Friday, June 14, 2013



By Leon Cruz

By the time you read this you may have heard that Joe Weider passed away. Joe died on March 23, 2013 at the ripe age of 93, eight months from his 94th birthday, which is on November 29th. What can I say about Joe Weider that has not been said already by those who actually knew him. I do not want to bore you with the usual stuff. I would like to talk about how Joe Weider impacted my life. Although I did not know Joe Weider nor did I ever meet him, he did have a profound impact on me through his magazines, supplements and training equipment. Joe Weider was a master marketer. He knew how to sell his products to the masses especially to young boys, which I was when I started lifting weights and training to build my body. I remember the snowy day I went with my mom to buy my first weight set. I was twelve, and for Christmas my mom and I went to T.S.S., which stands for Time Square Stores. These stores were popular back in the early 1980’s. They are all long gone by now. This was the place I bought my 110 pound vinyl cement filled weight set. Looking back, I have to say that I did not know anything about equipment back then. If I did I would have purchased the iron set instead. The weight set I purchased was from Billiard Barbell. I began my training by following the little exercise poster that came with the set.  It’s the only thing I knew to use back then. My older sister (Lori) was in high school and many of her friends that knew me were impressed that I started to weight train.

 Many of her friends dabbled at the school weight room and knew a little about training. They all were ready to give me their advice on training. Many of them also read the muscle magazines, which were readily available at the subway newsstands in those days. You would stop by the newsstand before or after class and purchase the magazines of your choice. The magazine of choice for them was Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness magazine. I did not know about this publication being that I just started training. The first time I saw a Muscle and Fitness magazine was when my mom sent me to the local pharmacy to pick up a prescription. When I got there, I waited for the prescription to be filled. While I waited, I walked over to the loaded magazine rack the store had. On this rack I saw my first issue of Muscle & Fitness. On the cover were Lyn Conkright and Chris Dickerson winning a couples posing contest, which was a very popular form of bodybuilding competition back then; it no longer exists today. The price tag on the magazine was three dollars.

I wanted to buy it but did not have the money. My older sister who was working a summer Job gave me the three dollars to buy the magazine. I immediately ran to the pharmacy and bought the issue of the magazine. After buying the magazine, I ran home and began pouring through the pages. At that time (and still today) I was a comic book fan. I would watch the incredible hulk on TV, which starred Mr. Universe Lou Ferrigno. The program would come on at 8:00 o’clock on Fridays. I noticed that Lou Ferrigno was featured in the magazine. At that time Lou Ferrigno was the only bodybuilder I was familiar with so I immediately knew who he was. Then I would read about this Austrian person named Arnold Schwarzenegger and about how he won the 1980 Mr. Olympia. Amazing stuff. What really appealed to me were all of the Weider ads for protein supplements, vitamins and the Weider barbell sets. I would see all of the champions posing with all of the Weider products. These champions would give Joe Weider all of the credit for their success and credit to his barbells and supplements and also his training principles.

As I read the magazine, I thought that the only way to build your body successfully was to use all of the Weider products. Since it made the champs who they are then I should be able to use the same things. I remember all of this with nostalgia. Very happy times. I equated all things Joe Weider with bodybuilding. I would devour all of the training routines and use them when I trained with my plastic weight set. I did not have a weight bench in those days so I got two milk crates from the store and put them together to form a weight bench I could lay on and perform bench press movements. For cushioning, I would use a folded bed sheet. I felt like everything was so wonderful. Shortly after that I started high school. I continued to buy the Weider magazines both Muscle & Fitness and Flex. I purchased many of the supplemental products advertised in Joe Weider’s magazines at the Herman’s sporting goods store. Shortly after that, for my 16th birthday my mom bought me the Weider golden weight set along with the Marcy Monster bench. The weight set was purchased at Herman’s sporting goods and the bench was purchased at T.S.S. Why do I tell you all of this, well because these were the most wonderful times growing up. It was times like these that make me who I am today. The amazing thing about all this is that I still have the equipment and the magazines I started out with except for the plastic weight set. I eventually gave that away when I began purchasing the iron weight sets.

I remember the time in the late 80’s when many new magazines, newsletters and books on bodybuilding began on the “bashing Weider” campaign. I think once an Iconic figure becomes fully famous, Like Vince McMahon from Wrestling, many will come out of the woodwork to try and destroy your character. Joe Weider was not perfect, and I would say somewhat of a hypocrite due to his silly anti steroid campaign with those phony horror stories, but Joe Weider basically made the world of physique development what it is today. I have nothing but admiration and positive associations with Joe Weider and the Bodybuilding Lifestyle, even today and hopefully always. I remember using all of the Weider principles described in his Magazines.  Magazines. I later came to realize that Weider was not the original creator of those training techniques but were created by the superstars featured in his magazines. Joe just decided to rename them and make them his own. A master marketer. Either way, these techniques did work. I also remember performing marathon training sessions believing that I needed to do all of the training exercises described in his books and courses. Well, times have definitely changed for me. I am a lot more knowledgeable now and exactly know what to do for my body type, and know what kind of training to do. This comes with experience due to the fact that, as of this writing, I have been training for 30years now. I will always remember Joe Weider. He did impact my life for the better. May God bless his surviving family.

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