COLUMBUS, Ohio --
Thousands of spectators stood shoulder-to-shoulder, clutching onto bags filled with sample fitness products they collected during their visit to the annual Arnold Sports Festival, March 3-6.
As each looked left and right eyeing up their next score, they encountered a booth where they’d have to demonstrate their strength in order to obtain a prize.
The booth belonged to the Marine Corps, the challenge was to do as many pull-ups as possible, and the prizes were earned, not given.
Of the expected 175,000 visitors who attended the 2011 Arnold Fitness EXPO, several hundred tested their muscle on the Marine Corps’ pull-up bars, hoping to add a Marine Corps keychain, water bottle, shirt or hat to their collection for the day.
Many of the participants were surprised to realize that some of their pull-ups did not count. Marines assigned to Recruiting Station Charleston, W.Va., monitored the bars to make sure each partaker was getting their chin all the way above the bar and their arms were locked out at the end of each repetitions.“
The Marine Corps is way stricter with their pull-ups then I had previously been accustomed to,” said Christopher Higgins, a Columbus, Ohio native, and annual visitor to the fitness expo. “I go in the gym all the time and think I’m doing 20 to 25 good pull-ups, only to find out that they wouldn’t count in the Marines because I’m not locking my arms out all the way.”
Higgins added that he liked the more efficient manner that the Marine Corps conducted pull-ups and he plans on working on his form before he comes and tackles the bar at next year’s event.
The Marine Corps booth was one of approximately 700 that littered the floor of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Although there were several booths that stood out to visitors, the unmistakable mark of the Marines was apparent in the form of the giant blow-up drill instructor sitting atop a bright red Marine Corps Hummer.
Recruiters who attended the event said the fitness environment was a great place to show off the Marine Corps commitment to staying physically fit and ready.
“Events, such as this, give the Marine Corps exposure to certain people who have the same degree of discipline that Marines do,” said Sgt. Kristin Chambasian, a recruiter for Recruiting Sub-Station Springfield, RS Charleston. “Their mentality in fitness and tackling personal challenges is what makes these events work for us. This is great exposure for the Marine Corps.”
On the final day of the festival, Marines were selected as judges for the bench-press portion of the Arnold 5k Pump and Run. Marines were in charge of counting the bench-press repetitions of each participant before they took off on their 5k run. The number of repetitions they did was significant because it equated to a certain amount of time that would be subtracted from their run, therefore it was very important each Marine count accordingly.
Marines have been judging the bench-press during the Arnold Classic for about ten years, according to Tim Pancher, the co-chairman for the pump and run and the co-coordinator of security for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, during the event.
“We were getting some complaints about the inefficiency of the judging in the past, so I went over to the Marine pull-up challenge one year and asked for some enthusiastic judges to join us,” said Pancher. “From then on, we always have upwards of 15 Marines involved in the judging.”
Pancher went on to add that since the Marine Corps has become involved with the event, it has gone much smoother and they’ve received many compliments from the participants.
“We need our judges to be fair and equitable and the Marine Corps provides that,” said Pancher. “The association between our organization and the Marine Corps has been fantastic.”
The fitness expo began in 1989 as strictly a men’s body building competition and has since expanded into more than 40 different sports throughout the Columbus area, for men and women, becoming the world’s largest multi-sport fitness weekend.
For more information, visit www.arnoldsportsfestival.com.