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2001 Arnold Fitness Weekend Report

Held in Columbus, Ohio March 2-4, this was the only major event in World bodybuilding which I had never attended, apart from the NOC.  Now I know what I have missed in the previous 12 years!  It was a sensational experience, cram packed with various events, which revolve around fitness, strength, the gym and of course bodybuilding contests.

After considerable negotiations I was able to shoot the Expo.  This also included the prejudging for the Ms. International and Fitness International on the main Expo Stage, as well as arm wrestling for men and women.

At the Veterans Memorial Auditorium I was able to shoot my traditional “Behind the Scenes” videos for men and women featuring pump room, and back and side stage footage.  I did not shoot traditional FINALS videos for the 3 events but hope it can be negotiated for next year.

However my special thanks to Mike and Matt Lorz for making it easy for me to shoot some front stage posing and awards for the Arnold Classic to spice up the backstage videos and give them  more depth.  As a physique cameraman of 31 years you cannot imagine the frustration of just standing around backstage with a video camera, itching to roll tape, but no one to shoot as the competitors  are all out on stage!  Fortunately I was allowed to catch some CLASSIC highlights, as mentioned, including Arnold’s special Lifetime Achievement Award to his long time friend REG PARK .

It was a fantastic event, superbly run and organized with a personal touch evident throughout from Arnold and Jim Lorimer.  Arnold, complete with stubble, worked his butt off, from visiting the Expo, to being photographed with almost “everyone”, to interviews and photos with the winners and top athletes to humorous speeches on stage.  It was vintage Arnold at his best, and as I remembered him 29 years ago when I shot the poolside posing films with him and Franco in Australia in 1972.  I last saw Arnold in 1980 when he won the Mr. Olympia title in Sydney. But it was not possible to just go up and chat to him backstage due to the pressure of things he had to do and security around him at all times.

Other highlights included the largest and best pump-up weights area I have ever seen, the fantastic condition of all of the athletes – especially Ronnie who was in the best shape of his life; taping at the Expo with Bill Grant who I had not seen for 25 years; David Paul the Barbarian; Anja Langer, Skip LaCour, Jenny Worth, Dawn Sutherland, Melvin Anthony and King Kamali just to name a few. The EXPO was held in the magnificent Greater Columbus Convention Center.

I caught up with old friends such as Albert Busek from Germany (he had the gym in Munich where Arnold trained as a 20 year old), Bob Gardner the famous backstage photographer for Joe Weider at these events, John Balik, Ray Cassar, Bob Kennedy, Kerry Kayes, Willy Zdenek and other old friends from around the world.

A sell out crowd of 5000 saw Ronnie create history as he became the first ever Mr. Olympia to win the Arnold Classic.  “The big nasty” as he is affectionately called, lifted the roof each time he appeared on stage.  His fans just went crazy!  He also won the Most Muscular Man award – easily! Sadly I could not cover the World Record Bench Press Challenge as it clashed with the Men’s Prejudging.  2 world records were set so I probably need 3 cameras at the Arnold Weekend next year so I can cover everything!

Then perhaps I can cover the Sunday morning Fitness Training Seminar which was held at the Veterans Memorial while I spent all Sunday taping at the Expo, about 1 mile away.  It was not easy to transfer all the video equipment quickly from one location to the other, even with the help of my long time helper and interviewer Clive Jaques.

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