The Man Who Transformed Bodybuilding & Fitness

There are lots of legends. Joe Weider was one of a kind.



Though it moved twice, Weider Publishing headquarters remained in Union City, New Jersey. Still, it had a West Coast office in Santa Monica, California—which, with the opening of the first Gold’s Gym in neighboring Venice in 1965, was at the forefront of muscle. Weider photo shoots occurred at the beach, and throughout the ‘60s, Joe’s magazines became increasingly synonymous with California sunshine and a perpetual holiday in what looked like paradise when viewed on a bleak winter day in New Jersey—or in a small mountain village in Austria.

In that village lived a muscular phenom with a peculiar name. After winning the 1967 NABBA Mr. Universe at 19, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the talk of bodybuilding. In 1968, he adorned his first Weider cover and entered his first Weider contest. On September 28, backstage at the Miami Auditorium, hours before the IFBB Mr. Universe, 21-year-old Arnold Scwarzenegger met Joe Weider, the man he would come to think of as his second father. Arnold didn’t win the show (it was his last loss), but his boundless potential won over the publisher. “He had the mind of a champion, he had the heart of a champion, and I figured that he could be a star and being a star he would help the sport,” Joe said of Arnold.

Arnold recalled: “He always would say, ‘Arnold, I want you to be the best and the smartest bodybuilder of the whole world. I see fire in your eyes. I see the competitive spirit in your eyes. That is what I want. And this is why I’ll help you, and you come to California and I’ll take care of your apartment and I’ll give you some spending money so you can live, and all you have to do is train, train, and train and beat everyone.’”

Arnold was on eight Weider magazine covers over 16 months between July 1969 and December 1970. Articles were penned under his name. (Though that advice was his, a writer—often Joe himself—structured it and typed it.) To get Arnold’s training and nutrition tips as well as photos of his ever-expanding physique, you needed to buy Muscle Builder or Mr. America. Interspersed with the articles, the future seven-time Mr. Olympia appeared in advertisements for Weider training equipment and supplements. Arnold Schwarzenegger has, so far, appeared on the cover of a Weider muscle magazine 68 times. [G.M.: Includes Feb. '13 M&F.]