The Arnold Classic, renamed Arnold Sports Festival, is an annual multidisciplinary sports convention named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, focusing mainly on bodybuilding and fitness and figure competition. It takes place in late February or early March in Columbus, Ohio, United States.
It is considered the most lucrative competition in bodybuilding, with a number of large prizes. Most notably, first prize consists of a $130,000 check, a Hummer vehicle, and an Audemars Piguet watch. The Arnold Classic rivals the Mr. Olympia in prestige and popularity. Like most bodybuilding competitions it is always hotly contested, and often only one or two competition points will separate the winners.
The Arnold Classic includes three different competitions for women: Ms. International, Fitness International, and Figure International. It has also been expanded to feature gymnastics, all-star cheerleading competitions, dance competitions, fencing, skateboarding, table tennis, yoga, martial arts, strongman competitions, archery, wrestling, powerlifting and many other sports.
The Arnold Strongman Classic is now one of the most high profile events in the strongman calendar. Beginning in 2006, events in boxing, martial arts and figure skating were added at Nationwide Arena. The Arnold Expo is held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, while finals of the bodybuilding, fitness, figure, and strongman competitions are held in the Franklin County Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
If a competitor takes part in the all-star cheerleading division, competitions span over a two-day period (usually all day Saturday up to mid day Sunday). There is usually around 4,000 or more competitors entered into the cheerleading event. Each team (contains 15-30 cheerleaders)prepares to perform a 2 minute 30 second routine.
After the teams' routines are complete, they are then scored by a panel of judges. Each judge on a panel is an expert on one portion of cheerleading (jumps, tumbling, stunting, etc.). Once scoring is complete, every team entered in the competition are called to the mat for awards. During the awards, each team has a chance to win multiple titles and awards. The Arnold Classic's awards consist of the following: National Champion jackets, trophies for every team, custom medals, limited edition patches and Grand Champion banners, and possible parital or full paid bid to Cheerleading Worlds.
In June 7, 2013, event promoter of the Arnold Sports Festival, Jim Lorimer, announced that in 2014, the Arnold Classic 212 professional men’s bodybuilding division would replace the Ms. International women’s bodybuilding competition at the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival. Lorimer, in a statement, said “The Arnold Sports Festival was proud to support women’s bodybuilding through the Ms. International for the past quarter century, but in keeping with demands of our fans, the time has come to introduce the Arnold Classic 212 beginning in 2014. We are excited to create a professional competitive platform for some of the IFBB Pro League’s most popular competitors.”
- Greater Columbus Convention Center. "2013 Arnold Cheerleading & Dance Championships". Arnoldsportsfestival.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- "Ms. International Dropped from 2014 Arnold Sports Festival". Hard Body News. June 7, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.