Arnold Sports Festival: How Meeting These 8 Bodybuilders and Fitness Fanatics Inspired Me to Greatness!
Each year, the Columbus Convention Center (Columbus, Ohio) holds one of the fitness industry’s most expansive expos, The Arnold Sports Festival (ASF), which is named after the godfather-of-modern-bodybuilding, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The ASF began in 1989 as the ‘Arnold Classic’, a bodybuilding contest showcasing the top physical specimens in the world. Today the Arnold Sports Festival hold contests for more than 50 sports, including international events in Australia, Brazil, and Spain. The Arnold Sports Fest is now the second most prestigious bodybuilding show behind only the Olympia, known as the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding.
As the founder of Just Max Fitness Nutrition, a lifelong fan of bodybuilding, a proponent of powerlifting and a 2016 Paralympic-hopeful, I couldn't resist the opportunity to see what sort of adventures the ASF had in store. Hoping that we wouldn't run into any serious snowstorms during the drive from Wisconsin, my best friend and I (also named Josh) embarked on the 8.5-hour road trip to Columbus, OH.
Little did we know, this would be like no other road trip we have experienced together before!
Daydreaming of what could be, I came up with a list of eight names of bodybuilders and fitness-celebs that I most looked forward to meeting. I explained to my buddy Josh, who each of these guys were, why they were significant to me, and that if we were given the opportunity to meet them, that I would really like to have my picture taken with each one of them and maybe snag an autograph or two.
In the beginning, I was hoping to get four of the eight, I was in fact able to get all 8! Here is a brief description of each encounter I had with my favorite world class body-builders, professional wrestler, and fitness celebrity.
Victor Martinez (Facebook | twitter @IFBBVicMartinez) was the first bodybuilder that I had the pleasure of meeting. A winner of the Arnold Classic in 2007, Victor is certainly world-class. I have always seen Mr. Martinez in MHP ads in all the muscle magazines that I purchase. And although JFMN doesn’t yet carry the MHP, I did speak with representatives of the company and am trying my best to bring them on board! Anyhow, I became an even bigger fan of Victor's after the release of Generation Iron. In that incredible documentary film, I learned to relate to the ups and downs he has been through and was inspired to know that he stays toward the top of his profession regardless of any setbacks life has thrown his way. To an adaptive athlete like myself, Victor is proof that one can overcome adversity and succeed regardless of perceived limitations. MHP has not yet been added to my web-store yet, but I was able to make connections at the ASF, look for that soon.
Kai Greene (Facebook | twitter @KaiGreene) aka ‘The Predator’, was an ASF winner in 2009 and 2010 and has been known as the world's top-contending bodybuilder for the past 3 years. On a sidenote, MHP and Muscle Meds (the company that sponsors Kai) are actually owned by the same larger company, so Muscle Meds should also be added to the JMFN site with any luck as well. On a personal level, in any aspect of sport competition, I have always been labeled as the "underdog", so naturally I have gravitated towards following the Predator to see if he can dethrone Phil Heath, the current king-of-bodybuilding. Does Kai have what it takes to bring home the Sandow in 2015?
CT Fletcher (Facebook | twitter @CTFletcherISYMF) is a former bench press and arm curl world champion that is best known today as a YouTube sensation for his brash personality and his acronym "ISYMFS". Although he may come off as too brash for some (even for me sometimes), I am drawn to him because of the fact that he is a "real" person. Regardless of how much money may be gain from the supplement industry, he won't change his image just to make a buck. In a world where PEDs and steroids are commonplace, CT also challenges anyone who ever wants to drug test him to do “come on down to his gym”. He is 100% drug free, 100% of the time! And that is what I am too. Keep being you and command your arms to grow by force of will, CT!
Hulk Hogan (Facebook | twitter @HulkHogan) is the reason I found my way into the world of fitness in the first place. What can I say, I know that professional wrestling is, well, fake, but as a young Hulkamaniac the guys of the WWE were the original athletes with comic book-superhero bodies that I most looked up to. The Hulk hasn't wrestled in some time, he is still an icon, not only in wrestling but in this industry as well. I am glad that Funnbar (who knew that there was protein packed chewy candy?) brought him by the ASF. I have been trying to meet this guy and get this photo for close to 30 years! Thank you to the ASF and Funnbar for giving me the opportunity. Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and keep training and you can be anything that you want to be! Believe!
Ronnie Coleman (Facebook | twitter @BigRon08) Wow! Who doesn't look to meet Ronnie Coleman when they go to a bodybuilding show / fitness expo? At 50 year old, the 8-time Mr. Olympia is still an absolute beast! His iconic catch phrases of, "Yeah Buddy" and, "Lightweight baby -- ain’t nothing but a peanut!", have endured long beyond his reign in the world of bodybuilding. Ronnie was also one of the nicer guys at the ASF and took the time to sign this picture on Saturday after having it blown up to a 16X20 poster the night before. Thank you Mr. Coleman!
Phil Heath (Facebook | twitter & @PhilHeath) how could I not search out an opportunity to have my picture taken with the 4x (and current) Mr. Olympia? What an awesome opportunity! He’s made it known that he wants to be the first bodybuilder to reach 10 Olympia titles. Let that one sink in for a minute. Mr. Heath has competition like Kai Green and other young up and coming bodybuilders to contend with; will he have the drive to remain at the mountaintop? Phil also took the time to meet with me a second time and sign my poster photo! He’s got heart!
Jay Cutler (Facebook | twitter @MrOJayCutler) 4x Mr. Olympia was pretty much the coolest and most surprising meet and greet of the weekend! The picture you see here is a photo that Jay's social media team posted on Jay's Official Fan Page - this photo received more than 60,000 likes and hundreds of positive comments! That’s a record for me. Thank you for the amazing photo opportunity. Mr. Cutler truly is a class act!
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Facebook | twitter @Schwarzenegger) aka, Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia, Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator, and the Governor! It seemed like every one of the 200,000+ people that attended the Arnold Sports Festival tried to catch a glimpse, get a photo opportunity, an autograph, or even a chance to chat with the legend. Thanks to my buddy's extra ticket to Arnold's annual symposium at the ASF, I was able to get this photo. Although it was extremely brief I feel honored to have gotten my picture with the man of so many talents, many to consider Arnold to be the holy-grail-of-celebrity-autographs and if you're into fitness at any level, you may agree.
Overall, the weekend was more incredible than I could I have ever imaged. Aiming to get 4 of the 8 bodybuilders and fitness celebrities on my list, I went 8-for-8. As the founder and operator of JMFN, I made some key connections to expand product offerings to my clients!
This cast of bodybuilding and fitness fanatics was nicer and more approachable then you might have imagined! Beyond these interactions, I left the AFS feeling more motivated to get bigger and stronger than ever! I truly believe I will push toward my goals with more drive than ever.
As always, thank you for shopping with JFMN and checking out our affiliates and sponsors for great fitness and nutrition deals!