“Bottom line: we are back because the virus has been reduced down to such an extent so that we can celebrate fitness,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger. 2022 was the return and expansion of dance fitness and yoga at the Arnold. Three weeks after the 2022 Arnold Sports festival concluded in Columbus, Ohio the rates of hospitalization and death due to Covid-19 remain on the decline in central Ohio.
Dance fitness activities at the Arnold expanded to two stages, including one on the main floor, and had great attendance this year. Darlene Parker drove down from Mansfield, OH just for the Xtreme Hip Hop experience. Cleveland-based fitness pro Phil Weeden had been teaching his Xtreme Hip Hop programs online for most of the pandemic.
“I had pneumonia over the Winter,” said Parker, “[And I] couldn’t walk 12 feet and breathe for awhile, then I found Phil online and loved it. It healed me, and when I saw that I could come do it live, I just had to come.”
There was a very large Zumba presence at the 2022 Arnold, and many Zumba classes were held in the Short North Ballroom. Also, there were teaching programs, instructor awards and “the best dance party ever” as stated by organizer Pamela Conn. Other dance fitness programs including pound fitness, salsa dancing and Swerk were also at the 2022 Arnold. Swerk gained new fans as body-builder competitors looked on. “I can see how that would be a good workout,” was overheard from attendees. “All the big joints are moving well.” An estimated 400 people participated in dance fitness events from March 3 to 6, in 2022.
The 2022 Arnold’s exhibitor floor responded to past criticism about crowding. There were wider aisles and much more spacing around events. Some competitions were noticeably smaller, such as the wheelchair body building event, but many were just as large as ever. Fencing has expanded so much that it moved to the Ohio Expo Center and was held on the weekend following the Arnold Classic. Art at the Arnold was absent this year, yet professional body painting artists did do various projects. Many amateurs including a crew of ham radio operators and other volunteers were on hand as usual. Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged before this year’s event that any Arnold Sports Festival takes the effort of many. “It is thousands of people that work on this, and they work throughout the year to put this together.”
Brian Powers, new executive director of the Arnold Sports Festival, expressed confidence in the Arnold 2022. “Certainly, [there is] lots of symbolism here. Lots of excitement around being one of the large events that is coming back for our audience. They have been loyal to us and our exhibitors have been super loyal to us.” Large numbers of both sponsors and participants returned to the convention center during the first weekend in March, 2022 helping to reinvigorated the Columbus tourist economy.
“We bring a lot to the city, and they give a lot back. It’s a great partnership,” noted Powers.
The Arnold Sports Festival has scheduled next year’s dates as March 2 to 5, 2023 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Arnold Schwarzenegger noted that after a 2 year hiatus, “All these years later, 52 years later, here we are still in Columbus, Ohio and it’s growing and growing and growing.”
For more information, visit arnoldsportsfestival.com.