Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Muscles Thousands Into Columbus

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Muscles Thousands Into Columbus

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Recap – No One Does It Better

Over 20,000 athletes competed at the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 – that’s more than the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 (ASF) took place in ten buildings with over three million square feet of space. It consumed ten buildings, including the Greater Columbus Convention Center, with an army of fitness enthusiasts.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 main stage

It’s easy to admire the athletes, who work tirelessly to compete on this international stage. And yes, there are some competitions that lend themselves to more studious, ardent admiration than others …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 female contestants from behind

… but that’s just part of athletics – fitness is sexy and that’s a fact.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016  male fitness model holding up shirt

Mohammad Mehdi Dalili

On Thursday night, Now It’s Dark caught up with the preliminary bikini competitors. Fit women, spray-tanned with hair, makeup and nails ready, wearing clear plastic heels, and competition bikinis grouped into classes by height.

These are the amateurs. Yes, there are some women who believe picking up a weight, in a gym or otherwise, will cause a sudden transformation into a cartoon character, overly-masculine woman with massive bulk, but that’s just not going to happen.


Hall E held a charity fundraiser called Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Guns and Hoses Boxing which pitted a police officer against a firefighter.

And Now Friday – Arnold Sports Festival 2016

Friday morning, the city was bustling with activity as thousands of people streamed into town to work, in addition to the traffic filling the streets around the convention center and Ohio fairgrounds.

Being a local surely helped with parking, because an extra 200,000 people means parking a few extra cars.

The Fitness Expo in Hall D is the largest open area part of the Arnold Sports Festival 2016, with vendors and events mixed in one very large space. People stopped to sample products, stood in line to meet athletes, and made their way to the stages to experience performances.

On the Expo Stage, NID stopped to watch the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Armwrestling Challenge Preliminaries …

… followed by the Figure International Prejudging that was later won by the amazing Latoya Watts …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Figure International Prejudging Latorya Watts

Latorya Watts

… It’s exciting to be so close to competitors.  Even without access to the media or VIP areas, people could watch from 50 feet away from the stage.

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Prejudging 212 was exciting to see. These are the world class male bodybuilders who weigh in at 212 pounds or less.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 212 Prejudging

The competitors came out one by one, and then the judges lined them up in the front of the stage for comparison. It’s harder than it seems to pick a winner from a row of bodybuilders who are all in amazing shape.

Rotating around, to clearly see their form, the judges then asked for positions to be exchanged in the lineup by saying phrases such as “one and three switch,” until they landed on a lineup they liked. This way it’s easier to compare one bodybuilder to another, and find the best athlete in the group.

That person moves to the center on the stage. For the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 212 class that day, it was clear who would win. Although, seeing someone competing from Columbus, John Meadows, was exciting and brought out cheers for him from the audience.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 212 Prejudging John Meadows

John Meadows

Last years winner, Jose Raymond, was in truly incredible shape.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 212 Prejudging Jose Raymond

Jose Raymond

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Model Search was next on the Expo Stage and the first year for men to compete. Women account for twice the spending on fashion, so they dominate modeling in general, right?

The finalists were selected from a national search based on internet popularity, and the competition was stiff, with most all of the finalists strong enough to be easily selected to appear in local runway shows.

The contest winners received a modeling contract with Maximum Human Performance (MHP). Clearly, this Arnold Sports Festival 2016 competition emphasized fitness, which is not always the case for models.

Melissa Andrews won, and makeup was applied by the local uber talented MUA Rahela Akasha Williams.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Model Search winner

Melissa Andrews

Winners were selected using a lineup approach for models that is similar to bodybuilding. The men’s competition was just as fierce as the women’s. In the end, Joshua Self was selected.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Model Search mens winner

Joshua Self

Needing to recharge, the next stop was quick ride on the fun/free CBUS to Zen-Cha Tea Salon on High Street for a passion fruit tea, no milk, extra bubbles, black and chicken dumplings.

Always order extra bubbles – life is too short to skimp.

Another quick ride on the CBUS and back to the convention center and we were back to the action. People were outside engaged in the tradition of posing with the legend himself. These guys had trophies of their own.

The LC Lifestyle Communities Pavilion is just a short walk from the convention center to enjoy the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Friday night Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 LC Pavilion

LC Pavilion

Ringside at the octagon cage match, NID made a quick trip inside the ring with local announcer extraordinaire George Phillips.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 George Phillips

George Phillips

These bouts are exciting, high energy battles. There’s something intense about watching an organized fight with MMA. The confrontations combine punching, kicking and a mixture of martial arts moves until one fighter submits by tapping out, is knocked out, or is technically knocked out (judged unable to continue).

George Phillips stepped into the ring to announce the bouts with a commanding voice.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 George Phillips 2

George Phillips

And the referee, well let’s just say he seemed ready to maintain order.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Mixed Martial Arts referee

The beginning bouts were amateur, starting out with Korey Snyder vs. Curt Laytart, and won by Snyder.

Next up, Jesse Phillips vs. Mike Walters, which was won by Walters.

Then came Robert Small vs. Matthew Sheperd, with Sheperd winning by tap out and an arm lock…

… He looked, well that’s an Arnold Sports Festival 2016 ROAR!

