Behind the Scenes with Women Athletes at The Arnold Sports Festival

Monday morning, it took everything I had to roll out of bed.

NO, it wasn’t because I partied all weekend.

It was because I had spent the last three days pole dancing my little heart out at The Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio! Never have I done so many Fireman Spins in my life, and the ache in my abs and arms was a constant reminder of how much fun it was!

Wellman_TheArnold_Picture4My pole-weekend-extravaganza kicked off Friday night with the PCS Championship competition. This was the second year that The Arnold has featured Pole Fitness, and hosted the PCS Championships.

The Pole Championship Series (PCS) is a professional pole sport organization that selects the most recognized and respected pole competitions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The winner of the PCS Championship becomes the overall PCS Champion. This year, the 2015 competition featured 12 remarkably talented athletes, each bringing their own style of dance and fitness to the stage.

Jazzy Alix took the trophy as champion, and although she’s only been pole dancing for two years, her background in jazz dance and natural athleticism lent itself to her stunning performance.


The next morning, I headed back to the Columbus Convention Center, picked up my super official “Arnold Classic expo pass”, and helped out all day at the X-Pole booth!

The Arnold expo is probably one of the most INSANE experiences I’ve ever encountered. Not only are there A MILLION people walking around, you’ll also find every form of protein, nutrition bar, equipment, and workout clothing you’ve desired. It’s pretty much heaven-on-earth for any workout junkie or fitness fanatic.


My job at the X-Pole booth was to demonstrate strength tricks, spins, and help people give pole fitness a try for themselves! I won’t lie, it was INCREDIBLY satisfying to see these muscular guys come up and try a spin, and realize how difficult it actually is to hold your body weight up by just the pole.


While I was down in the expo, upstairs the First Annual Arnold Amateur Pole Championships were taking place. One of our own Bella Forza pole instructors, Danielle Wimmer, danced in the Women’s Finals and absolutely killed it! We are just so proud of her!


There was also a Men’s Finals, as well as a Masters Finals, which featured women and men ages 40 and up.

Alongside the competition, Arnold attendees could witness first-hand how incredible pole athletes are by watching the free demonstrations on the Concourse Stage all weekend. X-Pole also set up an “Aerial Playground” in one of the ballrooms featuring 10 poles, aerial silks, a lyra hoop, and a trapeze! Everyone and anyone were welcome to come in, play around, and give aerial fitness a try.

Speaking of the Aerial Playground, that is where I spent all day volunteering on Sunday. By this time, my body was sore from head to toe, I was lacking rest (I’m blaming you, daylight saving time), and overall just pooped. But all those aches and pains got pushed to the wayside as soon as I helped that first person nail a fireman spin. There is something just incredible about sharing your passion, and seeing the joy it brings to someone else experiencing it for the first time. Getting to spend the day the fellow aerial-obsessed was pretty amazing too. A handful of the people I worked with had never done pole prior to the day before, and were now back to learn more!

One of the women I instructed mentioned something that really stuck with me.

Initially everything looks so intimidating. There are women here who are so toned, athletic, and muscular, that the average Jane could feel like there is NO WAY she’ll be able to do this. But then you walk in here [the aerial playground], and see all shapes and sizes doing these awesome pole tricks, and it’s just so refreshing.”

I couldn’t agree more. A side effect to The Arnold, and watching all of these insanely talented pole athletes, is it tends to make you feel inadequate. You forget how far you’ve come, and how talented you really are, when you’re watching someone who’s done pole for only a year hold a 5 minute Iron-X.  It can be frustrating.

But this woman helped me remember just how important MY value and pole journey is. No, I’m not doing insane tricks, but I am teaching and helping others fall in love with pole. No, I’m not chiseled and toned, but showing muscle isn’t as important to me as having strength.

We are all strong. We are all sexy.

Next year, you’ll find me first in line to volunteer my skills once more. As exhausting The Arnold Sports Festival was, I had an absolute blast. Spending time with my favorite strong and sexy women, as well as meeting some new ones, made for an absolutely incredible trip.




About Bethany W

Graphic Designer by day, self proclaimed decorator and creator of things by night!
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