Largely the Truth

The 2011 Mr. Olympia Expo

Visiting the floor of the Mr. Olympia Expo was like being part of an organized tour to another planet; one where all food comes in powder or pill form, the water is electric blue and actually makes you thirsty, and all the natives have bodies straight out of comic books or the magazines I hide under my mattress.

Held over two days at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, the expo hosts hundreds of vendors, thousands of products and tens of thousands of bodybuilding fans in a roughly 220,000 foot exhibition space. Vendors - Optimum Nutrition, Met-RX, Cytosport, to name a few – hand out countless free samples of energy drinks, protein powders, and brightly coloured pills of mysterious intent to attendees; so many freebies are handed out that complimentary plastic tote bags are distributed at the door.

The laws which govern the American dietary supplement market are notoriously lax, so with many of these products it’s up in the air as to whether or not they perform the function advertised on their package or simply wage guerrilla warfare on your organs. That didn’t seem to deter the throng of swollen-armed young men I saw dragging two or three of these sacks back to their cars like an army of overdeveloped Grinches sacking Whoville.

I couldn’t help but notice how many convention attendees conformed to a particular type – the men with body fat in the single digits, bulging muscles and cleanly-shaved dome heads, the women with narrow faces, fitness model bodies and clothing so tight it can only be removed with paint thinner. The uniformity was such that I wondered: do the men wear differently coloured exercise shorts and sneakers so their girlfriends can tell them apart? Do their girlfriends do the same?

“Hey Biff!”

“Baby, I’m not Biff, I'm Buff! Biff has the red shorts!”

“I’m not Baby, I’m Bunny!”

And so on.

The convention floor was also home to a number of events, including official Olympia events like prejudging for Figure, Fitness, Bikini & Ms. Olympia, as well as the 202 Showdown (Mr. Olympia for guys under 202 pounds). Prejudging involves all competitors going through a series of mandatory poses while judges rate them for symmetry, proportion and who they're mostly likely to score with.

Also on the floor were non-IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders - the organization to which all professional bodybuilders belong) Olympia events like the Strongman Challenge, Powerlifting Championship, Kickboxing and others along those lines.

I was up until 5am editing and uploading photos to my Olympia Blog on the first night of the convention so I slept through much of the Expo's second day. That means most of what you're about to see is from the first day of the Expo. Enjoy?