The fitness and bodybuilding communities lost an icon last weekend with the death of Joe Weider. A bodybuilding expert, fitness magazine publisher, and mentor to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Weider died of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 93 years old.
His age at death is a testament to his understanding of fitness and health. Like Jack Lalanne, who died in 2011 at the age of 96, Weider attributed his longevity to exercise and healthy living, and both men developed lucrative careers and fitness empires from their dedication to health and wellness.
Joe Weider was publisher of bodybuilding and fitness magazines and developer of exercise equipment and nutrition supplements. Weider Publications include top-selling fitness magazines Muscle and Fitness, Flex, Shape, Men’s Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Cooks, Living Fit, Senior Golfer, and more. He also authored Weider System of Bodybuilding and co-authored Brothers of Iron with his brother, Ben Weider. He was named “Publisher of the Year” by The Periodical and Book Association in 1983.
In the 1930’s, the Weider family launched the first sports nutrition company, Weider Nutrition, now known as Schiff Nutrition International. The company produced and sold some of the best-selling and most widely-known nutrition bars and supplements on the market today.
In 1946, in the wake of World War II, Ben and Joe Weider founded the International Federation of Body Builders, the organization that sponsored Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia, and other notable men’s and women’s bodybuilding competitions.
Known as “The Master Blaster” and hailed by his protege Arnold Schwarzenegger as “the godfather of fitness,” Joe Weider was the fitness innovator behind several types of exercise equipment, including the As Seen On TV fitness equipment the Weider X-Factor and the Weider Powerbell adjustable kettlebell.
Joe Weider began his fitness empire as a mail-order entrepreneur but quickly grew to selling his products in retail outlets and through direct response marketing. By the 1990’s, Weider America’s Total Fitness Company was a global company, grossing hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In 2003, he sold Weider Publications and his magazines to American Media for a staggering $350 million.
In “Brothers of Iron,” Joe Weider writes that his interest in fitness began in his teens, when, at only 5’6? and 110 pounds, he found himself continually bullied and having to walk away from trouble. By the age of 16, claimed Weider, he could bench press 330 pounds, and he began a life devoted to bodybuilding, fitness, and entrepreneurship. His legacy will not soon be forgotten.