The Arnold Classic started out as a one-day bodybuilding competition in 1989, but has since transformed into the four-day, 44-sport Arnold Sports Festival that includes a little something for everyone.
“It was my vision 30 years ago to bring all of the sports together to kind of sell the idea that there’s not one sport that ought to be preferred over another,” said California Gov. and ex-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, the festival’s namesake. “To me it makes no difference if you do boxing, you can do martial arts, you can do archery, table tennis or regular tennis. Whatever it is, bodybuilding, weight-lifting, whatever, just do something.”
Most of the people in attendance make their first stop of the festival at the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s Main Hall, which holds the Arnold Fitness Expo. The 2010 Expo set a record with 700 vendor booths, selling and giving away a variety of products from sporting goods and clothing to strength and conditioning products.
Although it costs $10 to attend the Expo, the free products and celebrity appearances more than make up for the costs with the likes of Lou Ferrigno, the original TV “Hulk,” Sylvester Stallone, Randy Couture, Jay Cutler and Schwarzenegger in attendance.
“Considering last year I got three or four months worth of protein, creatine and nitric oxide supplements which probably would have cost about $350 to $380 … for $10, that’s a good deal,” said Paul Bolaji, a fourth-year in political science. “And you get to see these larger-than-life people walking around that you see on TV and stuff. … It’s awesome.”
The Expo part of the Festival is not just for celebrities and products, the people walking around the event are also treated to sporting events on a big stage at the east end of the Main Hall. Saturday’s stage events included the arm wrestling finals, amateur men’s and women’s bodybuilding finals, a professional strongman contest and an international professional dead-lift competition.
“I saw the strongman competition. … That was good,” said Brendon Badway, a second-year in biology. “They’re like 6-foot-8-[inches], 390 pounds. Some of them look kind of sloppy, but they’re just strong as all hell.”
Many other events were accessible with Expo tickets at the Convention Center, including professional power-lifting, gymnastics, table tennis, cheerleading, martial arts and art competitions.
The art competition is new to the Festival this year and is the first event that does not include athletes directly. Instead, the 50 artists who competed spent Friday walking around the Expo gaining inspiration for their work. Then they are free to paint whatever they want in any way they desire, as long as it is inspired by the Arnold Sports Festival.
“I would love to see [art] every year,” said artist Anastasia Horowitz, an OSU graduate. “I think it’s very exciting to couple art and fitness like the Greeks and Romans. They go well together.”
Even Stallone gave the artists a lot of interest as he considers himself an artist and sculpture. He even liked one artist, OSU graduate Robert Wright’s work, so much that he invited him out for a one-on-one lunch on Sunday.
“[Stallone] was interested in everybody’s work,” said Laura Wolery, an OSU medical school graduate who paints as a hobby. “He went to see almost everybody. He missed a couple ladies in the middle and they were a little distraught.”
Besides the Convention Center, events were also held at the Veterans Memorial, Nationwide Arena and the Lifestyles Community Pavilion.
The Veterans Memorial was the site of the Arnold Bodybuilding Classic and the Top Shop Skateboarding Contest, another new event at this year’s Festival.
This year’s Arnold Classic winner was Kai Greene, a 34-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Nationwide Arena hosted another new event for this year: a figure and synchronized skating competition.
In all, nine new events were added this year which brought the total number of competitors in the Arnold Sports Festival to 18,000, three times more than the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The LC Pavilion held an event that was added last year, the Arnold Party with the Pros. It was a $25 event that allowed spectators to mingle with all 18,000 athletes and any of the special guests, such as Stallone or Schwarzenegger, who were at the Festival.
It included food, drinks and live acts, such as acrobats, dancers, fire-eaters and live musicians headlined by Saving Jane.
“There’s all kind of action here,” Schwarzenegger said. “We have 180,000 people coming here, all having a good time.”