By Martin Klein
The Arnold Classic, wow, what can I say? In my gym, more people talk about the Arnold Classic than they do about the Olympia. When I found out I would be going to the show with all expenses paid by my boss, I was over the moon.
The Arnold Classic is a show organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Years ago he had won in Columbus and had vowed to come back to the city and have his own event. True to his word, he did just that.
The event consists of an Expo with hundreds of exhibitors, the Arnold Classic Men's Bodybuilding show, The Miss International, Miss Fitness International, The Arnold Figure, Arnold Strongman and Armwrestling competition.
The Arnold is held in Columbus, Ohio, USA. The flight is around 11-14 hours from the UK, depending on where you fly from and where you change for Columbus. By the way, the Arnold is at the end of February and Columbus is COLD in the minus figures.
Let me tell you that this show is a massive event for Columbus as a city and Arnold is like god to them. There are bodyguards and police all around him.
We were staying at the Sheraton which was about a 20 minute cab ride away ($25). The Expo is at the Columbus Convention Centre (adjacent to the Hyatt Hotel) downtown and also at the Veteran's Memorial Centre a few blocks away.
All the major US supplements brands were there with their booths and their GIRLS! I had never ever seen so many "fit" (in every way) girls in my life. The most popular booths were without a doubt the booths with the most girls and especially the girls who were wearing the least.
Call them celebrities or top athletes, they were there. Most supplement companies had their own "name" in the booth, signing (or shall I say selling) their photos and autographs.
You had people like Ronnie Coleman, Lee Priest, Lou Ferigno, Lee Apperson, Amy Fadhi and so on. These bodybuilders and athletes were like superstars to the spectators.
I have never been a big celebrity hunter, so maybe I am not the best person to comment, but I was a little bit freaked out by just how much these men and women were worshipped by the people at the expo.
There were lines and lines of people all waiting to pay for a signed autograph/photograph of their favourite star. I even saw a couple of guys stopping a fitness girl, asking for her autograph which she would not give unless they paid $10 first!
Of course there were a lot of other athletes who were not into this as much. I was however very much surprised to see just what a big game of "names" the supplements industry in the US has become.
It seemed that as a company, you are as good as the "name" you sponsor. You had people like Lee Priest who used to be sponsored by Prolab, now sponsored by Twinlab, with more or less the same slogan about how they got big using xyz supplements.
I can see the skepticism of people when they see a top bodybuilder being sponsored by a company here in the UK. However, let me tell you that the UK is nothing like the USA. In the UK at least with some supplements companies the sponsored athletes really do use their supplements. I am not saying that they don't do this in the US, but anyone with their eyes open can see that it is on a different level over there.
For a small fee of around $30-$50 you can be a VIP and have your picture taken with Arnold. I thought hey I can go for that. Little did I know that hundreds of other people were also VIPs!!! So about 1.5 hours after queuing up, I finally got to the end of the line and had my 3 seconds with Arnold!
Even though the Arnold Picture event was like sheep lining up to be slaughtered, every person came out clutching their photo with both hands as if it was a winning lottery ticket.
In the queue I got talking to some people who say they have their picture taken every year with Arnold? I was like, why? Once I can understand, but every year?!
The prejudging is done in the different venues and the main show is at the Veteran's Memorial Stadium.
The lighting is not as good as most bodybuilding shows and I think this is because they need it that way for the Television Cameras.
The show itself was a fantastic event. Too often bodybuilding shows seem to go on forever with so many different classes to get through. The thing I liked about the Arnold was that you had the best and biggest bodybuilders on earth up there. There were big, heavy and had presence. It was all about them and you didn't have to wait long to see them in full action. I am not saying that smaller bodybuilders are valued any less. What I mean is that everyone was there to see the biggest most hardcore monsters and they get to see them from the start.
As for the women's bodybuilding and fitness events, you have never seen so much quality in all your life. One thing that did stand out (to me anyway) were the breast implants in many of the female competitors. You will see what I mean from some of the pictures.
Most definitely yes, especially when you don't pay a penny ;-) (Thanks LA Muscle for the opportunity!) A VIP ticket for the whole show including the Expo, the Arnold Photo and the VIP after dinner party is $350. If you wanted to just go to some of the events (i.e. not the prejudging) then you can buy individual tickets.
A flight to Columbus is around £250-£300 if you book in advance. By the way, booking in advance is "the" thing to do as Columbus gets packed at the time of the Arnold.
If you want to go all the way, then I suggest you stay at the Hyatt Regency which is where all the main competitors stay and you can walk over to the Expo.
Here are the results from the 2003 Arnold Classic:
Miss International: Lightweights:
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