We Tried to Guess What Types of Athletes Went to The Arnold Sports Festival

It’s hard to imagine that when Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally laying out his signature festival blueprint, he foresaw the world’s best physique athletes sharing a venue alongside dudes sparring with axes and swords while wearing medieval body armor.

Yet that’s how large the Arnold Sports Festival has grown since Rich Gaspari walked away with the inaugural title of Arnold Classic champion way back in 1989. The Arnold Sports Festival, held each year in Columbus, Ohio, has grown from one of bodybuilding’s most prestigious events to a global celebration of sports and fitness events of all body types and varieties—from mainstream, to avant garde, to at times off the wall.

And as thousands attended the recently wrapped up 34th staging of the event, any general fitness enthusiast walking through the Greater Columbus Convention Center might struggle to guess with whom they might be sharing have been sharing the space based on appearance alone. Yes, there were bodybuilders and bench press champions, wrestlers and strongmen—but also Scottish Highland Games athletes, jump rope wizards, slap-fight savages, even medieval combat competitors. All told, the athletes who traveled to participate in the festivities represented close to 60 different disciplines.

So Men’s Health video producer Tony Xie took on the challenge of guessing different athletes' chosen sport while he was attending the Arnold Sports Festival. Our host was given three guess based on three questions he asked each athlete:

  • How long have you been in your sport?

  • What is the most common injury in your sport?

  • What is a common misconception about your sport?

The result: It’s not that easy picking out an athlete on just appearance and instant interrogation. What did he find out? Most athletes are willing to suffer for their sport, as broken bones, tendon tears, even the risk of death was a common theme among the Arnold competitors. And everyone was willing to accept that risk for the spirit of competition.

So never judge a book by its cover, according to Xie’s findings: “Everyone can find their own sport,” he says.

You Might Also Like