Reflecting on the Arnold Sports Festival 2019

This year, I had the privilege of attending The Arnold Sports Festival from March 1-3. This three-day event is held every year in Columbus, OH and hosted by the one and only, Arnold Schwarzenegger. My role at the event was to work the Nutrabio booth, representing, promoting, and selling their products. While I’ve attended many events with Nutrabio over the last five years, the Arnold Sports Festival was by far the most electric.

For those of you who don’t know much about The Arnold, it is one of the largest sports festivals in the world. While it initially became popular for its bodybuilding competition, it has grown to include Strongman, Powerlifting, Crossfit, fencing, archery, and dance competitions, to name a few. In addition to housing the competitions, it is the mecca for supplement, apparel, and fitness product companies. Over 1,000 companies set up shop at the expo, held annually at the Columbus Convention Center. Basically, anyone who is anyone in the fitness industry makes it a point to take the pilgrimage.


Over 250,000 fitness enthusiasts flooded the expo this year (the most ever) to explore, ask questions about, and purchase the products on display. You can imagine how stimulating it was to be around hundreds of thousands of the biggest fitness “influencers”, most prominent fitness companies, and some of the best athletes in the world. Attending the event gives you a finger on the pulse of what the fitness industry is doing and where it is going. As I come down from the buzz and adjust back into my daily routine, here are my takeaways from the event:

  1. Be authentic.

Being at an event like The Arnold makes you realize just how many fitness product and supplement companies are vying for your business. While some go out and hire the sexiest or most famous endorsers (who probably don’t really use their products), such celebrity doesn’t ensure the quality of the product.

As a representative of Nutrabio for the past five years, I’ve seen the company grow from “I’ve never heard of you guys” to  “I LOVE your product—keep doing what you’re doing!” Nutrabio has been around since 1996; that’s 23 years. For us, it’s not about marketing and hiring the most popular fitness personalities in the world to gain notoriety. Instead, our message is always about the quality of the product itself. The people you meet at our booth all actually use our products. Fitness is an easy industry to sell out your values (think of all the Instagram “trainers” with booty pictures instead of real content). For Nutrabio, those values are simple: full transparency, no proprietary blends, no fillers and excipients, and developing products without compromise. We formulate first and figure out the rest later. The industry standard, on the other hand, is to pick a price-point first, then formulate the product second. This practice leads to underdosed and often ineffective products. The point? Stick to your guns and be authentic. Perfect your product—not how you market it. Good things take time, and as people get on board and start using your product or services, they become customers for life. If you know anything about the supplement industry, that is unique in itself.

2. Fitness is for everyone.

You can argue for days about which sporting event is the hardest or which group of athletes are the most fit, but what I saw this weekend gave me a different perspective. This event is like the Olympics of Ohio. Roughly 22,000 people from 80 different countries came together to compete in their respective sports. All the sports required thousands of practice hours, time away from family, physical and mental challenges, and a high level of competition, just to qualify for an invite. Most of these athletes did not have six-pack abs or 22-inch biceps, but what they had was a dedication and passion for their sport. One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to watch Miles Taylor, a 24-year-old man with cerebral palsy from Maryland. Miles became well-known when his 200 lb. deadlift video went viral on the internet. Arnold invited him out to the expo to deadlift in front of everyone at the show. “Fitness is for everyone,” seemed to be Arnold’s motto for the weekend. There’s no sport or event that’s superior to another when you take a second to think and admire what it takes to compete. Check out Miles’ famous deadlift here:

3. Passion breeds passion.

These events are by no typical day at the office for the teams working the booths at the expo. In addition to standing on your feet for most of the day, battling crowds, and having hundreds of conversations, we hosted a gym meet-up for everyone to attend. The whole team showed up, including the owner and CEO of Nutrabio, Mark Glazier. We’ve made it a point of hosting gym meet-ups at these large expos and invited everyone and anyone who wants to to join us. I couldn't imagine doing all of this for a company I didn't have a true passion for. I overheard two expo attendees, while sampling some products at our booth, talking about how the Nutrabio team all had a real passion for the products that you could see immediately.

This is what drives me; everytime I come back from an event spending time with our team of 10-15 people, my motivation is amplified. I train and work even harder. Most of us come from different backgrounds and geographic areas but we all share the same passion for quality supplements—no matter which one of us you talk to, that will be the underlying theme of the conversation. The passion is energizing and contagious. Whether it’s in fitness or not, surrounding yourself with a group of like-minded individuals who are passionate about the same things you are, can really give you the added fuel you need to be a better you.