The Joe Weider Memorial
With my busy lifestyle, it becomes difficult sometimes to reflect back to the great memories that I have experienced in my past as a bodybuilder, and especially my great memories and experiences with Joe Weider. This was the guy who made the whole industry exist, and that is a fact.
What really made things difficult was that I was attending the FIBO trade show in Cologne, Germany. FIBO is an important trade show in Europe where I meet with all my distributors in Europe, and talk to many hundreds of end users about all the great products we have and the ones coming out soon.
Although it was important for me to be at FIBO, I was asked personally to speak at the Joe Weider Memorial. To me this was such a great honor and something that I felt compelled to do for the simple fact that if it weren't for Joe, there would be no FIBO for me to attend and there would be no industry of health and fitness. That's how significant it was for me to pay tribute to the man who made it all possible at his memorial. There was just no way I could miss it.
There were over 400 people in attendance, and I was one of 20 people to speak about their experiences with Joe. All I could think was wow! This is such an unbelievable honor! I thought back when to when I was that 13-year-old kid who read the Joe Weider magazines and couldn't imagine that one day I too would be in those same pages inspiring others to be bodybuilders. Now, over 35 years later I am now a businessman with my own influence in the industry, speaking in honor of the man who started it all and made all these opportunities for me to do the things I have in my career.
Attending the event was a Who's Who of people from the bodybuilding industry, from Jim Manion to the various photographers and writers that I knew and dealt with, to the past editors who also worked for Joe. There were many former champions like Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbo, Frank Zane, Cory Everson, Rachel McClish, and of course Arnold and so many others that were instrumental in helping to popularize the bodybuilding, health and fitness industry and helped make Joe Weider's dream of bringing fitness to the masses come true.
This was a memorial about Joe the man, the things he did for the industry; and the people he touched. Joe was a man with so much passion for the sport of bodybuilding. He saw the physical fitness culture as an important part of America that needed to grow and be recognized. Joe knew bodybuilding deserved to be much more than the cult activity it was for many years, and turned it into something everyone wanted to do. He wanted everyone to be in shape, and he believed people simply needed the right information and inspiration.
Joe's vision over 50 years ago was that there would be a gym in every town across America, and even gyms in places like hotels so that people can stay in shape no matter where they were. At the time, it seemed about as plausible as flying cars and colonies on the moon. Physical fitness with weights would be used by men and women around the world and in all walks of life.
He believed that you needed to take supplements to help the body to be healthy, because just eating food alone would not be enough to get all the necessary nutrients.
He believed that all athletes would use weight training to help them become better athletes in their field. 50 years ago, even most professional athletes didn't weight train - in many sports it was actually forbidden because they thought it would hurt their performance by making them 'muscle bound!'
When you think about all of Joe's predictions, he was spot on with the things he thought would happen in the future. He was a visionary, seeing things so far ahead in the future that the people in his own era found them ludicrously improbable. He was an unbelievable man who positively affected millions of people's lives.
My story with Joe is that he really took the time to motivate me to be a great champion and he was there to talk to me every step along the way. Whether it was him giving me tips on training or how to pose properly, Joe wanted to help me be the best I could be. He was there as a friend who really cared and who gave his words of advice freely and never expecting a thing in return. Joe inspired others and as I have said, if it weren't for Joe I would not be where I am.
What was so amazing was that everyone who spoke about Joe said the same thing. He was a caring guy who really wanted to help others with that same passion. He had changed so many people's lives, including the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even Arnold said that without Joe he would never be where he is today. We all know the story of how Joe brought Arnold over to America and believed in him, and the rest is history.
Joe Weider was such a critical part of the whole industry that people sometimes forget how this whole industry came about and just how much this one man played a role in its creation.
I truly thank Joe for making it all possible, and for helping me get to where I am at today because of his influence in the industry. The memorial was a perfect reflection of how great a man Joe Weider really was, and of his many accomplishments over his illustrious lifetime. Joe, you will always be remembered and always in my heart!