by Christian Duque
MD was the last bodybuilding magazine still in print, but it too, has seemingly decided to close shop on the print side. Will the magazine go digital? Will the forums continue? The world of bodybuilding and fitness was lucky to have been the recipients of such a long-running, well put-out magazine. This was after all Steve Bleichman’s baby. You had Rick Collins’ column, PJ Braun’s, and countless others. When I stop to think of all the work guys like Ron Harris, Shawn Ray, Big Mike Cox and many others put in, it’s really mind boggling.
This was a magazine that went through stages. At one point in time they were known as the flag bearers for natural bodybuilding. During other eras they were known for being the most hardcore magazine when it came to gear and exotic supplements in the world.
During its height the magazine had well over a hundred pages of pure bodybuilding content plus ads!! The magazine also had a who’s who of top talent, including Mr. Olympia’s, Arnold champions, and even A List movie stars and influencers. The magazine was home to some of the most controversial people in the sport as well. MD wasn’t the cookie cutter magazine. It was a publication that made Gregg Valentino famous, it’s where Dave Palumbo and John Romano came from, and it was the publication that was all about the blue collar bodybuilding fan. It wasn’t a Weider publication. And for a long time it was the place bodybuilding readers could go for the gritty side of the sport. I could tell you so many stories about the forums, my show on MD, and the people I met along the way so why don’t I do just that?
The first thing we need to do is stop talking about MD like it’s in the past. We’ve seen magazines like FLEX, Muscle & Fitness, and others go from print and digital to fully digital. This could be the same transition for Muscular Development. I’d hold off from calling it an evolution because I’m still a creature of habit. I enjoy print. I like holding books and magazines in my hands. I enjoy flipping through pages, collecting things, and getting autographs. You can’t exactly do that with a website. Therefore I’d choose not to describe going from print to digital as an evolution, but it might be the way of the world these days. It just is what it is. Perhaps MD will go fully digital, but maybe it’ll disappear. For now, let’s just assume it’s going to be online only. We’ll come back to why I seriously doubt we’ve seen the last of the publication.
I have so many memories from the last of the mohicans. I had my own program, MD No Bull Weekly, powered by Iron Mag Labs. I used to love doing that show back during the IronMag TV days. I used to look forward to making this video each and every week. Whether I was on the road covering a bodybuilding show, at my parents house, or sitting at my private office in Louisville, KY, it was my opportunity to talk about all things bodybuilding. Not only that but I could see myself on the cover of the website each week. Talk about living out my dreams. I had always dreamt of having a program on a website that made so many superstars in the sport. I was able to work closely with Jordan Blechman and I’d talk to Steve at least once or twice a month.
And if you know anything about talking to Steve, you’d know that he’s beyond sophisticated and articulate. We’d talk about where the sport was going, wine, the medical journals. The time just flew by. Some calls would go beyond three hours. I’d compare the conversations to talking to my buddy Robert Dimaggio or the great Wayne DeMilia. Other notables would be Sugar Shawn Ray or the late great Bob Bonham. Steve is it. He’s the O.G. of the bodybuilding magazine game and his love for the sport is unparalleled. Unless he’s sold the magazines, I can’t imagine he’s going to put them to bed entirely.
And what about the boards?! The forums were an absolute nuthouse!! I used to get into it with people all the time. I remember going at it with EVERYBODY and it didn’t matter one bit that I had a show on MD or not. Everyone had to take it and if you couldn’t, oh fucking well. If you had thin skin you weren’t going to do well. Then again, if you had thin skin and you lost your shit, that made for tremendous entertainment value for everyone else. I know it sounds pretty fucked up, but watching somebody have a meltdown is better than any movie at the theater. And here and there the person having a panic attack over a post or a job was none other than yours truly. And you know what? I couldn’t wait to get back on the fucking message boards. Lol!!
Every so often someone would get put in time out or banned. Then you had people looking for new forums to call home. It could get pretty dramatic, but then again those were the days. If it weren’t for those heated forum fights I wouldn’t have met amazing people I call friends today, like SUGAR SHAWN RAY and BIG MIKE COX. I’d take a small caliber round for those guys. Lol. They’re seriously good dudes, but we had some pretty bad spats beforehand. And they were awesome!! Just imagine getting insulted and having to sit there and being totally powerless to do anything about it. What are you going to do break your keyboard? LMAO
You had everyday people like me, you had folks who’d been competing for years, and you even had huge names in the sport. Everyone – and I mean EVERY-FUCKING-BODY was at MD. Sadly, the forums have been down for a few days and people are assuming for the worst. Maybe they’re updating them, maybe there’s a glitch. It doesn’t have to spell disaster, necessarily. People need to relax a little.
With the announcement that the magazine was ceasing print circulation and with reports that the boards were down many have assumed for the worst. I’m here to tell you why I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
Even if the print side of the brand is done, there’s so much goodwill that’s been generated over the years that the name is worth a tremendous amount. Just think about how many supplement companies have advertised with MD. For big companies, ad money is a necessary write-off. They need to be in places where bodybuilding fans congregate.
I can’t tell you the last time I bought a copy of MD and it’s not because I wouldn’t gladly pay 5, 6, or 7 dollars. It’s simply because I stopped seeing it in places. When Barnes & Noble stopped stocking its shelves that was about it for me. That was the last sure bet I had. Walgreens hasn’t had a fitness magazine in years. I no longer saw it at airports, convenience stores, or even newspaper kiosks. It’s not that I didn’t want to buy it – I couldn’t find it. That said, I visit the website several times a week – every week. And I know people that log in daily. You can’t just ignore that.
MD will likely get a makeover and press on as a digital powerhouse. There’s too much advertising revenue to pass up and their programs are great. When they do contest coverage – it’s spot on! I expect big things to come and I’d like to assure those thinking MD will go the way of the dinosaurs to just RELAX! This was bound to happen. Steve held out as long as he could and God Bless him for that, but it was time. It’s probably been time about 2-3 years or 5-10.
MD defied the times for as long as they could.
Back in the day when there were wars between Weider and MD, who would have thought that MD would have outlasted FLEX? And not by a few months, but by YEARS! Steve and the MD Crew deserve tons of accolades. They are very much the last of the Mohicans! I look forward to what the future brings for the most HARDCORE BODYBUILDING MAGAZINE and DIGITAL HUB of all time!