On Monday morning, the AMI Fitness Group was dealt a devastating blow—our VP and Editorial Director, colleague, and friend Shawn Perine passed away at the age of 51.
Perine was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on September 22, and had remained upbeat and positive throughout his battle. Perine never drank, smoked, or used drugs, which made the diagnosis so unexpected. In fact, he spent the last 38 years of his life eating clean, pushing himself in the gym, and inspiring others through his commitment to health and fitness.
For decades—as a fitness enthusiast, writer, editor, and later Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Director for Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers, FLEX and Men’s Fitness—Perine became one of the most authoritative voices in our industry.
As a child growing up in Long Island, NY, Perine’s passion for the sport of bodybuilding was fueled by the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron. By the age of 13 he was tearing through every exercise book he could find, and also hitting the gym five days per week in hopes of carving a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would later become one of Perine’s trusted friends.
“Shawn Perine was not only a fantastic ambassador for the fitness crusade and a wonderful editor of Muscle & Fitness, he was a dear friend and a great man,” Schwarzenegger tweeted. “I’m heartbroken, and the world just lost an amazing force. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Although Perine concluded that his body wasn’t suited for the stage, he began to write fervently about bodybuilding, which led to freelance work at FLEX magazine in the ‘90s. Later, his contributions earned him a full-time position as FLEX’s senior writer in California.
In 2011, Perine moved from California back to New York to start his dream job as Editor-in-Chief of Muscle & Fitness. His mission was to “carry the torch lit by Joe Weider” and work hand-in-hand with AMI CEO David Pecker to “spread the gospel of health and fitness to the world.”
“Shawn was unquestionably the finest fitness journalist I have worked with in the 15 years since AMI acquired all the Weider Publications” said Mr. Pecker. “His knowledge of health, training, nutrition, and the sport of bodybuilding was without equal. He was my colleague, my friend, and an inspiration to the anyone who knew him. The industry will miss him. I will miss him."
Outside of the gym, Perine will be remembered for his love of animals, the environment, paleontology, architecture, and, most important, his huge heart. While the fitness community has lost a valuable member, the AMI family has lost a loyal and dear colleague. May our friend rest in peace.
AMI will distribute information about how to make contributions to the American Cancer Society in memory of Shawn Perine in the near future.
"One thought regarding your heart: follow it. Unlike some of your other muscles, it will never lead you astray." —Shawn Perine
Shawn’s passing has elicited a huge response from the fitness community. We’ll continue to update this post as more quotes surface.
“Today I was shocked and saddened to hear the news that our good friend, Shawn Perine, had succumbed to his battle with cancer. I first met Shawn years ago when he was a writer covering bodybuilding contests for FLEX magazine. I was impressed with his knowledge and passion for every facet of the sport. He knew all the athletes dating back to the very beginning and could tell you the results of every Mr. Olympia. That passion grew even more through the years as he rose up to become editor-in-chief, and then chief content director of Muscle & Fitness, FLEX, and Muscle & Fitness Hers. Shawn loved bodybuilding and was dedicated to the fit lifestyle. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.” —Jim Manion, IFBB Pro League and NPC President
Shawn Perine was not only a fantastic ambassador for the fitness crusade and a wonderful editor of Muscle & Fitness, he was a dear friend and a great man. I’m heartbroken, and the world just lost an amazing force. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) December 11, 2017
Shawn Perine wasn’t just a great journalist, he was also a health and fitness enthusiast who shared his knowledge with the world! I was extremely fortunate to have been friends with Shawn and be able to share a lot of laughs. We both loved the movie "Enter the Dragon" so much, I would call him call him Roper and he would call me Williams! I will remember Shawn as the true, kind hearted, genuine, authentic man who was always ripped and could easily make you smile. Thanks Shawn for all the great times and I will see you again brother! — Phil Heath, seven-time Mr. Olympia champion
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) December 11, 2017
Shawn aka “Shawn 2.0” as I commonly referred to him, was a mellow yet very cerebral kind of guy. We would match wits when it came to the sport of Bodybuilding, and yet had a strong mutual respect for each other’s role in the Iron Game. I love that he was passionate about not only the athletes, but also the respect that he had for the historical side of the sport. He was very knowledgeable and that impressed me most about him. He knew what we as athletes went through to look the way we did and was able to convey a lot of our personalities to the masses from a perspective unique to his own personal experiences on diets and training in the gym with us. Shawn will be sorely missed, but he left everyone he touched better off by simply knowing him. — Shawn Ray, hall of fame bodybuilder
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Shawn Perine. Shawn was such a wonderful, thoughtful, humble and charitable person. He was also an immensely talented writer and editor and a great friend to so many. He truly made the world a better place.
— Duke Castiglione (@DukeCastiglione) December 11, 2017
"Shawn Perine was the ultimate ambassador for the magazines that Joe Weider created. He lived and breathed it. Above all else, he was a great friend and a great man. There's no way to replace a guy like Shawn.” — Joe Wuebben, Contributing writer, Muscle & Fitness, FLEX
Shawn Perine was a great man and a great friend. He was a great writer and a fantastic editor. He had a giant heart and fought relentlessly for what was right. He was always there for me. It saddens me to say goodbye to someone who left the world so much better than he found it.
