Photos by OHventures
February 28-March 3, 2013
Columbus Convention Center
400 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Ahhh, the Ahh-nold Classic, how I love thee! Truly, I do. I am a fanatic of the Arnold Classic Sports Festival, as I have attended for the past 7 years straight! It's everything that I love jam-packed (literally) into one weekend each year (the first weekend in March) at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in the Short North.
To those who are unfamiliar, the Arnold Classic was created by actor/politician/bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger (one of my heroes) 25 years ago (1988). Columbus was chosen as the location of the event because Arnold had won his first ever bodybuilding competition in this city. The event brings millions of dollars of revenue to the city. It is a yearly event in which 18,000 athletes of all kinds compete over the course of 4 days. Forty-five sports are represented at the event, including everything from bodybuilding to martial arts, gymnastics to table tennis (not kidding). Over 175,000 fitness enthusiasts attend the event each year to watch the athletes compete and to visit the notorious Expo portion on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you are headed to the Expo, you had better not be claustrophobic! Be prepared for some massive crowds full of lots of Affliction and Ed Hardy brand t-shirts, and brushing shoulders - literally - with meatheads and fitness freaks. Of course, not everyone there fits into such a description, but gym rats and bodybuilders are indeed a majority of those in attendance.
A collection of freebies I collected at the Arnold Classic Sports Festival Expo
Hundreds of booths are arranged in rows within the convention center and include various vendors from the fitness universe. People are selling everything from workout clothing to equipment, tooth whitener to plastic surgery services. Most prominently, the booths offer workout vitamins and supplements, including protein, creatine, glutamine, glucosamine, fish oil, and countless others.
Walking up and down the aisles, you are able to sample all of these tasty (and not so tasty) nutrition cookies, drinks, bars, shakes, pills, and powders. Probably the most fun aspect of the Expo is tasting these samples, and filling up bags of more sample packets to take home! If you play your cards right, you can take home so many supplements and protein powder packets to last you for months and months to come! To get the really good stuff, such as cups, shakers, water bottles, t-shirts, and high quality protein and creatine, you will likely have to spend a great deal of time standing in long lines (but it is worth the while!).
Me with Greg Plitt at the Arnold Classic Sports Festival Expo
There are also booths where you can meet and talk with famous (or semi-famous) celebrities from the fitness realm. There are many notable bodybuilders, wrestlers, actors, models, and athletes that you can meet, get photos with, or even get an autograph! I was able to get an autograph of former Ohio State University football player James Laurinaitis; grab a photo with reality television star Greg Plitt (pictured above, of Bravo's "Workout"), and even shake the hand of the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger himself (yes, he DOES attend the event, and if you are as lucky as I was, you might get the chance to see or even meet him).
Arnold Schwarzenegger addressing a crowd at the Arnold Classic
Lou Ferigno, who portrayed the original "Inctedible Hulk" in the hey day (and was a recent contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice), is always situated at the same booth each year, selling "Hulk" memorabilia and signing autographs for fans (below). Aside from Arnold, he is probably the most famous of celebrities you can see at the Classic.
Lou Ferigno signing autographs at the Arnold Fitness Classic Expo
There are also interactive booths and exhibitions at the Expo, such as an enormous rock climbing wall (pictured below), exercise bicycles, and a number of contests (such as on-the-spot push-up contests, weight lifting contests, and a pull-up contest at a United States Marines booth). On the Saturday and Sunday of the Arnold Classic, individuals may also sign up to participate in the Arnold 5K, The Survival Race (an obstacle course much like the Warrior Dash), or the Arnold Classic Pump & Run (in which individuals must bench press their own body weight then run in a 5K). I will be participating in the Pump & Run this year for the first time and will provide a recap to readers!
Even if you do not choose to give these challenges a shot, it's definitely a great deal of fun just watching others attempt these feats. In fact, people watching in general at the Arnold Classic is one of the main highlights of the event! There are some interesting individuals to say the least!
So get inspired to get fit by heading to the Arnold Classic Sports Festival and the Expo!