Joe Weider: A Tribute

Weider HQI love telling this story. Whenever I'm speaking to groups around the country, I seldom miss an opportunity to share it. Years ago as I sat in my office at Muscle & Fitness magazine, I was editing an article that needed to get out the door ASAP, when I heard a noise from across the indoor atrium. It was Joe Weider -- the founder of bodybuilding and fitness -- leaving his office for the night.

At the time, Joe was in need of a walker as well as a nurse to get around. As he walked out of his office, I watched him as he made his way down the hall and directly in front of a bronze statue of himself from his younger prime -- arms folded, chest puffed, chin high. Captured in time, a bronzed Joe Weider, now merely a backdrop of a struggling reality.

In one rare moment, I was an eyewitness to two bookends of the same man. The sight caused me to sit back in my chair. Right then the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, "It's not about the body." I thought to myself, What's a Christian fitness expert to do with such a realization? I wanted to make an impact on people's lives, and I was hungry to create a lasting legacy that would honor the Lord in my area of expertise. It's a moment I will never forget.

Joe passed away on Saturday morning. And from The New York Times, to the Associated Press, to The Nightly News, his passing sent waves of emotion through the country and around the world. Tributes abound online while magazines are scurrying to gather vintage photos of the legend with classic stories and captions. But for my small part, I will always be in his debt for giving me my very first writing job out of graduate school and then for the honor of being the worldwide fitness editor to his magazine. But while he did so much for the temporary body of a country, I will forever remember him struggle down that hall, fighting for every step. God used his loss of movement to help inspire one. I called it PrayFit. Thanks Joe.

--Jimmy Peña


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