The fitness event of the year is coming. For 20 years, Jim Lorimer and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have brought the largest fitness event to Columbus, Ohio.
Just like every year before this, tens of thousands of people will become confused and lost and not know which direction to turn. One of my primary objectives with this article is to try to help you gather your bearings and understand the Arnold prior to coming here.
If you do not have your hotel room, then you are out of luck. The Ohio primaries for the presidential ballot are only a few days prior to the Arnold. There is not a hotel in the city, and for a 50-mile radius for that matter, that is not booked. The Arnold is presently twice the size of the Olympics. We will host approximately 18,000 athletes this year. Most of those events are available for view for just $10. They expect over 180,000 fitness enthusiasts to visit the Arnold Expo in just 3 days.
So if you're coming, get ready to walk and leave the high heels at home. If you're coming into the airport, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time. Remember that the person you might be rude to at the airport, just might be an important person to you someday.
The Columbus International airport has a very simple format. There are three wings/legs to the airport and one central hub. All the airport arrivals and departures are on the upper level and that the baggage claims/pick-ups are on the lower level. There is no way you will park anywhere near the airport.
Once you leave the airport, it connects to a freeway called 670 and if you take it to the West, it will take you directly to the convention Center and the Arnold Expo, get off at the High St. Exit.
Mapquest Directions: Airport To Convention Center.
Columbus is an extremely logical city and the layout plan has been so successful that many major corporate cities try to mirror our freeway system. Downtown Columbus is located in the middle of the circle called the 270 Outer belt.
Set up like crosshairs on a gun scope, the city is split into quadrants with Interstate 71 running north and south and Interstate 70 running east and west. The good news is that most of our streets run parallel to one another.
Major streets that you will need to know the name of are Route 23 (aka High Street) and Broad Street, which is where Veterans Memorial is located. Just a block down from the Arnold Expo, going South is 200 W. Nationwide Boulevard, Nationwide Arena, another location of the Arnold Expo. This Is Where the Columbus Blue Jackets Professional NHL Hockey Team plays, it is huge and you will get lost there if you don't pay attention.
If You Get Lost On The Freeway:
If you get lost inside of the city on a freeway, you will eventually get 270 and normal traffic, you can be anywhere in the city in approximately 30 minutes. During the Arnold, none of our traffic is normal.
About The Arnold Expo In 2008
There is lots of information available on the website www.arnoldsportsfestival.com, however, just let me touch on a few points.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, the weight lifting championships at the Arnold Expo will host the actual Olympic trials. Megan Tornstrom-DeFourny and Mark Cannella have done an amazing effort to expand the Olympic weight lifting to such an incredible level.
David Sandler runs the hidden event of the weekend called the Arnold Strength Training Summit. If you are tired of reading fitness magazine's that contradict themselves from one month to the next, this event is for you.
If you are a personal trainer or a strength coach, you can receive continuing education credits at this event. David who runs www.strengthpro.com and has recently been on the National Geographic specials TV shows on fitness and the science of sport, coordinates this 3-day event.
If you want to ask any question about fitness, just email them or attend their programs and you will be sitting with the best of the best in sports science. The room is filled with Ph.D.'s, various physicians, physical therapist, personal trainers, certified strength and conditioning supervisors (strength coaches), and all types of fitness enthusiast.
The buck stops here and the hype is gone, if you want to know what works, then this is the place to be. Panel discussions are quite common at this event and the strongest in the world align with the biggest in the world and discuss: "How they do it."
The Sports Festival weekend actually begins on Thursday night with the amateur portion of the NPC Arnold competition. Bob Lorimer runs the event in a tight, organized manner, to make way for the pro contest that occur at Veterans Memorial beginning on Friday evening.
Hopefully this year we will get those amateur results posted faster and I will take the steps right now to see that gets done. Moving the events around is actually a logistical nightmare, since the pros begin on Friday on the expo stage and then switch places with the amateur's continuing their finals on the expo stage. Of course this whole thing keeps my medical team jumping in and out of cars and buses over the weekend.
Some of the reason that the Arnold has been so successful over the years is the efforts of individuals who you probably have never heard from, but without them, this great event could never take place. This is the 20th anniversary of the Arnold; individuals like myself volunteer their time every year to produce the largest sports festival in the world. I have been the acting medical Director and Co-Chairman for over 11 years. I actually began my volunteer work with transportation and security, but I had to take a sabbatical to go to medical school.
