Yoga and Fitness at The Arnold Sports Festival on Target
“There should be yoga at the Arnold,” said Taylor Victor of Toledo, “So I looked it up, there it was, and I said [to my boyfriend], sure, I will go with you to the Arnold.” Victor was one of over 600 estimated attendees at the yoga and fitness events at the 2018 Arnold Classic.
“What a weekend of amazing energy!” said co-organizer Julie Wilkes. “We are so happy to bring a variety of studios, types of fitness and yoga, and presenters to the Arnold to offer a one-of-a-kind event!”
Her co-organizer, Pamela Conn of Columbus Fit Life agreed, “We saw this as a great opportunity to showcase our Columbus talent and also bring in some phenomenal, international teachers. I had instructors from beyond my own studio, and we had 200 people come up for the Zumba Dance Party with Loretta Bates.”
“This year we had the great opportunity to showcase 10 different Fitness Formats to the community,” continued Conn. “The talent and passion of our local instructors and International presenters was palpable in the incredible energy shared by everyone. Fitness is fun and for everyone no matter age, fiscal condition or previous experience, you will find an activity you enjoy doing every day.”
Wilkes also reached out to local yoga studios; she included presenters from Yoga On High, LIT Life + Yoga and Dharma House, as well as her own Seven Studios.
“The Thai yoga [from Charles Gibson Fitness] was especially interesting and gave me great new ideas for poses,” said Sharon Jeanneret, yoga teacher and strength trainer, who came up from Circleville, Ohio.
The presenters at The Arnold’s yoga and fitness events also had positive comments. OmStars yoga teacher Irene Pappas said, “I loved walking around and checking our all the different booths and amazing athletes performing. … Teaching yoga there definitely challenged my focus, but it was overall a great experience, and Julie did a wonderful job coordinating.”
Victoria Frye who led Buti Yoga demos and the Zumba Jammers (Dan DelliQuadri, Ria Martin, Amanda Smith and Lynn Blakeley) obviously had lots of fun onstage.
“There was a variety of presentations, and it was a good format,” said Jeanneret.
Local fitness apparel maker Bend Active Wear sponsored the fitness and yoga events and held fitness fashion shows multiple times a day. Co-owner/fashion designer Laura Heller said, “We were very pleased with the models (#TeamBend) for the fashion show; we really wanted to showcase our fitness wear with a variety of body types.”
Models came from the ranks of local fitness instructors and included a breast cancer survivor.
“We enjoyed our experience at the Arnold and met so many inspiring people as part of the Fitness and Yoga program,” said Bend co-owner Adam Heller, “The Arnold organizers and the Columbus Convention Center provided an amazing and accommodating space that allowed us to show off our Fitness + Fashion apparel and the #TeamBend models who were beautiful inside and out.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger himself stopped in to check things out! Earlier in the year, Wilkes and Pamela Conn had to make presentations to him and other organizers.
“It was challenging,” noted Wilkes, “They had over 92 presentations to go through, but [Arnold] was amazing and so full of positive energy.”
One of Wilkes’ beliefs is that yoga should be for every body. She made sure that yoga events were accessible and even included a yoga session designed for amputees.
“We offered a little something for everyone, and we saw a variety of people participate and connect as a community,” she said.
Conn and her fitness instructors also thoroughly enjoyed the variety of people who came upstairs to check out dance fitness. I heard one bystander say, “It is just so good to see every body moving [to Zumba] with no holding back … they’re just doing it!”
The goal of this year’s Fitness and Yoga events at The Arnold was to have participatory sessions that were inclusive, and the organizers succeeded in having non-competitive events that were open to all.
“It was such a privilege and so much fun to bring Columbus yoga and fitness together to celebrate positivity and make everyone feel good,” said Wilkes, “We ended the weekend on a high and are already starting to program ideas for next year.”