Weightlifter Joe Mack, known as the “Mayor of Muscle Beach Venice,” has been presented with the first-ever “Joe Mack Lifetime Achievement Award” by fellow alumni from the Muscle Beach Venice Membership Committee. This honor recognizes his selfless volunteer service for weightlifting programs and the 1990s rebirth of Muscle Beach Venice.
The award was unveiled at a special Muscle Beach Venice membership reunion dinner held at the Sidewalk Cafe on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Former committee members who trained with Mack at the Muscle Beach Venice weight facility, known as the Weight Pen, and worked with him as Los Angeles Recreation & Parks volunteers gathered to offer toasts and tributes during the program.
Mack’s contributions led to the City of Los Angeles formally dedicating the title “Muscle Beach Venice” in May 1987, with the word “Venice” added to respect and honor the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and the L.A. Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously voting to officially adopt a logo donated by Mack and fellow volunteers. In addition, the City of Los Angeles also created an official proclamation to recognize May 31 as annual “Muscle Beach Venice Day.”
The renewed spotlight on the Venice facility in the 1980s and 1990s also paved the way for efforts to spotlight the legendary site of the original “Muscle Beach” in Santa Monica just south of the Santa Monica Pier, where the fitness boom of the 20th century was born. It traces exclusively to such pioneer Santa Monica names as Joe Gold, Jack LaLanne, and Steve “Hercules” Reeves. As a result, in 1989 Santa Monica’s then-Mayor Denny Zane proceeded to rededicate the original Muscle Beach.
“After years of recognizing the need for a long overdue salute to honor Joe Mack’s achievements and leadership at Muscle Beach Venice, we’re pleased to formally recognize his model of leadership at Muscle Beach Venice,” said Cliff Mosby, past Chairman of the Muscle Beach Venice Membership Committee.
During Mack’s period of contributions to Muscle Beach Venice, champion bodybuilder and then-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Mack’s initiatives and encouraged actions by key leaders of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks to embrace the proposals of Mack and his fellow Weight Pen volunteers. In response, officials from the City of Los Angeles worked in a partnership with the Muscle Beach Venice Membership Committee that led to a successful renaissance for the Venice landmark and spotlight on the original “Muscle Beach” in Santa Monica.
Mosby noted, “Without Joe’s dedication to the Weight Pen as a leading volunteer, and the inspiration and credibility from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement, we would simply not have had as dramatic and successful a renovation and renewal of the image of Muscle Beach Venice that we have today.”
Completed in 1991, the entirely renovated Muscle Beach Venice facility reflected the city’s collaboration with the weightlifting membership through the processes of design input for the architecture, layout of the weight training equipment, stage and facility amenities, and revitalized promotion of the site that resulted in international celebration and media attention.
“It was a privilege to have worked with Joe as he grew in his leadership role,” said Darlene Galindo, former Recreation Director for the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Venice Beach Recreation Center. “He richly deserves this lifetime recognition, as he not only devoted substantial volunteer time and energies to Muscle Beach Venice, but also benefited future generations.”