Proximity effects and exchange coupling across interfaces of hybrid magnetic heterostructures present unique opportunities for functional material design. In this review, we present an overview of recent experiments on magnetic hybrid materials in which magnetism was controlled by proximity to an active material. In particular, we discuss interfacial strain coupling of ferromagnetic materials in contact with a material undergoing a structural deformation. Bilayers containing VO2 and V2O3 as active materials are shown to strongly affect the magnetization and coercivity of ferromagnetic materials due to stress anisotropy caused by a temperature-dependent structural displacement in the oxide. The possibilities of tuning the system by sample morphology and materials choice are discussed in detail. In addition, we highlight a length-scale competition between magnetic and structural domains which leads to a maximum change in the coercivity in a narrow temperature window of the vanadium oxide phase transition.