Going to the Arnold Sports Festival? Here's what you need to know

Ashton Rouska, previous powerlifting champion, sets a new American record during powerlifting finals at the 2022 Arnold Sports Festival.
Ashton Rouska, previous powerlifting champion, sets a new American record during powerlifting finals at the 2022 Arnold Sports Festival.

Fitness fans and bodybuilding buffs are in for an exciting start to March, as the Arnold Sports Festival returns to Columbus this weekend.

Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the sports showcase co-founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late Jim Lorimer is expected to attract about 100,000 visitors to watch displays of physique, strength, combat and more by some 12,000 athletes from more than 80 countries competing in 60-plus sports and events.

More:3 things you didn't know about the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus

The Arnold, which takes place Thursday through Sunday, also hosts the nation's largest fitness exposition, the Arnold Expo, with more than 1,000 booths offering the latest in sports equipment, apparel and nutrition, and exhibition stages featuring non-stop competitions.

With so much to see and do, there's a lot you should know before you go to The Arnold Sports Festival.

Where is The Arnold being held?

The Arnold Sports Festival will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High St; Ohio Expo Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue; and a variety of other venues around town including the Hilton Columbus Downtown, 402 N. High St., and Hollywood Casino, 200 Georgesville Road.

What are the hours?

There are a few events at the convention center on Thursday, including the Arnold Amateur judging at Battelle Grand from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weightlifting from 8-10 a.m. in the Union Station Ballroom. Expo hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Schedules for specific events can be found at arnoldsports.com.

Movie star and bodybuilding icon Arnold Schwarzenegger raises the hand of Jim Lorimer after surprising him at the Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau annual meeting in 1998. Schwarzenegger and the late Lorimer founded the Arnold Classic, which became the Arnold Sports Festival, in 1989.
Movie star and bodybuilding icon Arnold Schwarzenegger raises the hand of Jim Lorimer after surprising him at the Columbus Convention and Visitor's Bureau annual meeting in 1998. Schwarzenegger and the late Lorimer founded the Arnold Classic, which became the Arnold Sports Festival, in 1989.

How much are tickets?

Ticket prices vary for individual events including Friday and Saturday night finals, the Strongman Classic, and the IFBB Pro League meet and greet. Daily Arnold Expo tickets are $20 on Thursday; $40 on Friday and Saturday; $35 on Sunday. Children 14 and younger are admitted free to the Arnold Expo with a paying adult. This does not include admission to events requiring individual tickets. There are a variety of fast passes, reserved seating and VIP packages. Tickets are available at the door or online. For more information, see The Arnold website.

What about parking?

Parking will be available at the Ohio Expo Center for $10 or $24 for a weekend pass. Reserved parking is available in Greater Columbus Convention Center garages starting at $20, and in Arena District garages - the Chestnut Street Garage for $25 and the Front Street Garage for $15. To reserve, see The Arnold website under "More."

Also, free Arnold Express shuttle bus service will run between the Ohio Expo Center and the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The shuttle offers wheelchair assistance. Operating hours are listed on the website.

What should I see while I'm there?

The Arnold Classic, the centerpiece of the festival, will feature two-time champion (2018, 2020) William “The Conqueror” Bonac and 2021 champ Nick “The Mutant” Walker, along with eight others. Other bodybuilding events include the Arnold Amateur, classic physique, bikini international and pro wheelchair.

Also popular are the Strongman and Strongwoman classics, which include such shows of strength as elephant bar deadlifting and the aptly named Wheel of Pain. And the Guns & Hoses Charity Boxing Event will feature 24 amateur boxing matches between police officers and firefighters from around Ohio.

Other highlights:

  • USA weightlifting and powerlifting

  • Ninja Classic

  • Arnold IFBB Pro League Meet & Greet (Hilton Columbus Downtown)

  • Battle of Columbus Martial Arts Festival (Ohio Expo Center)

New to the Arnold this year is World Chase Tag, which combines the athleticism of parkour with the game of tag.
New to the Arnold this year is World Chase Tag, which combines the athleticism of parkour with the game of tag.

What's new this year?

The Arnold Sports Festival's newest event is World Chase Tag, which combines parkour with the age-old game of tag in an arena made of steel and wood. Participants will compete in the WCT6 Pan American Championship for the Americas for the chance to go on to the World Chase Tag World Championships later this year. Brent LaLonde, senior event manager for World Championship Events, said he expects World Chase Tag "to be right up there in terms of popularity."

Also, for the first time, the Arnold will have a Ninja Classic youth competition for ages 6-12.

bpaschal@dispatch.com

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: What you need to know if you're going to the Arnold Sports Festival