Ch. 7 – “Acrobats and Beefcake”

The intersection of life, art, and fitness is the subject of the seventh chapter as Kunitz takes us back to the 1930s at Muscle Beach on Santa Monica Pier where Abbye and Les Stockton perfected the art of acrobatics and later, a diverse set of athletes flocked united by “the urge to interact with the world in functional ways.” At Muscle Beach, weightlifters became functional performers while bodybuilders became models and marketable images. Ultimately, Kunitz claims, Muscle Beach created the space and became the initial grounds of a fitness movement that combined strength with flexibility, exertion with relaxation. It is from these roots, Kunitz explains, that Parkour and even American Ninja Warrior sprouted as channels of physical and creative energies for some and entertainment for others.