Arnold Sports Festival 2012

I finally did something I’ve wanted to do for about 10 years–attended a fitness competition. I started with a high-visibility one–the Arnold Sports Festival 2012, held in Columbus, Ohio. Not only did I see Arnold Schwarzenegger in person (short, fake tan, dyed hair), but I watched hundreds of competitors strut their stuff on stage.

I attended the amateur competition in fitness, bikini, and figure on Thursday night. Have I mentioned that there was a time, not so long ago, when I aspired to compete in figure competitions? Oh yes! I even had a DVD that offered tips and tricks for would-be competitors (like practicing posing for 30 minutes a day!). I don’t have a background in gymnastics or cheer, so I felt like I’d be out of my element doing fitness, but I felt I could build muscle and do figure. Having children put a tiny monkey wrench in that plan. I could still rock a bikini after my first child. After my second, well, there is certainly a lot of loose skin on my midsection. I know Pro Tan can hide a lot on stage, but I can’t expect miracles. Still, perhaps one day…

The competition was a fun experience, and it was certainly great motivation to work out! It was very clear that these ladies had dieted, lifted, and sweated their tanned buns off. Fitness was, by far, the most fun to watch. A combination of strength moves, tumbling, and dance made the routines engaging, as did creative choreography and costumes. It made me think that, even without a gymnastics background, maybe that would be a better fit for me. There are definitely the fewest competitors in fitness, vs bikini and figure.

The bikini portion lasted the longest, with hundreds of girls vying for top bombshell billing. It was immediately apparent that bikini is not for me. Although a select few of the women used classy posing, pleasant facial expressions, and looked glamorous, the vast majority seemed to have picked up their moves in a local gentleman’s club. I believe less can be more, even when you’re trying to stand out among the masses, and there were women that achieved it. They held themselves with poise and confidence, their hair, makeup, jewelry and suits flawless, their physiques speaking for themselves. All the cheesy eye-winking, shoulder shimmies, and booty bounces came across as desperate, not showmanship. I hope the trend goes back to class.

I only caught a portion of the figure competition, and I enjoyed it very much. It’s a pared down form of bodybuilding–set poses, less bulk. I found it much easier to respect the competitors in figure than I did in bikini, because they seemed to respect themselves.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience–inspirational and instructional. I don’t know if I’ll try to do one of these competitions one day; for now, my goal is May’s half marathon.

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