The Arnold Hits Downtown Columbus

The Arnold Sports Festival has returned to downtown Columbus, bigger and better than ever.  It is the one weekend each year where we pencil-necked, out-of-shape downtown office workers feel like we live in an oversized world of gigantic professional wrestlers who sport bulging biceps and barrel chests under tight-fitting clothing.

The Arnold, which runs through tomorrow, is a tremendous boon for Columbus and local businesses.  It is estimated that visitors to The Arnold will spend more than $42 million during their stay in Columbus.  It brings lots of visitors to town from all over the world, and it features events all day at five different venues in the area. Those of us who work in downtown Columbus can see the economic impact firsthand — increased car traffic, increased foot traffic, and lots of activity at hotels and restaurants.

Yesterday Richard, JV and I went to have lunch at the North Market — which is one block away from the Columbus Convention Center, the hub of The Arnold — and the area was jammed with cars and Arnold attendees.  As we left, we saw people lugging huge sacks of product they had purchased from the many retail stalls at The Arnold. I have to believe that, if you are a business selling fitness-related products, The Arnold is the highlight of the year.  The attendees are people who are really serious about body-building, or fencing, or kick-boxing, and they will spend liberally in pursuit of their passion.  We Columbusites welcome them all.

The Arnold

This weekend The Arnold is back in town. Every year Columbus hosts “The Arnold,” which is the local nickname for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival. Some years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger won a Mr. Olympic or Mr. Universe bodybuilding title — or maybe both — here in Columbus, and ever since the people of Columbus have been popular with him and he has been popular with the people of Columbus. Indeed, Republican presidential candidates often have called on him to deliver stump speeches in Columbus, a key part of “Battleground Ohio,” as campaigns have come down to the wire, and he has always delivered big, enthusiastic crowds.

The Arnold started, I think, as pretty much a bodybuilding and fitness show, but it has grown and grown over the years. Thousands of contestants, participants, and observers, as well as hundreds of exhibitors of training devices, power drinks, and other items, come to our community every year for The Arnold. It now features arm-wrestling, power-lifting, archery, wrestling, “strong man” competitions, and many other events and contests.

The heart of The Arnold, though, remains mens’ and womens’ bodybuilding events. It is amazing when you see the competitors in those events walking around downtown Columbus or at the airport. Although their bodies look freakish (to me, at least) you can’t help but be impressed by the commitment that these people have shown. How much lifting, and toning, and oiling, and tanning have these people done to get to their current body morphs? And, where does someone with thighs that are bigger than their waistlines buy clothes, anyway?