When we think of Arnold Schwarzenegger we think of bodybuilding and of course action movie films. Arnold is also co-host of the Arnold Sports Festival held every year in Columbus, Ohio. This year’s event was held February 27 thru March 2. It is the largest multi-sport festival in the country drawing more than 175,000 fitness fans and 18,000 competitors and I was there (not as a competitor and not really as a fan – but there out of curiosity).
It’s much more than bodybuilding. The festival showcases 50 sports and events including 14 Olympic events. I describe it as the confluence of sport and the circus – females looking like men and men looking like aliens – part sport, part freak show. Freakish in the sense it is amazing what some of these competitors can do and what they have done to their bodies. Men lifting up to 115o pounds in the Strongman competition for instance, and muscles bulging from places you never thought imaginable. Same for some of the fans and those manning the exhibit booths. One fan sported a shirt that said, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”. Not sure I buy it but for some reason it caught my attention.
Not only are there so many competitors and sports, there were over 800 exhibitors touting their sports drink, nutrition and protein bars, fitness equipment, fitness apparel, and so on. I ate enough samples of protein supplements I don’t have to eat for few days – and they all pretty much tasted the same – though there was a cheesecake bar that was pretty good.
To give you an idea of the mind-set at the Festival here are some of the names of the exhibitors: Spar Buddy LLC, Muscle Egg, Iron Angel and Beast Apparel Co., Bigger Than Gods Apparel, Iron Rebel Power Gear, Ironville Clothing, Beast Sports, Raging Rhino Sports Apparel, MuscleMed, BADDASS Nutrition, Shields of Strength, HeadRush Apparel, Gorilla Wear, Powerblock, and Hardcoregear.com
I was able to catch some of the Strongman competition, boxing, marital arts, and skipping rope competitions. There are also archery, wrestling, cheerleading and dance, table tennis, run/walk events.
There are activities for the fans and spectators where you can test your skill and strength. Also, the Festival is not just for adults. Many of the competitions are for kids and teenagers.
If you don’t like breathing stale air, constantly feeling you’re swimming upstream against traffic trying to navigate from one place to another, and having loud music blasting at you from 360 degrees then best stay home.
But, if you appreciate competitors who really devote and dedicate themselves to their sport (mostly as amateurs) and appreciate the magnificance of the human body it is worth attending at least once. And, if you simply just like to people watch you can’t beat it – far better than the shopping malls.
Just a hint to anyone over 40 – there’s no reason the body has to get so soft or saggy with age. In addition to the competitors, there were plenty of fans – men and women over age 40 there who looked great with well toned bodies. If you need inspiration to get yourself in shape there’s no better place to go than the Arnold Sports Festival.
The Arnold Sports Festival: Why Columbus?
I now live in Columbus, trained here, always liked it, and it has felt the most like “home” of all the places I’ve lived which have been many. It’s a very comfortable city to live with enough offerings – big enough but not too big. If the weather was better, far more people would live here. And, of course it is home to the best “professional” football team in the state of Ohio. But, why Columbus and the Arnold Sports Festival? I’ve heard different stories but will direct you to this link that seems most authoritative.
As for me and next year’s Arnold Sports Festival? I’ll be baaaack! Maybe as a competitor, but I don’t think tiddlywinks is one of the events at the Ahhnold Sports Festival.