Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:

Joe Weider (1919-2013): Remembering The Father Of Bodybuilding

The Master Blaster taught the world how to train and eat for maximum health and fitness. A personal remembrance of this one-of-a-kind fitness icon.

Joe Weider passed away early Saturday morning, March 23, 2013, at age 93 in Los Angeles. He had been ill for some time, and the cause of his death was heart failure.

Joe Weider's influence on bodybuilding and the fitness industry is so pervasive that it defies measurement. The websites we visit, the magazines we read, the contests we attend, the diets we follow, the workouts we undertake, the lexicon we use, the careers many of us pursue—they all exist in large measure because of Joe Weider. Things have changed now, but for generations, taking up fitness meant picking up one of Joe's magazines, buying one of Joe's weight sets for your garage, and purchasing some of Joe's supplements.

In a moving tribute posted on his Facebook page, Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote, in part: "I knew about Joe Weider long before I met him—he was the godfather of fitness who told all of us to "Be Somebody with a Body." He taught us that through hard work and training we could all be champions."

Starting Small, Growing Big ///

Joe certainly knew about overcoming odds to achieve greatness. His bio is no less remarkable for having been recounted many times. One of four children of Jewish-Polish immigrant parents, he grew up poor in Montreal, dropped out of school after seventh grade to help support his family, and took up lifting to fortify his scrawny frame against neighborhood bullies. He got his start in publishing working on what became Your Physique at his mother's kitchen table.

Despite such humble beginnings, Joe Weider would end up profoundly influencing American society and physical culture worldwide in the 20th century. To cite several of his key roles:

  • Joe Weider was a visionary.
    He championed fitness as a lifestyle when that seemed crazy to mainstream Americans, and he favored weight training and bodybuilding when it was considered little more than a cult. He thought working out and eating healthfully were the only things that could save us from a public health disaster. He was right then, and he's still right today.

  • Joe Weider was an exercise scientist.
    He may not have held a degree, but his ceaseless experimentation produced an impressive body of work, including his Weider Principles. Whether they were invented by him, or merely packaged by him, no one cares now. They have helped millions find their way in the gym.

  • Joe Weider was an entrepreneur.
    He started a fitness equipment company, a dietary supplement company, a global bodybuilding federation (along with his younger brother Ben), and, most notably, a publishing empire, one that he sold in 2003 to American Media for $350 million. Muscle & Fitness, M&F Hers, FLEX, Shape and Men's Fitness are all Joe Weider's brainchild, as were many magazines before them.

  • Joe Weider was a marketing genius.
    He was selling a lifestyle, and he had a keen sense of his market. The aspirational physiques on the pages of his magazines offered a promise that would not only change your body, it would change your life, too. Self-confidence, health, vigor—Joe Weider figured out how to "bottle" them.

  • Joe Weider was a missionary.
    He brought Arnold to America and spread the gospel of bodybuilding to the rest of the world. Along with Ben, Joe helped take the message of health-and-fitness to some 170 countries. Ben flew from continent to continent for more than half a century; Joe used the power of words and images.

Although his accomplishments were epic, Joe the man was down to earth and modest. The famous marble bust with arms crossed didn't even depict his body. (Always the image sculptor, he borrowed Robby Robinson's chiseled torso and placed an image of his own head atop it). Joe, who spoke with a widely imitated French Canadian accent, could be cantankerous and mercurial, to the point where many of the editors, writers, art directors and photographers working on his beloved magazines would hide layouts in exasperation. Often for better, sometimes for worse, Joe Weider was a man who knew exactly what he wanted.

The Father Figure of Bodybuilding ///

It was all part of his grace and charm, and he was unflinchingly kind and supportive to those he encountered. So endearing was Joe's quiet presence that the Father of Bodybuilding became a surrogate or second father for many of the men and women under his charge, starting with Arnold. Later in my career, when I had a book published that is a quasi-memoir, I didn't think twice; I dedicated my life's story to date to Joe, a man who was, technically, only my former employer. But he was so much more than that to so many of us.

This week, the muscle and mainstream media will pour forth tributes that echo his accomplishments and bolster his legacy, and they will all be heartfelt and richly deserved. Our site will be devoting coverage to the life of Joe Weider, celebrating his influence on bodybuilding as a sport and on fitness as a lifestyle. Please look for it on Bodybuilding.com starting tomorrow.

We celebrate the passing of a truly great man, even as we are saddened that he has left us. But he leaves us with every tool that we need. So hit the gym today and crank out a workout in the Master Blaster's memory. Crush it. Rattle the plates so hard that he hears the racket upstairs. (Never mind when you hear, in a strange accent, "Nah, you're doing it all wrong. Here, let me show you...") He would love that, because that was his most powerful message of all: Work out. You'll feel better if you do.



