Muscle Beach Santa Monica | Loews Hotels Blog
Santa Monica

Just as Santa Monica is a quintessential Southern California destination, Loews Santa Monica Hotel is a reflection of everything that makes Santa Monica unique, bringing the colors, beach lifestyle, and even the history of the city into the hotel itself. BarBelle, our newest culinary outlet, is no exception. In fact, its local inspiration is none other than its next-door neighbor, the iconic Muscle Beach. BarBelle is named for fitness-mecca’s stars of the past — Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton (known as “BarBelle”) and Les Stockton — who made this open-air gym on the sand so famous.

So, what’s so special about Muscle Beach?

Yoga, spin, the gyms of today… you have Muscle Beach Santa Monica fitness buffs to thank for all of that. Muscle Beach was one of the first hangouts for fitness fiends, and is considered to be the epicenter of the 1930s fitness movement that went on to inspire the California fitness craze that followed. But don’t get this Muscle Beach confused with the one on Venice Beach, which is more associated with weightlifting. Santa Monica is the original.

The History

Starting in 1933, Muscle Beach, as it was later known, established itself as a meeting place for gymnasts, acrobats and athletes to showcase their talents to each other, to locals and, more importantly, to Hollywood scouts on the hunt for stunt people and actors. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that the beach began to evolve into the Muscle Beach we all know and love, thanks to the presence of WWII soldiers on tour and a larger group of athletic “regulars.”

Muscle Beach Today

The beachfront outdoor gym boasts tons of retro gymnastics equipment like rings, parallel bars and ropes. From Pacific sunrise to sunset, visitors are guaranteed to spot some of Santa Monica’s most tanned and toned bodies swinging from ring to ring. This spot is still one of the most popular destinations in the area for athletes and locals.


Back at the hotel, the enduring allure of Muscle Beach was channeled into our new beachfront eatery. Like its namesake, BarBelle is anything but boring and embraces its California-casual style, from farm-to-table menu options carefully curated by Executive Chef Zach Dallessandro to quirky signature cocktails, like the Flaming BarBelle. (Yes, you guessed it — it’s topped with a small flame.) All this pairs well with spectacular Pacific Ocean views and a gallery of vintage Muscle Beach photographs. Whether you come to fuel up for a day on the beach, to recover from your own workout at Muscle Beach, or simply to enjoy a quintessential Southern California meal, you’re bound to love the freshness of the menu and the oceanfront setting.

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