The outdoor fitness park at Muscle Beach South Beach (MBSB) in Miami sprouts from the coral sand at the intersection of Ninth Street and Ocean Drive. A cadre of improbably toned bodies float off the bars, performing freestyle-calisthenics moves like the human flag, cross, and lever. MBSB has been a workout destination since the ’90s, but in the past year its popularity has soared.
David Nguah, a real estate agent who has been working out here since 1998, is the man to thank. In 2017, when Nguah heard that the city was considering upgrading the park, he approached the mayor’s office and offered to help select the equipment. “I realized that there was a void between the users and the city,” he says. “The city saw how popular and positive it was on Instagram, and they listened.”
This past spring, Miami unveiled are vamped MBSB after partnering with My Equilibria to install sleek, outdoor bodyweight training structures. There are also battle ropes, dumbbells, and kettlebells. “Our mission was to create something beautiful and iconic while simultaneously ensuring it was useful, social, and had a strong impact on the community,” says Daphne Saba, who works for the parks department of the City of Miami Beach.
Shredded is the look at MBSB, because you need to be able to lift your bodyweight over and over to do freestyle calisthenics, says Deron Del Valle, a professional boxer who works out at MBSB a few times a week.
Stoked by social media, MBSB’s profile has risen internationally. On any given day, a few dozen people will be working through their routines.
But Sundays are jammed. The sand is packed with freestylers catching up and trying out new moves, with spectators gathering on the wall that separates the sand from the sidewalk. “We call it the Stage,” says Del Valle. “It’s become a show.”
Aside from the obligatory peacocking, the theme that comes upmost often is community. “It’s nothing but love,” says Nicco Johnson, a personal trainer and MBSB regular, “regardless of what fitness discipline you come from.”