 2006 for changing a contract after it was signed in 1999.[31] In November 2014, this gym along with 16 other gyms in Utah left the Gold's Gym brand and became part of the newly created VASA Fitness brand.[32] An accusation of the same conduct of fraud arose again in 2017. On February 10, 2017, the billing processor for the gyms, Paramount Acceptance, and 26 companies under the VASA Fitness name (including new gyms since 2014) were served with a consumer class action lawsuit with numerous causes of action including fraudulent misrepresentation, violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and violations of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act, with the entire complaint published by the plaintiff online.[33]

Like many gyms, some Gold's Gym franchisees lure customers with free sign-up or gift certificates with fabricated nominal values,[citation needed] and then require long-term contracts that are very difficult to exit without paying cancellation fees and following long and inconvenient procedures (such as having to send a certified letter to their central billing office a month in advance).[34] In the past, gym websites did not give membership rates and the gyms would usually not tell customers the rate over the phone, asking instead that customers come to the gym to have a tour and discussion, which often included a heavy sales pitch.[citation needed]

Cardio Cinema[edit]

Gold's Gym has provided the "Cardio Cinema" concept since at least 2008. It features a cinema projector screen and feature-length films but has treadmills installed instead of seats. Gold's Gym has more than 50 cardio cinemas across the U.S.[35][36]


  1. ^ Brown, Erika (August 7, 2003). "Investing In Obesity". Forbes. Retrieved September 24, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Gold’s Gym Opens New Fitness Facility in Linglestown" (Press release). December 21, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ Gold's Gym. "The corporate offices are located at: Gold's Gym International 4001 Maple Ave, Suite 200, Dallas, TX 75219"
  4. ^ "About Gold's". Gold's Gym. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Gold's Gym Celebrates 50th Anniversary; Inducts Arnold Schwarzenegger Into The Gold's Gym Hall... -- DALLAS, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --". PRNewswire. August 26, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Work Out". Retrieved January 9, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Joe Gold's Dungeon". Retrieved December 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ Emery, Mike (January 2003). "Men's Bodybuilding: A Short History". Retrieved January 9, 2007. 
  9. ^ "The cult of the gym: The new puritans". The Economist. December 19, 2002. Retrieved January 9, 2007. 
  10. ^ Interviews with Bill Grant, Ken Waller, Dave Du Pre, Pete Samra, Tony Pearson, Ken Sprague, Wayne Gallasch; October/November 2015; by Marc Martinez for an upcoming documentary, for which trailers are available
  11. ^ "Golds Gym Memberships". Gold's Gym. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Locate a Gym". Gold's Gym. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Gold's Gym Accelerates Growth And Innovation In Strong 2016" (Press release). Gold's Gym. PR Newswire. December 13, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2017. With nearly 3 million members worldwide 
  14. ^ "Gold's Story". Gold's Gym International. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  15. ^ Perine, Shawn (December 1, 2005). "Gold's goes bald.(HARD TIMES)". Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Smith, Stephen P. (2005). "America's Greatest Brands, Volume IV".
  17. ^ Caple, Jim (September 19, 2008), "America's 100 Most Important Sports Venues",
  18. ^ "TRT Holdings Inc. is new owner of Gold's Gym". Dallas Business Journal. June 15, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2009. 
  19. ^ Goldman, Stuart (August 1, 2008). "Tension Builds Between Gold's Gym International and Gold's Franchisees". Club Industry. Retrieved June 10, 2017. 
  20. ^ TRT Holdings (January 25, 2012). "TRT Holdings Announces Plans to Build New Headquarters". Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  21. ^ "About Gold's Gym". Gold's Gym Philippines. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  22. ^ "Pressroom: Fitness Institute". Gold's Gym International. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Corporate Wellness". Gold's Gym International. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  24. ^ "2006 Annual Report" (PDF). American Diabetes Association. p. 13. Retrieved March 17, 2016. 
  25. ^ Hernandez, Pedro (May 11, 2009). "Gold's Gym Cardio Workout". NintendoWorldReport. Archived from the original on August 4, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Gold's Gym - AARP". Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  27. ^ "". Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Axiom". Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Gold's Gym Announces Strategic Alliance to Market Fitness Equipment with ICON Health & Fitness". July 25, 2001. Retrieved March 16, 2016. 
  30. ^ Gargulinski, Ryn (January 13, 2009). "Complaints against local gyms triple since 2005". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved March 2, 2009. 
  31. ^ Andreason vs. Felsted, Viertel, Peterson and Gold's Gym of Provo (May 11, 2006). Text
  32. ^ "Goodbye, Gold’s Gym; hello, VASA Fitness – The Daily Universe". Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Class Action Lawsuit Against VASA Fitness and Paramount Acceptance". Retrieved February 12, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Member FAQ's" (PDF). Gold's Gym. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Movie theatre workout". KIVB. LIN Television. November 8, 2008. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Amenities". Gold's Gym. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]