2010 Joe Weider Interview ///

Watch The Video - 10:31






Bookmark and Share

Related Articles

About The Author

Before joining Bodybuilding.com, Jeff O'Connell was executive writer at Men's Health and editor-in-chief at Muscle & Fitness.

RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
9.5

Out of 10
Excellent
143 Ratings

60

Comments

Showing 1 - 25 of 60 Comments

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
soheil25

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
soheil25

were all gona make it

Mar 24, 2013 11:12am | report
 
adamronline

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
adamronline

Rest in peace Joe. You will be missed by all of us

Mar 24, 2013 11:13am | report
 
tnfitguy

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
tnfitguy

very sad. he was the man back in the day. weider was the name when i was starting out. his muscle & fitness magazine was the bb bible.

Mar 24, 2013 11:16am | report
 
cssrss

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
cssrss

Great article and tribute!

Mar 24, 2013 11:44am | report
 
bookerbrother

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
bookerbrother

Great Article Jeff! What a tribute. I am looking forward to what you guys have planned for the weeks ahead. I had the honor of meeting Joe my first trip to L.A in 2010 when Bb.com flew me out to compete in the body space spokes model search. Amazing man.

Mar 24, 2013 11:48am | report
 
chrisfairweathe

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
chrisfairweathe

So sad to hear that Joe Weider the god father of bodybuilding has pass away,we own this wonderful man a great deal when it comes to bodybuilding,it was through is mags that I got started,and I have never look back.R.I.P. MR Joe Weider

Mar 24, 2013 12:29pm | report
 
nickaevans

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
nickaevans

Rest in peace Joe. You did more for the sport of bodybuilding than anyone else. Today's workout is for you!

Mar 24, 2013 12:45pm | report
 
Crunch Masta Chris

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Crunch Masta Chris

Great tribute. Honest, heartfelt, and perfectly phrased. Time to move some iron in honor of Joe Weider.

Mar 24, 2013 12:48pm | report
 
garciajr88

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
garciajr88

He will live in every single one of us!

Mar 24, 2013 1:45pm | report
 
dyurchak1

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
dyurchak1

A sad day for the bodybuilding community. A great man and innovator will be missed!

Mar 24, 2013 1:45pm | report
 
saevus

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
saevus

RIP Joe. Even though you're gone, you'll always live on in our memories and within this great legacy you left behind.

Mar 24, 2013 2:46pm | report
 
Cymp1963

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Cymp1963

I owe a lot to Mr. Weider. Gone but not forgotten

Mar 24, 2013 4:08pm | report
 
charlesryan

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
charlesryan

RIP Joe

Article Rated:
Mar 24, 2013 4:34pm | report
 
TruePacha

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
TruePacha

Great person. Rest in peace.

Mar 24, 2013 4:35pm | report
 
ehsansaid

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
ehsansaid

Was he a bodybuilder or was he just into general fitness.

Mar 24, 2013 5:35pm | report
 
jgreystoke

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
jgreystoke

Early on he was a competitive weightlifter. And very strong in the overhead lifts compared to most today.

Mar 26, 2013 1:34am | report
alanzo40

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
alanzo40

RIP Legendary man

Mar 24, 2013 6:34pm | report
 
Molinski44

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Molinski44

</3

Mar 24, 2013 7:12pm | report
 
HintonBlood

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
HintonBlood

Another Legend in the bodybuilding world, his deeds, passion, and his heart of stone will never be forgotten. For generations and generations to come will his knowledge help out many, in the life of health and Fitness.
R.I.P.

Article Rated:
Mar 24, 2013 7:43pm | report
 
kjCovell

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
kjCovell

Man is a legend, RIP

Mar 24, 2013 7:47pm | report
 
AnemicOne

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
AnemicOne

Such a kind hearted person. Wish I could've met him.

Mar 24, 2013 7:47pm | report
 
Daytime2110

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Daytime2110

A great man. Will anyone fill his shoes now.

Mar 24, 2013 7:49pm | report
 
TJONES275

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
TJONES275

rest in peace

Mar 24, 2013 8:17pm | report
 
oldschool5919

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
oldschool5919

much respect due to a world ambassador,RIP GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN.

Mar 24, 2013 8:36pm | report
 
IronConqueror

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
IronConqueror

Great article man you really know how to hit on the right notes much respect. Love and respect Joe we all owe you everything and you will be missed by all of us.

Mar 24, 2013 9:16pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 60 Comments

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com