Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Arnold Sports Festival 2009

We slipped away for a few days this past weekend to attend The Arnold Sports Festival , held in Columbus, Ohio. It was our first time to attend. What an event! I'll attempt to give you some highlights and will share a few pictures, but you really have to see it for yourself to appreciate it. The event started as a one day male bodybuilding event in 1989 by a partnership between Jim Lorimer and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and was called the Arnold Classic. It has since grown into a multi-sport festival over 3 days long.

Activities include amateur and pro male and female bodybuilding, figure, fitness, amateur bikini (new this year), powerlifting, boxing, grappling, mixed martial arts, gymnastics, table tennis, weightlifting, armwrestling, archery, cheerleading, dance, youth dancesport, deadlift and bench press contests, wrestling, an educational summit, an active aging festival, party with the pros, racewalking (also new this year), a 5K run, and 5K pump and run, a fitness fashion show and a three day expo of 700+ vendors. The Governator himself shows up on Saturday and the expo tickets (including most of the sports activities) were only $10 a day!

We were able to see a friend compete in the amateur figure competition and also got to see some world records broken in the strong man competition. Approximately 17,000 athletes from all over the world come to compete and participate. We watched some weightlifting competitions covering all ages, where even an 87 year old man was doing snatches and clean and jerks! There's something going on in pockets of space all over the convention center and a few other buildings every day. It was quite a weekend!

First, let's talk about bodybuilding. We walked in the Expo the first day and on the first aisle ran into Jay Cutler, Mr. Olympia 2006, 2007 and a former Arnold Classic winner. I had to take Jimmy's picture with him, and he was a really personable guy.

And these traps and arms are off season?!?!

We also met Dexter Jackson, Mr. Olympia 2008. For some reason, all the bodybuilders had huge watches. I guess the bigger the arm, the bigger the watch!

I must mention Lou Ferrigno, the incredible hulk. He looks great at age 57 and is much taller than I imagined.

There were male and female bodybuilders of all shapes and sizes at the show, competing and in the vendor booths. I don't think my camera memory card could have held all the inches of biceps and quads we witnessed. I have an appreciation for what it takes to build muscle, strip fat and go through the competition process. Some are tremendous athletes, and some are just jacked up. For that all I can say is Holy Steroids!

Now let's talk food. One of my favorite highlights was meeting and talking with Tosca Reno, creator of The Eat Clean Diet. This woman literally changed the way we eat for life, and I was excited to be able to tell her so. She is quite beautiful and a very gracious lady. Her story is amazing as she didn't start her own transformation until her forties and is now pushing fifty. Wow.

It was interesting how all the hotels and even the convention center made an effort to have extra protein on hand (they all advertised grilled chicken breast) and there were even hard-boiled eggs to be found. There was a really cool, one-stop-shop style market with every kind of food you can imagine being served, groceries, sundries, etc. called the North Market. We ate the best bison I've ever tasted at Ted's Montana Grill, just across from Nationwide Arena, where events were being held and Rampage Jackson fought Jardine in a UFC fight Saturday night (and won). I do have a confession though; we slipped in a great meal at La Fogata Grill (Mexican) and topped it off with salted caramel ice cream from Jeni's Ice Creams the last night we were there! Fortunately the weather was fantastic and we could walk everywhere we went, so that helped counteract the carborama.

Now for the expo. If you love sensory overload type events with huge crowds this is for you. (I happen to love it, the same way I love the chaos of the Las Vegas strip). There was an overabundance of supplement companies giving out samples of fat burners and other chemicals that do God-knows-what to your body, but there were others that had some very cool stuff. One vendor had The TRX Suspension Trainer System set up with a really fit guy doing demonstrations. We had already discovered this but it confirmed we want to get one as our present to each other for our anniversary. What, you don't think that's romantic? I was surprised though that only 2 vendors were highlighting kettlebells. I think they are still an underappreciated tool in the fat loss arsenal for anyone.

Overall this was a fun event for all ages. It definitely provided some renewed motivation and encouragement for me. Columbus is a nice, hospitable city with friendly people and we were in a very clean, safe area. We would definitely go back, so I would recommend it!

This post contains an affiliate link for the TRX Suspension Training System. The Eat Clean Diet book can be found in my Amazon Store. Please see my disclosure statement.

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