As we arrived at the Fairgrounds parking lot for a day at The Arnold we had no idea what to expect. By the end of the day we were exhausted and amazed by the sheer amount of activities that were going on.
The three day Arnold Fitness Expo is held at the Convention Center, and since they tore down Vets Memorial Auditorium, they hold a number of events at the Fairgrounds with a free shuttle between the two venues. The Arnold features more than 900 exhibit booths offering the latest in fitness apparel, equipment, training tools and nutrition. The event is the largest multi-sport festival in the nation and features 18,000 athletes competing in 70 sports and events, including 14 Olympic sports throughout Columbus.
Hearing stories of how expensive parking is downtown ($40) we opted to park at the Fairgrounds and immediately get on the shuttle to go downtown. Once off the bus and inside we immediately ran into a crowd, the theme for the day. There were athletes from the age of 5 to 85. Within the first 15 minutes we saw kick boxing demonstrations, people playing tennis, a youth cheerleader competition and more, and that was just in the hallway. We entered one room to watch some power lifters followed by the next room where they had a stripper pole set up, only the young ladies on this pole weren’t strippers, they were amazingly strong and agile athletes, holding themselves horizontally for what seemed like minutes.
In the fencing room there was a demonstration of people who were Star Wars fans using light swords, followed by a jujitsu contest. Next up was a jump rope team that put all the other jump rope people I have ever seen to shame. Among others they had a double dutch demo with two people on/in the ropes at the same time, ending with one sending the other flying in a back flip.
Back in another hall there was a sculpting contest going on, many doing busts of Arnold. As we made our way back to the shuttle stop we were greeted by a strong man painted bronze with fake weights for the kids to take pictures with.
Back at the Fairgrounds we went into the Coliseum where there the Crossfit competition was held. We saw athletes of all shapes, but regardless of skill and physique everyone gave it their all.
The next building was holding a rodeo; the one next to that – a major Ping Pong tournament, with contestants from throughout the U.S. and Canada. We spent a long time watching the matches as the players were amazing. The next building held a large childrens sports area. Finally we watched the archery competition before deciding to leave, only to be greeted by Arnold himself – to be fair it was total coincidence he was arriving to go into the Children’s area right as we were leaving. When I asked if I could take a photo he said ‘absowootly’. It was perfect.