Founding Fathers Of The Arnold
There are four individuals who have never taken a break and they are Sgt. Doug Grant, who originally began the martial arts portion and now consults is one of the original volunteers from over 20 years ago. He has recently produced a self-defense video available at www.PenumbraDefendYourself.com and is a must have video for the post 911 world.
Another great volunteer is Ron Houser, who has been the transportation chairman and has moved around millions of people over the past 20 years.
Don Caster was one of the original four sponsors of the weekend and now is a consultant for the over 650 booth exhibitors during the fitness expo. Don owns and operates the Raisin Rack health food and grocery store located in Columbus and it is right off the freeway for easy access and can be found at: www.raisinrack.com.
Lastly, Brian Sally was one of the first security detail officers who escorted Arnold around during the weekend. He is still on hand as part of the security detail. These four men are honestly the backbone that make up the strength for the Arnold weekend.
Obviously Mr. Lorimer, whom we all hold dear and admire, steers the efforts of the weekend, but these gentleman stand like our founding fathers for the success of the Arnold weekend.
Lucy Pinney is the eyes, ears, strong leader, and the long time Arnold Expo Administrator. Lucy has worked; 365 days, 24/7 hours a week, to make the Arnold expo the biggest in the world. She is an amazing woman and definitely sits at the right hand of Mr. Jim Lorimer to run the weekend smoothly.
Another person who has been around for the longevity of the Arnold, even prior to that when Columbus used to host the IFBB professional Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitors, which lead to the Arnold is Jim Seitzer.
Jimmy has done so much for this event over the years and currently runs the Arnold Fitness Seminar that comes with the VIP package ticket and is hosted by Arnold himself and includes comments from all the champions over the weekend. Jimmy has been a very successful bodybuilder in his time and has recently made to switch to opera. Sure why not. He is still lifting today and is an amazing man and friend.
One of the last people that I will talk about is Steve Grill, who runs the backstage and has coordinated with NPC/IFBB head expediter Steve Stone. Grill has ran these events from the days of the Olympic lifting events in the early 70's and is another reason that everything runs like clock work.
Volunteer Medical Staff
In a final note on the Arnold, we are always looking for great doctors to join our volunteer medical staff for this weekend. If you are a physician (MD/DC/DO) and would like to work with this large mass event staff, we would love to hear from you. It is likely too late for 2008, unless you live in the Ohio area, but we would love to have you join our team.
Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and put the subject of Arnold Medical Team Volunteer. Please only contact me if you are really a physician, no would-be docs allowed.
Every year the Arnold brings the top competitors to the stage. This year is no different and some of the athletes are worth mentioning. Phil Heath is coming off of his Iron Man victory and will be extremely difficult to beat. Let's remember that he wasn't standing next to Dexter Jackson, who seems to pile up Arnold titles like they have his name stamped on them in mass form.
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Phil Heath At The 2008 Iron Man.
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Kai Greene is likely to come on hard and will likely take the best poser in the show. Kai represents the "Lenny Kravitz" of bodybuilding and has the style and charm to prove it. I recommended Kai to Mr. Lorimer, after he gained his pro-card at the Denver Pro/Am last year. Look for a change in the normal ranking at the Arnold, the groups are not lined up like they were normally.
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Kai Greene At The 2007 Colorado Pro.
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Of course they will have to jump over the mountain known as Iris Kyle and Yaxeni Oriquen. Cathy LeFrancois is back in woman's bodybuilding with her short attempt at figure, which just goes to show you that you can take the girl out of bodybuilding, but you can't take bodybuilding out of the girl. Can you believe Betty Pariso is back and looks that HOT!
Tina Durkin is coming up fast and needs some flight time, but her high flying act is a show stopper. Tracey Greenwood is always impressive as is Julie Lohre, but Kim Klein won this event last year and has made her mark to take it home again.
How can you talk fitness without my dear friend Jen Hendershott, and she might just pull out the stops and kick it off for the home crowd, one last time.
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Jen Hendershott At The 2007 Arnold.
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Women's figure will host some of the new names with some of the more experienced athletes. Gina Aliotti is just too polished to ignore, but Jennifer Gates has torn up the short class myths and just plain old kicked butt. Hey Kristal Richardson was just walking through the crowd at the Arnold last year and I got to see her and her husband for a bit and now she is jumping on the stage.
So if you see some bald guy running around the Arnold carrying my HeadBlade briefcase, just say a quick "Hi", and I am sorry if I don't stop long, I have a lot of athletes and lots of doctors to keep an eye on. Have fun, be patient and visit the Arnold Sports Festival web site to plan ahead.
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