2011 Arnold Sports Festival
There was a whole lot of muscle in downtown Columbus over the weekend. For the 23rd year, Arnold and his entourage were in town for the massive Sports Festival that bears the governator’s name.
The event has grown to feature 46 different sports and events, including 13 Olympic sports and expo space with over 700 fitness and nutrition vendors. I spent the majority of my time at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which was home to 22 different events including the Arnold Fitness Expo, where a $15 ticket got you at least twice that much in product samples and promotional items. The expo is the ultimate in people-watching as bikini-clad beauties and body-builders with biceps as big as my head vied to show off the latest in nutrition products and fitness trends.
After a few laps around the expo floor, I made my way over to the Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championships. In addition to seeing Arnold in person, I marveled as the strongman competitors pumped out rep after rep, lifting the rear of a Ford Focus – yeah, the actual car. From there, I checked in on the power lifting, where I witnessed male and female competitors from all over the world lifting more than twice their body weight. I also stopped by to see the Olympic weightlifting, a bit different than the power lifting and just as impressive. The CrossFit challenge, where individuals compete in a “standardized” (if jumping walls and climbing ropes can be considered standardized) set of exercises. I’m pretty sure I broke a sweat just watching this one. To be the winner you have to complete the set of exercises in the lowest amount of time. I think all those competitors are winners.
A surprising highlight was the gymnastics challenge. I had never before attended a gymnastics event in person and to see the display of strength and balance required to be a competitive gymnast gave me a new appreciation for the art. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was to see the faces of the Marine core recruiters when one of the female gymnasts knocked out 30 plus pull-ups to throngs of onlookers.
With so much taking place throughout the weekend I felt like I barely had time to take in the original intent of the Arnold Sports Festival, bodybuilding. As I look back though, it’s not that I didn’t take it in, it’s actually what brings 175,000 fans to Columbus every year. It’s taking place around you the whole time you’re there, with the athletes and competitors amongst you and accessible as you walk the expo floor and halls of the convention center.
Put next March’s event on your calendar. There’s really nothing like this in the country. Make a weekend of it because The Arnold Sports Festival really is too much “sporting” for just one day.