Last weekend I attended the Arnold Classic Fitness Expo – just like I have every year for the last 15 years. Boy has that show changed. The first several years the expo was primarily a bodybuilding event and it was more or less a freak show with ripped bodybuilders everywhere and tons and tons of scantily clad women. Now it’s become more of a family event, with regular people of all ages walking around. Of course that’s in large part because it’s become way more than bodybuilding. In addition to the fitness expo there is the Arnold Sports Festival going on, which includes competitions in over 30 sports. Many of these sports are quite far removed from bodybuilding, and there are many sporting events that include children as competitors. As a result, the whole feel of the show has been changed towards a more “wholesome” atmosphere.
Most of the years I have gone to the Arnold it has been as a supplement company vendor with a booth. This year I worked the booth of my primary nutritional supplement company Epharm. Working the Epharm booth is a lot of fun because we sample our energy shot Clearshot Concentrate. Clearshot Concentrate is a wicked hot spicy shot that hits you almost instantly, so it’s a blast to see unsuspecting people shoot one down and then react. Reactions include crying tears, yelps, contorted faces, looks of shock, and the occasional person who feigns the stoic face but is actually peeing their pants. Often – after the burn goes away and they get their senses back, – they realize how awesome they feel and they proceed to buy a bottle. We sold a ton last weekend.
The Arnold expo floor is very crowded for most of the hours it is open, so those who work the booths are essentially trapped. The Epharm booth however was on the far edge of the show and right behind the curtains was the emergency row. The emergency row is blocked off and empty, so we were able to sneak in and out of our booth with relative ease. Still, to walk the actual expo floor is pretty much impossible except for late on Sunday, so that’s when I hit the floor to see what was going on.
There wasn’t a whole lot of new stuff to see. I got to meet up with some of my friends from other companies and chit chat. One of these guys is a person named Markel Boulis, who owns 2:1 protein bar company. He won the GNC protein bar of the year award again (I
think this is like his third award in five years). His bars are remarkable, almost too good to be true. Anyway what makes Markel’s story interesting is that I met him in prison back in 2006-2007. We were in the same unit and hung out a lot. Markel was a chiropractor and had nothing to do with the supplement business. After prison I never talked to him but then at the Mr. Olympia expo I ran into him at his bar booth. It was quite a shock to see that this guy got out of prison and started a company and within two years had won the best protein bar in GNC.
I also talked to John Perrotta who was promoting an interesting product called the spider bottle. The spider bottle is a shaker bottle with a built in wire spring that serves to open and close when the bottle is shaken. This spring oscillates and acts sort of like a whisk to break up lumps and ensure complete even mixing. It’s a neat little invention and John is a good salesman and a nice guy.
On Saturday I hung out quite a bit with Vince Andrich, an industry vet who is working with Dr. Scott Connelly on introducing a new protein powder called Myotropics. The protein powder should be on the shelves any day now and is some sort of high grade whole milk protein. I am looking forward to trying it. Vince always is fun to talk to because he has been through it all in this industry.
Last but not least I wanna give a call out to my dear friends Rick Collins, Mike Dimaggio, Marc Gann, and Alan Feldstein. Yes, these guys have been my attorneys for years but our relationship goes far beyond a professional one. They have to be the most clever and hilarious people I know, and they truly care about me and my business partner Lakhan – not just on the attorney/client level but on a personal level as well.
I am sure I skipped over a lot of other interesting things that happened that weekend. No, I did not attend the bodybuilding show. I am not a huge fan of competitive bodybuilding and with so much other stuff going on it’s just not worth it to spend a few hours watching posing and flexing.
If you have never attended the expo you should make an effort to get there at least once in your life. Next year is the 25th anniversary so it should be an interesting spectacle. If you attend and run into me please say Hi (just look for the name badge around my neck)