Baseball has the World Series, Football the Super Bowl, Soccer the World Cup. Just like those sports, competitive fitness (Bodybuilding and Figure) has the Olympia. Unlike those other sports, the competitive fitness championship showing comes with a full weekend of events including the ever popular Olympia Expo.
Vendors, athletes, celebrities, and fans from around the globe travel to Las Vegas to celebrate all things fitness. It is by far the premiere event in the fitness community with only the Arnold Sports Festival coming a close second.
If you think bodybuilding or fitness competing to be obscure events, think again. The expo is no small endeavor. It hosts tens of thousands of attendees and vendors. It occupies close to five hundred thousand square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Las Vegas hosts conventions for everything imaginable, and the Olympia is one of the biggest. In fact, ticket lines often come with waits of up to two hours!
Fitness Tip for those who plan to attend. Start checking the event web site around mid-August and purchase your tickets online. Pick them up the day before at will call and walk right past the line on Friday.
Long departed from just vendor booths the event features a multitude of athletic events and challenges. These include
- Bikini model search
- Karate, Jiu Jitsu & Kickboxing
- Arm wrestling
- Olympia weight lifting
- CrossFit & Ninja Warrior
Athletes travel from around the globe to participate in events such as Tae Kwon Do. Even the Boxing and MMA stars of tomorrow prove themselves in fights that occur right on the convention floor for all to see. You need not be a competitive athlete though. Every attendee is free to sign up to compete in any variety of events including Ninja Warrior obstacle courses just like you see on NBC. Check out the photos below to see the challenges.
Vendors populate a large portion of the convention floor. Supplement companies like Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Ultimate Nutrition, and Quest are there in full force. They all feature extensive booths (complete with lights and media) populated by their sponsored athletes who share with you all of their newest product innovations. You can sample anything from protein bars, shakes, pre workouts, and more. Most will offer some type of gift bag in exchange for you signing up for their email list.
Interested in buying some of your already favorite supplements? Most vendors sell their products as or below cost. As an example, I purchased a case of my favorite protein bars at a discount of close to $15.00 off what retail is.
Now if you are new to the fitness world or never attended a fitness event you might have a preconceived notion that ego is abundant. This is an understandable assertion, but wrong in many senses. Most of the athletes and exhibitors are very friendly and welcoming. They encourage photos and love to have fun with the attendees. I personally have met several fitness competitors who remember me from year to year, some of whom I’ve even corresponded with after the event.
Keep in mind that except for the likes of Jay Cutler who turned bodybuilding into a career and business, most of these athletes have day jobs and regular lives like the rest of us. I met one sponsored athlete who is a Police Chief in his hometown.
If you are unable to get tickets for the main event Saturday night, there are several other competitions that occur right on a stage located at the rear of the expo hall. IFBB Pro League Women’s Fitness, Bikini, Figure and Women’s Physique as well as Men’s Physique, occur right in the expo hall and it’s free with your expo ticket. You can even see the judging and awards live on the same stage.
The expo ticket also gives you access to seminars like the one hosted by 4 time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler. When was the last time your baseball ticket got you into a Q&A session with like likes of the game’s top players?
Probably one of the biggest happenings of the entire weekend was the appearance of none other than Dwayne Johnson, yes the same guy who is The Rock, the same guy who made Vin Diesel look small on screen, the same guy who is one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
Dwayne Johnson was given The Man of the Century Icon Award and just formed a partnership with Mr. Olympia LLC to broadcast the 2017 Mr. Olympia live on TV.
And for those of you wondering, he is indeed the same electric personality in person that he is on screen, even standing atop a twenty-foot platform stage before thousands of fans.
The expo event wraps up Saturday night at The Orleans Arena where ticketed attendees watched the main event for Mr. Olympia as well as the 212 (a show for bodybuilders under 212 pounds) and Figure Olympia Finals.
This year’s Mr. Olympia Expo winners included….
1ST Phil Heath
2nd Shawn Rhoden
3rd Dexter Jackson (aged 46 who has won or placed in the top 6 of every show he has competed in since 2001 in a contest history dating back to 1992. Dexter has made 17 Olympia appearances and shows no sign of slowing down.)
1ST Latorya Watts
2nd Candice Lewis Carter
3rd Cydney Gillon
1ST Courtney King
2nd Angelica Teixeira
3rd India Paulino
I want to close this the same way as last year’s article on The Olympia Expo by offering some tips if you plan to attend. After ten years of going to this event I have learned a few tricks.
Fitness Tips on Attending the Olympia Expo
- Buy your tickets ahead of time online (see link above). The best part is, tickets come with free magazine subscriptions that more than pay for the ticket price.
*Also note that Mr. Olympia LLC offers a select number of tickets (200 for 2016) free to active duty military. Check their website for details in 2017.
- Bring a bag or backpack. It is not unrealistic to be able to walk out of there with literally two to ten pounds of supplement samples and merchandise. Don’t forget the low cost supplements and workout gear.
- Bring cash. Most vendors accept credit through things like Square but Wi-Fi can be touch and go. Cash transactions are fast and easy.
- Don’t let the long line put you off. The event inside is well worth it and can realistically encompass five to eight hours. If you do plan to wait in line be mindful that Las Vegas temperatures in mid September are in the mid to high 90s and lines are formed outside in the sun.
- It is perfectly fine and acceptable to wear gym clothes. This is especially true if you want to try any of the events. Leave the dress up and heels for another event.
- Parking fills up fast, even in the satellite lots across the street. Additionally, parking at the time of this writing was $10.00. The $10.00 is worth it if you are carrying heavy purchases back to your car. Take advantage of the shuttles from The Orleans Casino, or use public transportation. There are bus and monorail routes that bring you right to the convention center.