— Joe Manganiello (@JoeManganiello) December 11, 2017
When I think of kind and passionate…I think of Shawn Perine. I’ve known Shawn for over 10 years and have not met anyone more passionate about the sport he worked and lived in. He would always give me real and spot on advice in my career. Life is far too precious and our time on earth too short…Shawn would want us to remember all the good times and cherish the people closest to us. He will always be remembered and dearly missed. — Steve Kuclo, IFBB pro bodybuilder, Weider athlete
This kind man dedicated his life to bodybuilding and fitness. He supported and featured me when all I had was a full head of hair and a set of abs. And still when I had less hair and smoother abs! Good karma and peace to my friend @shawnperine #RIPShawn pic.twitter.com/1Mcfsau3Ah
— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) December 11, 2017
“I met Shawn via his website IronAge in 2002, and not long afterwards we were FLEX writers and fast friends, marveling at all we had in common. We got each other’s arcane references, all of them, from bodybuilding to politics to pop culture. He was the best friend I ever had and more a brother to me than my real brother, but it’s the ultimate tribute to him that there are many who feel the same or something similar. Farewell, my brother.” — Greg Merritt, FLEX senior writer
My heart goes out to the family of @shawnperine - who was truly one of the good guys. He wasn't just a wonderfully talented writer and editor for @muscle_fitness, he was humble above all and always put others first. I will never forget his kindness and friendship. #RIPShawnPerine
— Robert Irvine (@RobertIrvine) December 11, 2017
The fitness industry lost a leader, and the world lost one of its finest. I hope Shawn’s life’s work will remind others to live where your feet are. Enjoy every small blessing. And leave a positive impact on every person you meet, the same as Shawn did. He’ll be sorely missed. — Steve Weatherford, former NFL player
Saddened to hear about the passing of a great friend and great human being, Editor in Chief of Muscle & Fitness, Shawn Perine. My thoughts are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/BUy6LQVjDh
— Triple H (@TripleH) December 11, 2017
I could write countless words about Shawn Perine, editorial director at Weider Publications, who passed away last night after a 2 1/2 month battle against cancer. Yes I could write countless words ..... but not today. They will come later. What always impressed me about Shawn was his enthusiasm, and a young at heart energy that was infectious and beguiling. Flex writer Greg Merritt alerted me to Shawn's writing ability back in 2002. I arranged to meet him at the 2003 Arnold Classic and what was scheduled as a 15-minute meeting turned into a rip-roaring three-hour conversation in which we learned we were kindred spirits. He has passed at 51 but he always looked and acted much younger. Thus there's a tragic irony that in passing at 51 he will remain in our memories as forever young. We will never look upon him as old or world weary. Goodbye my beautiful Forever Young friend. — Peter McGough, former Editor in Chief of FLEX
Shawn, you were a true gentleman and a brother with a kindred spirit and an infinite love for our sport. With you, the legacy of Joe Weider lived on and I only wish you could have stayed a bit longer to see the fruit of your labor and as I think, the best is yet to come. I’m forever grateful for the time you spent with me and honored to have called you my friend. Your spirit, passion, and kindness will be forever missed. Goodbye my friend and rest in peace. — Per Bernal, AMI Staff Photographer & Friend
Ive known Shawn-o for many years, most people know we were very close friends as we both worked for FLEX magazine (along with Greg Merrit (Greg-o), and Dan Solomon (Dan-o) and of course, Peter McGough). We traveled together, put together the Flexy awards, and talked for countless hours about bodybuilding...mostly the old days and Golden era. We met up at the Olympia every year for as far back as I can remember for our annual meal, catching up on life and laughing at our stories and gossip from the industry. I just talked with Shawn-o last week. He was feeling ok and very positive of beating this rare form of lung cancer. We were making plans for me to come see him over the holidays. I'm devastated to know my friend is gone, but promise I, along with the O's, will carry on in his honor all feeling appreciative we had the time with him we did. Love you Shawnooooo! — Bob Cicherillo, IFBB Pro League Bodybuilder, IFBB Pro League Rep, & The Voice of Bodybuilding
The news of Shawn Perine's passing is tough to swallow. For as long as I can remember, Shawn has been such a meaningful part of my life. He was warm, in a gentle, clever, wise sort of way. One of the most gifted writers I've ever known. I can hear his voice. He called me "Dan-o" and to our closest friends, he was "Shawn-o". It was silly, but it never got old. While we grieve, I'm comforted knowing that he made it all the way to the top of his field. He started as a writer (discovered by Greg Merritt) eventually reaching the pinnacle when he was named Editor-in-Chief, the same position once held by his two mentors, Joe Weider and Peter McGough. More importantly, he commanded the respect of all who knew him. Arnold adored him. Just like the rest of us did. His cancer diagnosis shocked all of us. He was always the fittest guy in the room, a physical specimen. Sadly, this is the latest reminder how fragile all of this is. Shawn's favorite place was the gym, but make no mistake about it, his biggest muscle was his heart. I can't believe he's gone. I'm gonna miss him. — Dan Solomon, Publisher/Producer
Shawn Perine was truly one of the kindest guys I have ever met. He loved bodybuilding, loved bodybuilders…I don’t think he can ever ever be replaced. — Steve Weinberger, NPC District Chairman for New York, New England, & New Jersey
