The Orlando, FL Europa Sports Expo
Orlando Convention Center
April 28 – 30
It was an intro into a new world. A new adventure into an arena of hard-core fanatics, and dedicated enthusiasts; devout followers and training “Monsters”. The Europa Sports Expo in Orlando, FL at the Orlando Convention Center was “HUGE” in a lot of different ways. There were events like the USA Judo National competitions, the USA Wrestling U-17 competition, the high-level martial arts exhibitions, the international Cross-Fit Championships, the Team USA fencing finals, the Mr. Olympia Body-Building Preliminary competition & Bikini shows, the old-school “American Muscle” car show… and more!
The first thing I noticed upon arrival at the convention center was the overall volume of people in attendance. IT WAS PACKED! People had traveled from across the country to be in attendance at the Europa show as many of the top names in health & fitness were to have booths set up sampling their newest and most innovative products to. The second thing I noticed was the overall presence of Europa Sports. These guys are the “Real Deal” when it comes to putting on a mega-event of this nature and Europa Sports CEO/Co Founder Eric Hillman is one of the most revered people in the entire industry.
So we got there early & helped set up the Nogii Bar booth; Nogii is a gluten-free protein bar endorsed/developed by “The View” personality Elizabeth Hasslebeck. We also helped setup the “NOW Energy Bar” booth with the Europa crew. We were excited to continue our case study on the “Text NOWBar to 90210” campaign as it had yielded positive results (and many late night text messages) in Atlanta the prior day with the appearance by “The Amazing Race” host Phil Keoghan.
We were introduced to high-ranking brand officials from across the fitness arena. Brands like BPI Sports, Gaspari Nutrition, VPX, Betancourt Fitness, CytoTech, EAS, and others were represented through booths, signage, demonstrations and industry talents. The overall mood in the building was electric as everyone in attendance was inundated with free samples of new & cutting edge products and all were treated to some “eye candy” in the form of several lovely “brand ambassadors”. While the main objective of every brand seemed to be to move more units there was an element of teaching & learning going on. It was refreshing to see people so passionate about their brand in such a highly competitive forum. Nutrition, and bodybuilding as a sub-sect, is a forum where “word of mouth” reputations can be changed with one bad batch, so brand relations to the end-consumer are crucial to the overall bottom line. These people knew the in’s & out’s of their products and why I needed to include them into my workout regimen.
The finale’ of the event came in the form of the Men’s Heavyweight IBBF competition with the winner & runner-up qualifying for a spot in the “Mr Olympia Championships” later this year in Las Vegas, NV. These bodybuilders literally looked carved out of italian marble, it didn’t even look real! I hope to one day have a set of six-pack abs again like I did in my early 20’s, these guys didn’t have an ounce of fat ANYWHERE, and thus had 12-packs! The winner & runner-up when asked how they planned to celebrate the qualifying for the Vegas competition was basically unanimous “First we’re going to EAT, and then go back to training!” side caveat to this blog; I would NOT recommend eating at the Orlando-area SIZZLER restaurant, or any SIZZLER anywhere…. ever, whole other story, whole other blog.
All in all well over 60,000 people turned out in attendance of the Europa Sports Expo! It was eye-opening to see the bodybuilding arena as such a tightly knit group of what ultimately amounts to training partners & friends with their own line of products. The people we met truly believe in the products they sell as most of them had a direct hand in either the design, the chemistry or the manufacturing.
Now back to the gym for me… I’ve got work to do if I’m going to be attending these shows!