An Unforgettable Experience At The 2008 Iron Man & Fit Expo!

The Iron Man is no longer merely just another bodybuilding contest. It has grown over the years into one of the top expo weekends in the industry. Here’s my take leading up to the competition, during, and after. It was unforgettable!

After a grueling 18 hours of traveling I had finally completed my trans Atlantic and north American trek to the Mecca, and what better weekend to endure such travel than that of the Pro Iron Man. One of bodybuilding's longest running contests which is now in its 18 year and traditionally kicks off the annual IFBB pro season.

A contest which is stepped in history with past winners; including IFBB Hall of Fame member Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler and Chris Cormier to name but a few, is as prestigious a contest to win as you will get and befits its place as the first show of the pro tour.

Now in the 8th year of the 21st century the Pro Iron Man is no longer merely just another bodybuilding contest. It has grown over the years into one of the top expo weekends in the industry. So much so that it has outgrown it's previous and traditional home of Pasadena, and moved onto the more up-market, Staples Centre in downtown LA, home of the Lakers, WWE events and host to the X-Games!!

Well enough of that, now back to the bodybuilding weekend. I finally made it through the rush hour traffic from LAX to Venice, and my first port of call - Gold's Gym to have quick peek to see who was in town - and of course wherever there is a Pro Bodybuilding contest, the one and only Kris Gethin can't be too far away. Low and behold there he was blasting out legs as soon as he could. I, however, was far too exhausted after my travels and settled for some steak and rice from the Firehouse and a few hours sleep.

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Friday
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It was finally Friday morning and the true buzz of the weekend was in full effect as I text messaged Kris at 05:30 suggesting we train at 6, we finally made it to the Coffee Bean on main by 9:30, where we purchased two bottles of... wait for it... "Fat Free Water," who would have thought it, water minus the fat, ingenious.

We finally made it to Gold's where we were greeted at the door by the legend that is Charles Glass and we had a brief conversation about the show and who was looking good and what not. We also looked back at the Golden era; the whole conversation was truly motivational and just added fuel to the fire of our Celtic spirits, so we rushed in to bang out some chest and triceps.

The atmosphere in the gym was electric, with the who's who of the industry floating around and catching up. Notable personalities include, photographers Kevin Horton and Isaac Hinds, fellow IFBB judge Lee Thompson, Pro Bodybuilding Weekly's Dan Solomon and Bob Chick, and some guy who kept sneaking around in the background as Kris and I were trying to workout, a guy who goes by the name of Jay Cutler. Think some of you might have heard of him.

Workouts done we took the plunge and hit up the traditional bodybuilding eatery that is the firehouse, after fueling up on some "Bob Bowels," as we fired jokes across the table, we finally moved on to the Staples Centre for day 1 of the expo, where the fans had already began to flock.


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Lonnie Teper & Bob Cicherillo.

To say I was impressed with the whole set up would indeed be and understatement, especially since I have seen the expos grow over the last few years.

The whole setup was reminiscent of both the Arnold and Olympia weekends which is befitting the location since we were now in the global epicenter of the fitness industry. And as a fan there were plenty of booths to visit, freebies to be collected and shows to see including some powerlifting, strongman and some MMA, as well as numerous industry superstars both past and present.

Some of the superstars who were on hand for photographs and autographs, included The Black Prince himself Robbie Robinson, The Dragon Flex Lewis, Jamie Eason, Shawn Ray, Marika Johansson, Cathy LeFrancois, Rich Gaspari, and list goes on and on.


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Jamie Eason.

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    Lonnie Teper's traditional weigh-in/press conference finally got underway on the Expo stage, where most decided to stay under wraps until show day, even Gustavo chose to stay covered. However, Troy Alves decided to give the fans a sneak peak of his hard work, and I must say I was impressed, probably the best I have seen him in a few years, unfortunately he didn't bring the goods come show day and looked to have over carbed.

