Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ben Weider Dead At 85

Anybody who's ever picked up a barbell with more than a passing level of commitment will be interested to learn of the passing of one of the greatest advocates of weight training.

MONTREAL (AFP) - A legend for helping to turn bodybuilding into a worldwide fitness phenomenon, Ben Weider died overnight in a Montreal hospital, it was announced Saturday.
He was 85.
Weider and his older brother Joe founded the International Federation of Body Building in 1940, and spent six decades promoting the sport once "reviled" as a "fringe activity," according to a statement by Weider Health and Fitness.

I'm ambivalent about the achievements of the Weider brothers. Without them, lifting weights might well have remained a marginal, suspected homoerotic activity, as opposed to being widely practiced, and thus benefiting millions, from weekend warriors to professional athletes.

On the other hand, the Weider's also pioneered the nutritional supplement industry, 99% of which is hype, snake oil, and unnecessary for even the hardest training athletes. Related to this is the hypocritical acceptance of steroids and drugs in bodybuilding since the late 1950's while publicly denouncing them. The sordid world behind the curtain of professional bodybuilding is far removed from the pursuit of health and vigor practiced by contemporaries of Weider like Jack LaLanne.

In the end, you could probably say of Ben Weider, as you could of most of us, that he endeavored to make his positive contributions outweigh the negatives.

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