Bob gave me a lot of my “firsts” in fitness. First exposure to fitness girls who looked like me and inspired me to compete. First exposure in a magazine. First layout in a magazine. First Arnold and booth work experience. Because of him, MuscleMag and Oxygen magazine, I would not be competing today. I am forever grateful to him, his vision and his kindness for giving a small-town girl from the Maritimes a chance to shine.
– Allison Ethier, fitness model
Bob was in love with his work
Robert was such a sweet soul and charismatic individual. He was so down to earth and in love with his work. He gave me my first chance to be in Oxygen. He personally picked me up at the airport, waiting for me at the baggage claim; I will never forget this day. Never.
And there is not a month that I wouldn’t say thank you to him for being part of my success! I kept calling him “Mr. Kennedy.” He kept saying, “Call me Bob, will ya!”
How can you not be blown away when “Bob” is also participating at your Oxygen photo shoot, waiting for the right image – priceless!
This man left his footprint in the fitness world, and he will forever be remembered in our hearts.
– Michele Levesque, fitness model
He hired me on the spot
I will never forget the first day I met Robert. It was over 14 years ago when I walked into the old office building on Airport Road – the day that changed my life. Despite having just graduated from Journalism school, I felt quite unprepared when I entered the MuscleMag International headquarters. I would have died for any job in the magazine world at the time. All I needed was a chance, and Bob is the one who gave it to me. I had no real work experience and very little professional writing experience, but as soon as I met Bob, I knew I had found my niche. After spending two hours with Bob, he hired me on the spot.
A short time after joining the company, Bob approached me about starting a mainstream men’s magazine. I eagerly took on the challenge and we started American Health & Fitness magazine. His ability to see my potential continued to blow me away. Five years later, the position of editor-in-chief of Oxygen became available. Bob had faith in me even when I didn’t. If something didn’t work, we’d try something new. I learned so much from Bob about life and work. He was my mentor, my boss and ultimately my friend. I will never forget how much it meant to me when Bob and Tosca flew to Bahamas to attend my wedding in 2002. Bob said, “Of course we’re going – we can shoot on the beach!”
There was never a dull moment when Bob was around – even at times when he would challenge my cover photo choices, or remind me to “Stick with your diet girl!” or make sure I did a little weight training at least every day. Bob was unique and definitely a “Tough Love” kind of guy. But no one can deny that he knew what he was talking about when it came to “losing the flab and tightening the right spots.” He believed in healthy living and strengthening the inside as well as the outside.
I will always cherish the time we spent mulling over photos, arguing about the next theme of an issue, and traveling to the Arnold Classic and Olympia for photo shoots and some fun. I owe a ton to you!
– Kerrie Lee Brown, former editor-in-chief of Oxygen, founding editor of American Health & Fitness(AHF), assistant editor at MuscleMag International (RKP, 1998–2006)
Bob’s legacy will live on
I have had the pleasure of meeting Bob a few times. Oxygen magazine was the first fitness magazine I ever read, and I started subscribing in 1997! From there, I learned how to live healthy and how to change up my weight-training routines. I am very thankful to him for his hard work and generosity when it came to spreading the word of health and fitness. I am sad to hear of his passing, but his legacy will live on.
– Nicole Wilkins, fitness model
Bob and the Oxygen girls
As I sit down to write about Bob Kennedy, I’m having a difficult time knowing exactly where to begin. What is there to say about someone who was so integral to revolutionizing an industry? A man who was essentially responsible for a large part in helping me develop what my career is today as a fitness model and author?
One of my very favorite memories of Bob was actually meeting him in person. This is going back to almost 2004. I had already been featured in Oxygen once in “Future of Fitness,” and I was competing in the Canadian Nationals in Fitness. Bob had been asked to give a seminar (that anyone could attend) on the basics of becoming a fitness model. At that time, we were all aspiring to be Rachel Moore, Amy Fahdli and Marla Duncan. I remember walking into the room where Bob’s talk was being held and choosing a place to stand nearest the wall, as the seminar was standing room only.
I, along with every other hopeful female in the room, listened with rapt attention to every nugget of insight Bob afforded us that day: “No phone calls,” “Stay in shape,” “Have current photos taken,” and most importantly, “Be honest with yourself.”
After all was done, Bob lingered behind because many of us wanted the opportunity to meet the man behind what most of us (still) considered the “Holy Grail of Fitness” – Oxygen magazine – and to maybe get his honest “Tough Love” on what he thought our chances might be of one day gracing one of his magazines.
I was determined to wait. Finally, it was my turn to face Robert Kennedy himself. I introduced myself. He looked at me, paused, turned to the person standing to his right while gesturing at me with his hand and said, “This girl. She might have the face, but this girl has the right clavicle to do well as a fitness model.”
Bob then requested that I, along with Tosca Reno, Maggie Diubaldo, Monica Brant and Davana Medina be featured on the cover of Oxygen magazine’s 75th issue special. Such an honor!
It was Bob and the Oxygen girls – it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed as hard as I did those few days. Random funny: Maggie and I were chatting during a photo break and Bob wandered over to us and inquired as to how our “abs stayed engaged all the time,” and then wondered whether, if we tried hard enough, we could flatten them out. We definitely had a silly time trying, for no reason other than to contribute to the positive, relaxed, fun environment we were all in that day.
Looking back, I see that so much has changed since that day – but Bob’s message in his work and life remain a constant: “Be honest with yourself and open your arms to life’s joys, passions, tears and laughter.”
Guess what, Bob? My abs are still engaged.
– Alicia Marie, fitness model
Bob’s big dreams
One of my favorite memories of Bob is from a few years back when we first got news that we’d outgrown the old building across the street and they’d signed a deal to lease out a much larger, two-floor building just a short walk away.
Bob came into my office and told me to grab Stacy Kennedy, Diane Hart and former creative director Steph Bratt, and to put on our jackets. Then, the five us bolted excitedly across four lanes of traffic towards our new building.
Once inside, we explored the vacant building’s two floors like young kids. The floors were still concrete, not a cubicle in sight, and the walls totally bare. Bob took us on the grand tour of the offices, warehouse and even the future photo studio. He explained where everything would go, what colors the walls would be painted, and that we’d each get our own office, complete with new furniture and windows. It was such an exciting and promising time – and an extremely rewarding one for him, I imagine; all of his hard work was paying off, the company was growing and the four of us were being treated to an exclusive sneak preview of our future at RKP. We’ll certainly miss your whimsy and your big dreams Bob, and we’ll continue to dream big and work hard towards them.
* Savings based on US cover price. US funds only. Oxygen is
published 12 times per year. Canadians: $15.00 S&H (includes GST or
HST where applicable) is added to the price. Please allow up to 6 weeks
for delivery of your first issue.