Paul Marino vs. Brian Burk, with Marino winning in tap out.

Chris Campbell vs. Edward Christie.

Yes, It’s Saturday – Arnold Sports Festival 2016

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Saturday morning started in the Ohio Expo Center, with local fitness model Dani Pikeman, who was working the Performix booth.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Dani Dikeman

Dani Dikeman

We then stopped over at the booth to check out car stickers to share weightlifting performance, and yes, NID Correspondent Natasha Boldon is holding a 300 pound dead lift sticker. Being a powerlifter, she knows her numbers.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 What I Lift booth

Natasha Boldon at the What I Lift booth

Quest had some tasty giveaways and music thumping to the beat of @DJFIT, Lauren Pappas.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Lauren Pappas

Lauren Pappas, DJFIT

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) experience was next with a large crowd of people surrounding a boxing style ring. Clearly, there was some powerful wrestling happening in this ring with the referee using mind control to keep order.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 WWE

The bout continued until the pre-determined winner won.

Next on the docket, the ladies, who were a little less convincing.

WWE, keep the “E” in the show — it was certainly entertaining.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a tradition of welcoming guests to the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 on Saturday morning, so we walked over to find him.

Some have something to say about pole dancing, and that’s clear. What should be said is these performers are amazing.

The champion this year, Tara Meyer looked super fit, and made dancing around the pole look effortless. It was easy to see why she won.

We finished up the day hopping the shuttle bus over to the Ohio State Fairgrounds to experience the power lifting event.

Watching powerlifting is humbling.

Powerlifting is focused on how much you can lift or power vs. having a beautiful body (bodybuilding). In this picture, Patrick Helber is squatting more than 800 pounds as his opening lift.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Powerlifting Patrick Helber

Patrick Helber

A competitor following him opened with 1,165 pounds successfully.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Powerlifting

Just amazing amounts of weight were moved in the powerlifting events.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Powerlifting

Whoa! Sunday – Arnold Sports Festival 2016

Arnold Sports Festival 2016, Sunday morning at 11 a.m.: A packed room at the Hilton on High Street downtown was ready for “The Arnold” to greet the champions.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Hilton crowd

It’s always exciting to listen to Arnold’s stories, because you know he’s going to have something interesting to share.

“Everything I have accomplished in my life is because of America,” Schwarzenegger said.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Arnold siting and talking 2

Arnold Schwarzenegger

This year was no exception.

The Arnold Sports Festival 2016 winners took to the stage, talking about their accomplishments. and answering questions for the attendees.

Hidetada Yamagishi won the 212 …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Hilton Hidetada Yamagishi

Hidetada Yamagishi

… and the Wheelchair winner spoke …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Hilton wheelchair winner

… then Figure winner Latorya Watts …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Latorya Watts

Latorya Watts

… Men’s Physique winner Brandon Hendrickson …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Brandon Hendrickson

Brandon Hendrickson

… Fitness International Oksana Grishina …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Oksana Grishina

Oksana Grishina

… and Bikini International India Paulino …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 India Paulino

India Paulino

Back to the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 AND Arnold …

Being an election year, the host commented that if Arnold were running for president he would garner a lot of votes.

Arnold responded by saying, “Politicians seem to have angles to get around the issue of being born in America,” adding that he considered looking into the armies that invaded Germany when he was a child, to find out if his father might have actually been an American Soldier.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Arnold siting and talking 2

Arnold Schwarzenegger

He went on to say that “the forces occupying Germany at the time in his region were British, anyway.”  The crowd laughed and seemed to enjoy his lighthearted sense of humor.

Arnold then welcomed the Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Classic winner Kai Green to the stage … and proceeded to comment on the importance of posing skill for bodybuilding …

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Arnold talking about posing with Kai Green

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kai Green

… including taking a knee and getting up – athletes should not be sweating and they should not be shaking holding poses!

He has the credibility to be critical of this community of athletes having been one of them. Arnold also said that Bodybuilders should practice posing every day, saying being the best in the world takes a lot of effort and what’s a little more effort, anyway.

Arnold Sports Festival 2016 Arnold talking about posing with Kai Green

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kai Green

Let’s face it, Arnold has, thus far, led an incredible, unique life, all founded on the principles of strength, wealth and happiness through dedicated, hard work.

Beyond the Fairytale, Arnold has become iconic to all of us in physical and visceral sense through his continued accomplishments and contributions to culture. How many of us don’t recognize his name? Very, very few, I can tell you that.

What impresses us is that Arnold is still giving back to the world as only he can, through his manifestations of art, film, commerce, and altruism, benefiting countless associates, participants, businesses and yes, even cities.

Where many in his position would sit back, enjoying their spoils, Arnold has stepped further ahead as the ultimate ambassador for a most impressive event – And the Arnold Sports Festival is no longer indigenous to Columbus, folks. The ASF is now a world-wide exposition of the good will, trust and benevolence Arnold displays countless times.

He wants us all to succeed, to grow and become strong, and this is what real living is all about.

See you next year!

Tony Bentivegna

Tony Bentivegna writes reviews, articles and photographs for NID Magazine and can be reached at [email protected]