I just got back from the Arnold Weekend in Columbus, OH and I had to let you guys in on what it is like heading to the biggest weekend in bodybuilding for the first time.
This wasn't only my first time going to the Arnold, this was my first bodybuilding contest/event ever. I have never experienced nothing like it and plan on going every year now. I am going to cover the trip, Friday, and Saturday.
A buddy of mine was going as well and offered to pick me up on the way so we can get to spend some time talking and hanging out for the weekend. His name is John (KissIcon on BodySpace). He came from Richmond, VA to pick me up in Lewisburg, WV.
His total trip up and back was 9 hours each way. That meant a lot to me that we got to hang out and travel together. He is one of my biggest supporters on BodySpace and it was an absolute pleasure to get to know him better.
We drove up, talking about all the people we were looking forward to see, and just talking fitness. We were getting more excited as we were getting closer. Finally we hit town and get settled into our hotels on Thursday night.
I go to the Greater Columbus Convention Center early to get my pass and the first person I meet is the one I wanted to meet more than anyone else. It was Kris Gethin. That was crazy.
I saw him as he was walking towards Metro Fitness to work out. I was amazed that meeting someone like Kris would happen so fast. We chatted for a minute and then he went on to train while I hit the building.
Even though I was surprised about meeting Kris so quick, it turns out that seeing fitness celebrities would be that easy the whole weekend. It was incredible who I was bumping into just passing by. I saw Kurt Angle just before the expo opened up. Kurt is a wrestling legend and one of my favorites ever. It was great to see a TNA superstar at the Arnold.
I also saw up and coming TNA performer Jesse Neal. I always heard that the famous folks just said "Hi", took photos, and that was it. I personally found them to be very polite and had multiple conversations with a lot of them.
Each one of these great people showed amazing class and were great representatives of the bodybuilding/fitness industry. If I listed all the folks I met it would take forever. The biggest names I saw were:
- Ronnie Coleman: Eight time Mr. Olympia and BSN Athlete
- Frank Zane: Three time Mr. O
- Kurt Angle: 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist in Wrestling and TNA Legend
- Derek Poundstone: Strongman Superstar and MHP Athlete
- Victor Martinez: 2007 Arnold Classic Champion and MHP Athlete
- Bob Cicherillo: Host of Pro Bodybuilding Weekly and Bodybuilding.com Athlete
- Marzia Prince: Team Gaspari and 2007 Miss Bikini Universe
- Ava Cowan: Team Gaspari and 2009 Figure Universe Overall Champion
- Jennifer Nicole Lee: BSN Athlete, WBFF Miss Bikini Diva, and 2008 Bodybuilding.com Female Writer of the Year
- Dennis Wolf: BSN Athlete and IFBB Pro Bodybuilder
I met all these people on Friday alone. It was crazy to keep seeing these great ambassadors of the sport left and right. All the booths were busy, especially the bodybuilding.com booth. I never saw anything like it before. Bob Cicherillo, Silvio Samuel, and Jerome Ferguson were there. Charles Glass came by also.
Have you ever heard about all the samples and other goodies that are given away in Columbus? I am here to tell you every bit of it is true. I left with three bags full of stuff. You may not have to buy any supplements for a month if you hit all the booths. Saturday would turn out to be even crazier.
I head back to the expo on Saturday morning and once again I am seeing stars left and right. I see Jamie Eason right off the bat. Pictures do not do that lady justice. She is stunning. I also bumped into Dymatize athlete Andy Haman.
It is hard to move at some points. If you were trying to get to the MuscleTech booth, you were waiting for a while because Jay Cutler was there and everyone had to catch the reigning Mr. Olympia. That had to be the longest line at the expo. It would be either his or Ronnie's.
The booths were still rocking and they gave even more stuff away. It was insane all the crowds at the booths for free samples and shirts. I was at the Bodybuilding.com booth and as soon as I got there, the entire area became surrounded by people.
Flash bulbs were popping like crazy. Wondering why? It was because Sylvester Stallone came by the booth. I was blessed enough to get my photo taken with him. I will never forget it.
At one point it was kind of overwhelming and I needed a break. I went down the street to Metro Fitness and worked out. If you get the chance to hit this gym, do it. It is awesome. I was gone for about 45 minutes. Once I came back, as soon as I walked into the building, I saw Jay Cutler as he was leaving. I got a quick pic of him and he left.
It astounded me that you actually can see these superstars in the lobby. Once I got back to the expo, I couldn't go in. It turns out at that moment, Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the expo and was heading out. I only caught a quick glance as he was leaving. Once he was gone, I was allowed back in and I returned to the Bodybuilding.com booth.
At this point I have figured out that you can never tell what is going to happen over there so I made it a point to hang out over there as often as possible. Even though the crowds were hard to work through, Saturday was definitely the day to be at the expo. If you can only go one day, make it Saturday.
- Sylvester Stallone: Acting Legend
- Jay Cutler: Three Time Mr. Olympia
- Randy Couture: UFC Hall of Famer
- Mike Brown: WEC Featherweight Champion of the World
- Jamie Eason: Bodybuilding.com Athlete and Modeling Superstar
- Dorian Yates: Six Time Mr. Olympia
- Jessie Godderz: GENR8 Athlete
- Tianna Ta: BSN Athlete
- Bill Grant: Bodybuilding Legend, Former Mr. World
- Robert Kennedy: Publishing Legend
I got to meet some Bodyspace people too. Ed (aka oldsuperman) was there as well as Nick Scott (aka TheBeastWCBB) in the Bodybuilding.com booth. It is inspiring to see these great guys and meet them. They deserve all their notoriety.
In a nutshell, this was an experience that I am very happy that I got to be a part of. Something I will never forget as long as I live. Every bodybuilding, fitness, and sports fan needs to be at this amazing expo at least once. If you have never been to Columbus for the Arnold weekend, make sure you do it in 2011. The entire weekend will be filled with memories you will treasure for the rest of your life.
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