The Queen of Muscle Beach
“In this day and age where so many women train with weights for fitness, health, figure or strength athletics, it may seem difficult to imagine a time when any type of weight training was frowned upon for females. It is not too long ago however when the only places you would see a woman lifting weights was in music hall or circus and they were often regarded as freaks. In the 1940s a woman came along to challenge the established perceptions to demonstrate that a weight trained woman could be strong, healthy, vibrant and attractive. She also opened the door to women’s weightlifting competition. Her name was Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton and every female who picks up a barbell for any reason owes her a huge debt of gratitude.”
“Upon leaving school Pudgy became employed as a telephone operator on shift work. The sedentary position plus less outdoors activity resulted in weight gain. However, boyfriend Les had the solution. He presented her with a set of dumb bells complete with the York Dumb Bell course. Inspired by the rapid transformation she started to include calisthenics and basic hand balancing to her training schedule.
Pudgy was hooked and started spending more time at the beach practicing stunts with Les and other regulars. At this time gymnastic and weightlifting equipment had been installed at the beach attracting a hard core group of serious trainers and a host of hangers on and spectators. Others who could be seen working out there around this time were Jack LaLanne, Joe Gold (of Gold and World Gym Fame), Armand Tanny and Harold Zinkin, the first Mr. California and inventor of the Universal Gym.”