Joe Weider, America’s Fitness Guru Dies at 93


When I was an early teenager I was very skinny, and I wanted to change that.  On the back page of comic books were often advertisements for several body building companies, and even ads for “Joe Louis” boxing techniques.  As long as I can remember the name Joe Weider was there in print. It saddens me to  learn that America’s fitness Guru has died, at age 93.

If there is any descriptive term such as innovator, or icon, and more, that can be used to describe the man who originated “Mr. and Ms. Olympia” it is applicable.  The very gym I go to today would probably not exist if Weider had not promoted his belief in fitness.

Arnold Schwarzenegger describes him as kind, generous and “a titan in the fitness industry”.  He called Weider his “mentor”.

Weider’s future began in a rough section of Montreal, Canada.  He said he was, like me, a scrawny kid.  He created his own barbell and at seventeen entered a weightlifting contest.  He became well known, and at 20 started his first magazine, “Your Physique”.

Over the next few decades, the name Weider went on to become attached especially to the bodybuilding world, having helped create, in 1946, the International Federation of Bodybuilders and, in 1965, creating the inaugural Mr. Olympia contest. Other competitions followed, such as Ms. Olympia in 1980, Fitness Olympia in 1995 and Figure Olympia in 2003.

He never ceased in his involvement in the world of fitness and body building, even when he was diagnosed with a heart condition nearly 12 years ago.

Right up to the end of his life Weider’s own physical appearance fit those of his protégés.  He had longish white hair, a muscular physique, and a California tan.

Although his business began as a mail order operation, it eventually expanded into a chain of 6,000 retail outlets.

Fitness Guru, Joe Weider died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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