Every Sunday at noon, a muscular, tattooed, 25-year-old Luis Muñoz welcomes a crew of dedicated bar enthusiasts to Dwight Murphy Park. But this isn’t the continuation of a Saturday-night bender — it’s a different kind of bar, the one for pull-ups, push-ups, and body-weight suspension exercises.
Muñoz is the founder of Santa Barbara Bar Life, a nonprofit that offers free group calisthenics training focused on fitness, nutrition, and clean fun. It’s the culmination of his personal path to health — growing up in a camper, he gravitated toward Isla Vista and skate parks and wound up getting into drinking, drugs, and a gang that nearly ruined his life.
Then he was given a bicycle, began riding, and realized that the cardio exercise “kind of freed my mind.” Soon he was working out on the pull-up bars at public parks. “I started learning the bar workouts were actually channeling all the negative energy, bad feelings, and anger,” said Muñoz. “I felt really proud of myself and happy.” Today, he’s a student at SBCC and will transfer to UCSB next semester.
He’s also proudly sharing his new knowledge to help others. “A lot of places offer drinking, bad food, and stuff like that,” he said. “And they are in a way destroying the community because they are making unhealthy people.” Muñoz’s free program serves as community support for troubled kids that may be suffering in the same ways that he was.
“We really want to reach out to the youth because that’s where the community begins,” Muñoz said. “Our main focus is high school students and showing them that there’s more to do in Santa Barbara than drinking and drugs.”
But his sessions aren’t just for marginalized kids, as participants range from toddlers to people in their late seventies. “Anyone can join us, no matter what your body type is, even if you’re in a wheelchair,” said Muñoz, who also offers detailed nutrition plans, tips for staying focused, and encouragement to leave unhappy lifestyles. “We’ll help you get up on the pull-up bars.”