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Navigating the Arnold Classic

Updated on March 5, 2013

The main event stage at the center of the expo center.

Tips for a Positive Experience

I recently went with some friends to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. We only attended the Expo, which had plenty to do, but there were several other venues people could visit to enjoy the experience. This weekend marked the 25th anniversary of what is also called the Arnold Classic.

If you have never heard of it or are new to the world of bodybuilding, this event is the ultimate competition just short of the Mr. Olympia tournament. Arnold Schwarzenegger spent some time training and competing in Columbus as a younger athlete and grew to like the city. As he began to have more influence in the sports community, he began organizing this event in Columbus, Ohio. It has grown to something that athletes from all over the world travel to participate in. No sport is discriminated against as you review the various competitions held across the city during a four day period.

The expo is one of the highlights of the event, especially if you are just passing through. For a $15 admission, you gain access to a full day of free supplement samples and autographs from the industry's most famous athletes. Big names like Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Mike O'Hearn, Cain Velasquez, and Jaimie Eason were all in attendance, among many others.

This event draws a very large crowd and if you want the best experience, here are some tips:

Park Close:
There are many places that offer parking in the vicinity of the Arnold Classic's event venues. Do a little online research to find the closest parking. If you are going to the expo, there is a giant parking garage nearly across the street from the expo center. Six levels of parking, for only $8 will save you a lot of walking. Also, some of the other parking places that are further away, also charge more. We saw charges up to $20 without the use of valet.

Go Early: No matter which day you choose to attend, it's best to be there when the doors open. All of the athletes will likely be there already and the 700+ stations offer endless samples and autographs. Early crowds will make lines go very quickly, if they exist. This is important for sponsors like (one of the most popular and highly recommended), or by some of the other big name companies like EAS, BSN, Muscle Milk, and Animal.

Choose a Day: Most people only need to go for one day, but there is so much to see that it is worth going at least twice. The free supplements help make this enticing. Sunday is a very good day to go, especially if you get there early. The vendors are eager to give away the rest of their samples, and Sunday is much less busy than Saturday. Mid-day will be when the crowds start to show up. Be prepared to be shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Saturday was much worse, as Sunday you could escape the crowds. Saturday offered little hope for escaping the bumper car feeling of crowd navigation. The events start on Thursday and last until Sunday. Expect traffic during the weekdays to reflect people's work hours.

Know the Layout: Rows of companies and swarm of people make it easy to lose a sense of direction in the expo center. Luckily there are giant isle signs hanging above to track your location with. You are also offered a booklet with isle markers and vendors, so you can find where you want to visit without spending the time walking all over the expo itself. The larger companies also have very large signs hanging above their locations.

Have fun: Be prepared to be one of many fans and athletes in the area. Everyone is going through the same maze of vendors, lines, famous athletes, and events. Enjoy it while it lasts because it only happens once a year and it is all worth the wait. I will be sure to attend this event every chance I get and I hope you do the same!

One last thing, don't be surprised if you see the Terminator himself walking around the area. He moves with a large group of police who secure the area before he arrives, and the area he currently in. Most likely, you will see him coming!

See more information on the event itself here:

Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler's stage.
Jay Cutler's stage.
Ronnie Coleman's personal bus.
Ronnie Coleman's personal bus.
Mike O'Hearn
Mike O'Hearn
The crowd and a sample isle and vendor signs.
The crowd and a sample isle and vendor signs.
Mike O'Hearn with me.
Mike O'Hearn with me.
One of the IFBB competitors, Holly Barker.
One of the IFBB competitors, Holly Barker.


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