When I was a young editor, Shawn took me under his wing. His knowledge of and appreciation for how Joe Weider basically created an industry out of the ether gifted me with a profound gratitude for what we do. When I was downsized by a collapsing budget, his faith in my work sustained my family. Shawn was a brilliant thinker, a lifter's lifter, and a genuine friend to me and many others. We will all feel his loss deeply, as will the fitness world. Shawn, I will miss you, buddy. Thank you for all you have ever done for me and my girls and for giving me a small voice in a crowded space. — Eric Velazquez, contributing writer for Muscle and Fitness
I met Shawn in November of 2011 when he took over as editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness. Almost immediately, I realized I didn't just have a great boss and professional mentor, but a friend for life. I would have thought it strange that I took to him so quickly except for the fact that I soon realized almost everyone else who knew him held him in the highest regard and were fiercely loyal to him. There are countless stories I want to share that illustrate his immense talents, wit, humor, compassion, and generosity, but for now, all I can say is that there is a hole in my heart where Shawn Perine used to be. This is a devastating loss for anyone who knew him. — Matt Tuthill, former deputy editor of Muscle and Fitness
It is impossible to summarize what Shawn Perine meant to me and so many others who were fortunate enough to know him. Even just a cursory glance at social media reveals the outpouring of love and affection that followed his passing from almost every corner of the fitness industry. So much of his influence extended to relationships he nurtured, and he opened doors for many others while asking for nothing in return. It’s difficult to imagine life without him. He was kind-hearted and generous, and damn funny. I’m a better person for having known him. He had a strong social conscience and was passionate about the causes he believed in. He really wanted to make the world a better place. He did. French novelist Gustave Flaubert said: “A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies.” I will miss him very much. — Jim Schmaltz, contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness
I'm not sure that Shawn ever worked with lepers or saved children from a burning orphanage, but there are only so many hours in a day. I do know for a fact that he gave many friends rides home when they lived an hour in the other direction, raised money so that we could continue to live in a world with air, water, and gorillas, and defended helpless old ladies from would-be muggers on the subway. He put everybody else before himself, often to his own detriment, so I wish for his sake that he had been more selfish. But I'm eternally grateful for ours that he wasn't. He was my hero and always will be. — Sean Hyson, Editor-in-Chief of Onnit, former Training Director for Men's Fitness and Muscle & Fitness
Shawn was the most caring, down-to-earth and humble guy. Especially for someone in his position, he was truly one-of-a-kind in this industry and can never be replaced. More than just an editor I had developed a relationship with, he was also a friend who took the time to accompany me on the subway and walk me to my building just to make sure I got there safely. There aren’t enough words to express how much he will be missed and I am forever grateful to have known him. — Natalie Mikolich, founder of NPM PR
What can I say about Shawn Perine that hasn’t been said already? He loved bodybuilding. It went beyond passion, he lived for it. I met Shawn in the early 2000s when I first started working on Olympia Weekend and he was a writer for FLEX. I still remember this young, muscular guy, pen and pad in hand, interviewing Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson, and all the other guys. He was clearly a fan of the sport. There was an easy back-and-forth rapport when he talked to the athletes because they knew that he understood bodybuilding and what it took to be on that stage. And that was the kind of relationship Shawn had with countless people for nearly two decades, from bodybuilders and fitness athletes, to industry personalities, movie and TV stars, and his co-workers at American Media Inc. He “got” people in way that was both familiar and comforting. Shawn was a genuine nice guy, always smiling and ready with a kind word for everybody. But also a hard-worker, the quintessential writer who put his all into every story he penned. And that drive, coupled with his easy-going nature, took him all the way to the top as he became editorial director of Muscle & Fitness, FLEX, and Muscle & Fitness Hers, bringing this world to the next generation. But through it all, he was always that same young, muscular guy, pen and pad in hand, eager to share all things bodybuilding and fitness with the fans, because in his heart that’s what he was too, a fan. Shawn was taken too soon from us, but he will live on through the work he dedicated himself to. We at American Media Inc and Olympia Weekend send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. And we will remember him always. — Robin Chang, VP – AMI Events, American Media, Inc.
Yesterday we said goodbye to a very good friend who lost his battle to cancer. @shawnperine was one of the kindest and most considerate human beings I have known. He was someone that made anyone around him a better person. It was important to Shawn that we all did better as people. That we were kinder and more thoughtful. This world has lost a great person, but his legacy will carry on in life and in fitness. In memory of Shawn, let’s all lead by example and try to do one single thing every day to make this world a better place. See you one day in the Gym of the top floor bud. Until then we are all going to miss you terribly. — Don Saladino, trainer