Joe Weider, Trainer of Champions (1919-2013)

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Joe Weider

Joe Weider

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"Body Building in post war Britain didn’t really exist, it was very wrapped up in the Physical Culture era of the pre war 30s. Body Building was part of the movement and not an entity, sport or activity on its own. Basements, disused buildings e.g. schools, church halls, garages and even garden sheds were the Gyms of post war Britain. Winter meant training in gloves, scarves and even woolen hats in the attempt to keep warm. In those days the weight trainer  was a real Spartan.

Exercise routines and systems weren’t any better, they were based on 12 basic exercises which were performed for 3 sets of 8 for the first 12months, then after this period they could be upped to 4 sets, as you were then considered advanced. Equipment was in line with training locations and exercise routines. Lat machines consisted of a rope around a high pulley with a dumbell tied on the end, incline benches a plank propped against a wall, this also doubled as an abdominal board. Most if not all equipment was home made. It was into this era that Joe Weider’s publications crossed the Atlantic, landing like  bombshells on newsagents’ counters. Up to this time British Bodybuilders had been served by Health and Strength Magazine and several similar publications, all of them still following the Physical Culture mantra of the 30s. 

London 1948; the first Mr. Universe contest was run in conjunction with the 1948 Olympic Games, and for the first time British Bodybuilders were able to see the US Bodybuilders in the flesh, Body Builders they had only seen in grainy black and white photos in the magazines. Along with the Weider publications Body Building was to change very fast, but not for another 10 years.  The reason for this was the British Body Building hierarchy who stood their ground against the intruder, writing defamatory articles in the British magazines. Articles criticizing the Weider methods of training, attacks on the honesty of his competitions. In the meantime National Amateur Body Building Association (NABBA) had been born, and under the leadership of OSCAR HEIDENSTAM waged war on the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), the Weiders organisation. But NABBA was fighting an ever increasing onslaught of American publications and Americanisms, like instructions to  “Bomb and Blitz”  your muscles. It was the late 50s, three sets of eight had gone, Weider had arrived. British Body Building was changed for ever." - Gil Waldron

Joe Weider was a force to be recognized in bodybuilding, health marketing, publishing and business from the 1940s until his death in 2013. Joe studied Stalin, Lenin, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler and Jesus Christ, the latter two surprisingly as he was Jewish. All but Jesus had created or ruled over great empires, empires that had grown and collapsed. Joe made sure, by noting their mistakes, that the Weider Empire would not go the way of these previously mentioned, and even after his death his legacy goes from strength to strength.

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Joe Weider

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