The ASF 2015 has come and gone once again.
Since its creation in 1989, The Arnold Sports Festival has become the largest multisport event in the world. The event is even bigger than the Olympics, participant-wise. It brings in almost 200,000 visitors and adds a huge amount of income to the local economy, mainly hosted by the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Ohio Expo Center.
This was my first year attending and I had no idea what to expect. Visions of male bodybuilders with enormous muscles filled my mind; viewing tan bodies, completely ripped and oiled up, flexing while competing around the Convention Center Battelle Grand Ballroom and the Expo trade show floor, filled my itinerary.
Surprisingly, the main crowd I witnessed was made up of predominantly families, a lot of older kids and physical fitness buffs from all walks of life.
The Expo trade show consisted of booths offering protein, mixing bottles and gym fashions. Super pumped-up guys and hardbody girls in bikinis were handing out plastic packages of samples every few feet. I am not sure what makes one supplement better than the other, although some booths had longer lines than others. Nutrition is paramount for fitness, they say.
There were also WWE NXT wrestling matches on exhibition. I got to see a little Asian man whoop the hell out of a big good ol’ boy with a beard and disheveled hair. There was even a crowd of people cheering and yelling at the heel. It was way more entertaining live than on TV.
Out in the main concourse there were small stages showcasing fencing, pole acrobatics and cosplay swordplay (with folks dressed in Star Wars costumes, including an eight foot tall Chewbacca). I caught a few of these performances, enjoying the good-natured frivolity.
Knowing some local folks that do aerials and pole acrobatics, I sought out those exhibitions. I’m never not blown away at how much body control these performers possess. Holding your body parallel and perpendicular to a pole on stage takes incredible strength and stamina. There are also complex moves and exercises they must showcase. Always a delight to the sight and senses.
A few minutes after pole fitness, I saw a wave of cell phones going up in the air and stand on a chair to see Schwarzenegger himself walking through the lobby. Quite a spectacle — but what’s the event without Arnold? He is, of course, the real main attraction.
After being at the event for two days, I began to wonder how the ASF was able to orchestrate and manage all the events, contestants, support workers, patrons, etc. etc. It was nearly bewildering how many people were engaged in multifarious activities, every minute, every hour. Truly amazing logistics.
I had to sit for a while just to contemplate the magnitude of the event, running up my tab at the Char Bar in the process.
Managing Editor Breck J. Hapner contributed to this article.