Monday, March 25, 2013

RIP, Joe Weider

Joe Weider, AKA Mr. Fitness, passed this Saturday at age 93.  I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but his legacy lives on in those of us who are grateful for his contribution to the world, have been inspired by his indomitable spirit, and who, in one way or another, choose to take a page or two from his book.  It is thanks, in part, to his enterprising nature that I was able to obtain my first weight bench fifteen years ago.  Even though the damn rack bit a chunk of skin off my hands every time I finished a set and put the barbell back, I would have been lifting a couple of buckets balanced on a broomstick without it, which is not a far cry from what Joe had to work with back in his day.  I also have many fond memories of reading Muscle & Fitness Magazine, dreaming about the day that I would reach the pinnacle of physical development and studying its fitness tips.  Thank you, Mr. Fitness, for helping to make health and fitness a little more attainable for us all.
Our country thrives because of people like Joe, a Montreal native who, ironically, epitomizes American ingenuity and strong work ethic.  Let Joe be an inspiration to us all to be just half as self-motivated and productive. We need more hardworking and dedicated individuals like Joe who are willing to do what needs to be done – whether it be on the level of personal health and fitness, career and finance, or philanthropy.  This man has shown us that in America you can create your own strength, your own success, and your own wellness: that by unrelenting self-effort, there is no limit to how far we can grow.

Joe was a principled individual who took it as his duty to give to those less fortunate than himself.  His protégé, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a personal hero of mine, says he will never forget Weider’s generosity way back when Arnold was just another starving artist, putting him up in a place in Santa Monica, giving him a stipend to make ends-meet, and plastering Schwarzenegger’s accomplishments all over his (Weider’s) magazines.  He played a similar role in the career of a then-unknown Lou Ferrigno.  Weider and his brother, Ben, never stopped offering support to their native Montreal, even after emigrating, which they took as a religious obligation.   

Joe Weider founded an editorial empire during the Great Depression, with no formal education, and while working full-time as a line cook, despite a booming monopoly held by one Bob Hoffman.  Weider brought integrity to the editorial process by resolving to publish the methods that were proven by champion body-builders themselves, as opposed to the material being circulated by the competition, which was mostly anecdotal and contradictory.  By initiating the process of taking fitness from the realm of hearsay and wives’ tales and into the domain of empirical evidence, by identifying an opening in the market which he could fill, by actually being his business rather than capitalizing on a particular demographic he didn’t really understand or care about (as was the practice of Hoffman), and through sheer perseverance, Weider took the market.  His success only grew from there.  As a personal trainer and a fitness enthusiast, this is a big deal to me.  This is a man who, against all odds, made the world a better place and figured out a way to prosper in the process.  Good for you, Joe Weider, and good for us.

Mr. Fitness, you had a good run but you will be missed.  Your passing serves as one final service to mankind, as a reminder for us all to take a moment to channel some of our “Inner Joe”.  May we all resolve today to be just a little more optimistic, innovative, benevolent, cooperative, and unflinching.  May we all make up our mind to realize our own potential in some way that we have, thus far, been putting off.  If we all just make a small effort to bring even a little bit of “Joe” into our life, the world will undoubtedly become a better place overnight.  Rest in Peace, Joe Weider.

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Thomas S Schmitz said...

America could use a few more Joes (less Biden, more Weider)

Mr Ballentine, you are spot on in saying:

"This man has shown us that in America you can create your own strength, your own success, and your own wellness: that by unrelenting self-effort, there is no limit to how far we can grow"

Too much emphasis is being put on collective salvation these days. The spirit and power of the individual is key to success.

Brandon Ballentine said...

Thank you, Thomas. I agree. Institutions tend to preserve themselves at all costs. It takes somebody with a vision and who's willing to shake things up to change things in any meaningful way. I'd really like to see more people who are fed up with sitting around and waiting for somebody else to get things done.

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