Gustavo Troy
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Gustavo Badell & Troy Alves.
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    Another notable mention from Fridays weigh-in is none other than King Kamali, who stated that he had not slept in 4 months due to the birth of his daughter (congratulations by the way King). King had been unusually quiet during the run up to the show, there were no ludicrous statements such as the time he said he was going to beat Shawn Ray in 2001, but then he took the mic and said that he was not one, but two football fields improved than his best ever - it was all down to his guru, who shall remain nameless.


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King Kamali.
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    With the Friday events coming to an end, it was time to eat, catch up with old friends and make some new ones, and retire until show time!

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Saturday
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By Saturday morning the excitement had built to its pinnacle, and everyone had their top 5 predictions. Names like Phil Heath, Silvio Samuel, Toney Freeman and Gustavo were on everyone's lips but most everyone was eagerly awaiting the unveiling of Phil "The Gift," Heath's new and improved physique, and he didn't disappoint.


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Phil Heath At The 2008 Iron Man.
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He had stood on the scales the night before and weighed in at 240+ (albeit fully clothed). Either way, he was, to paraphrase King Kamali, "two football fields ahead..." and got 2 callouts, I believe. He has truly included himself as not only a forerunner for the Arnold (which by the way, I think he will win), but also as a legitimate contender for the Mr. Olympia, wether or not he can peak again remains to be seen.

IFBB veteran Gustavo Badell showed the fans why he is the Freakin' Rican as he simply got better and better as the show went on.


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Gustavo Badell At The 2008 Iron Man.
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Out of the 32 competitors on stage few looked out of place, especially England's Troy Brown, who in my opinion was seriously overlooked and could have placed in the top 15 without hesitation. Unfortunately he was lost in the crowd of physiques on stage.


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Troy Brown At The 2008 Iron Man.
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Another of the overlooked physiques was that of Big Will Harris, loosing a top 10 spot to King Kamali. Mind boggling stuff eh!? Big Will also had an awesome "Big Pimp'n style" routine. He was also breakin' it down and really giving the crowd their money's worth, but again was beaten to the prize by King for the best presentation award, I personally felt it was a gift.


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Will Harris At The 2008 Iron Man.
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The show ended as expected, with the top 5 being spot on apart from Silvio's 4th place finish, he was a definite 3rd and even pushed Gustavo for the 2nd place spot, but that's how the cookie crumbles!


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Silvio Samuel At The 2008 Iron Man.
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What else is there to say about the new 2008 Pro Iron Man Champion Phil Heath? He brought back memories of the 1993 rendition of the same contest where, most bodybuilding pundits say the most perfect bodybuilding physique of all time was on display, through the medium of Flex Wheeler! He could not replicate that package again, but can Heath?


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Phil Heath At The 2008 Iron Man.
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As the show was drawing to a close, I hovered around backstage taking some photo's and talking with the guys. Some were baffled by where they placed, which is the usual at any bodybuilding contest and others were quite content with partaking in such a prestigious event. Those hungry enough will continue on and maybe secure an Olympia spot later in the pro tour, while others will watch from the stands like all the other fans.

2008 Iron Man Pro Champion Phil Heath!
2008 Iron Man Pro
2008 Iron Man Pro Champion Phil Heath!
Photo Courtesy Of Isaac Hinds.
Week #101 - 2/19/2008
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Phil Heath's 2008 Iron Man Routine.
Watch More Iron Man Routines Below.

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Sunday
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The weekend drew to a close on the Sunday with the last day of the expo, and to my surprise it was a busy day. I heard Lonnie Teper say at lunch on Saturday that near 15,000 fans had already been through the doors, so I'm guessing the final figures were at least double that!

As busy a weekend as it was there was still some buzz in the air on Sunday and the conversations moved to: "Can Dexter beat Phil at the Arnold?" And in my mind, after an unplanned guest spot on stage, Melvin Anthony looks to be in the running too.

Melvin was looking large and in charge, as he presented King with his best presentation award, he also decided to break it down and took King to school on the art that is stage presentation. If the 2008 Pro Iron Man is anything to go by this is going be a great year for bodybuilding, and I am eagerly looking forward to the Arnold February 29th thru March 2nd in Comumbus, Ohio!

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Men's Finals Posing Routines: Top 10
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