A very special Arnold Classic, 25 years in the making!
The 25th anniversary edition of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic is coming up this weekend, and being part of it is a huge honor for me. Obviously because I was the first winner back in 1989, but also because I've watched the tremendous progression this event has made in the years since.
I will never forget Arnold himself calling me up toward the end of 1988 to invite me to compete in the contest he was promoting with Jim Lorimer in Columbus, Ohio the next March. All I needed to know was that Arnold was putting the event together to know it was going to be something unique. Being a former champion bodybuilder himself, Arnold wanted to make sure the athletes would be rewarded well for their efforts. With that in mind, the prize money for the first Arnold Classic was the highest ever awarded in our sport. This in turn influenced the Mr. Olympia to increase its prize money, and they went back and forth for years bumping up the amounts. As hard as bodybuilders work to get into competition shape, it's been satisfying to see that.
When the Arnold Classic premiered, it was simply a pro bodybuilding contest held at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. There were a few exhibitors: equipment manufacturers, a few supplement and clothing companies, and some local vendors. Now, the weekend has grown into the Arnold Sports Festival, with over 700 booths and 175,000 people converging on Columbus. There are almost twice as many athletes competing in various sports now than there were at the last Summer Olympic Games!
It's also exciting to think how far Gaspari Nutrition has come at the Expo. We had our first booth there in 2002. I say 'we,' but it was really just me at a 10 x 10 booth selling a couple products all by myself for three straight days. Now, I hesitate to call what we have a 'booth.' When you enter the Gaspari Nutrition booth this weekend, it's more like an experience. The size of a retail store and staffed by over 30 people, we'll have our athletes signing photos, you'll be able to sample our products, and there will be various giveaways and prizes.
Each year at the Arnold Expo, we proudly launch our newest product. This time we have two excellent premieres. The first is SuperDrive, a pre-workout formula that's our answer to all the 'concentrates.' It includes effective ingredients to enhance your endurance, give you an amazing pump, and of course delivers a powerful stimulant effect for insane energy in the gym. We'll also be launching Isofusion, a pure whey isolate that only has two grams of carbohydrates per serving.
And of course, I am honored and humbled to be receiving this year's Lifetime Achievement Award. To me, I just consider myself a guy who's worked hard and who has been fortunate enough to be rewarded with success both as an athlete and as businessman. I also enjoy being in the position now to be able to give back to the sport that helped make me who I am today. I appreciate all my success and never take it for granted. One thing my late father told me many years ago that always stuck with me was,
"Nothing is given to you in life without hard work."
Those were wise words, and I still live my life by them.
So I'm very excited about this year's Arnold Classic. A camera crew will be following me around all weekend to record my experiences, and you'll be able to see it all on the Gaspari Nutrition web site eventually.
See you in Columbus!