The FIT Expo and Mendelson Classic was off the hook crazee! The tradeshow, sponsored by MuscleTech, 24 Hour Fitness, Subway, Obusforme, MetRx, Max Muscle, Worldwide Sport Nutrition, Ultimate Nutrition, PLUSA, Planet Muscle, Flex, Oxygen, Labrada Nutrition, Bodybuilding.com, Muscle Milk, Prolab, IronMind, Ivanko, IronMan, Gaspari Nutrition, ErgoPharm, MuscleMag International and many more was packed with super freaks and super vixens! There was tons of supplement samples to try out and MuscleTech was even passing out 1 pound containers of Cell Tech and Nitro Tech for free! Not to mention all the great vendor displays, guest gym sports celebrities and mega discounts!
There was a really impressive figure competition (I can't imagine how strict some of these girls' diets must have been), a USPF Mountaineer Cup qualifier (I managed to catch Josh Bryant's sic strong deadlifting), an APF benchpress meet (some serious competitors showed up to bench for this), a pro strongman challenge (Brian Schooveld is looking more massive than ever so watch for even bigger numbers from him if he returns to The Mountaineer Cup to powerlift again), a pro bodybuilding Mr. Olympia qualifier (these guys look like they jumped right out of the Marvel Comics) and The Mendelson Classic!
I was given the very cool opportunity to MC Mendelson's pro bench show at the last minute (he told the other MC to go home I think) and I had the DJ change out his lame radio friendly rock and crank up some of my cd's so LA got to have their heads caved in to White Zombie, Six Feet Under, Bolt Thrower, Slipknot, Disturbed, Drowning Pool, Godsmack, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson and Snapcase while I shouted out for the benchpress behemoths as they charged back and forth across the stage.
BENCHMONSTER KENNELLY - Before the bench brawl, we had a lady get him styled out with horror show show eye liner and black finger nail polish and the L.A. crowd loved the rock n roll style intro complete with screaming loud metal, getting wailed on by his handlers and his face streaked with blood from the pressure of the 800+ lifts. He opened with an 832, couldn't quite get it to touch and pressed it back up. On his second, he came out with murder in his eyes and blasted up an 854. He went to 881 on his 3rd and got it about 3/4 to lockout. His 854 would be prove to be the money bench but, wanting to put on a show for the paying crowd, he went out and took a run at getting his 2nd competition 902.5 but that too stalled out 3/4 of the way up. BenchMonster scored the W though and that got him a $5,000 payday!
BRIAN SIDERS - Siders has been dominating the world of superheavyweight, single ply gear powerlifting for the last couple of years. He holds the total records in the USPF, USAPL and IPF. For the last few months he's been working with WSM finalist Phil Pfister in preparation for the Arnold Classic Strongman Challenge (where, as the IPF SHW World Champion, he'll square off against 9 WSM 2004 finalists.) Mendelson invited Siders out to his pro bench contest just over a month from showtime. Siders, being a good sport and a cool competitor took him up on the invite and began training for both pro strongman and double ply benching. Seeing as he's been working in the 600s unequipped and in the high 700s in his single ply RageX for his other contests, he hadn't up till then been putting in any of the 800+ lockout work that's needed for multi ply shirt, heavyweight, pro competition. That being said, he opened up with an 865 because when he tried out his double ply RageX, that's what it took to touch (it would have been great if he'd had a slightly looser shirt for an opener as he nailed an 810 off a 1 board back in the warm up room.) On his first attempt he got the weight about 3/4 to lockout but it drifted on him and the spotters had to take it. On his second attempt at 865 he shotgunned it off of his chest, locked it out, but then had it wobble and dip before the head judge gave him the rack command.
ANDY FIEDLER - Andy looked super swole but he had needed to take on a 2nd job a few weeks before this contest and so he hadn't trained nearly as much as he'd have liked to and he told me before the show that he didn't feel that he was ready to compete and that he wasn't at 100%. He had committed to the showdown though and like a warrior he answered the call to benchpress battle and took the platform to give it all he had on that day. He opened up with an 854 (he got 825 last winter at the WPO qualifier), got too low with the bar and was unfortunately injured. It's horrible to see someone get hurt lifting weights and knowing that it's one of the most important parts of their life makes it all the more depressing. I hope that Andy recovers quickly and comes back stronger than ever. He is a really nice guy and I appreciated him sitting down to talk with me at the Inzer/Powerlifting USA powerlifting booth.
TINY MEEKER - Was as high voltage and hillarious as ever. A local news crew did a segment with him and he was way on with the one liners and comebacks, doing a great job of promoting powerlifters as cool, upbeat iron pressers. He opened up with 832 but had a tough time getting the weight to touch and he pressed it back up to lockout. He had a worse trouble with his 2nd attempt of 854 and 3rd attempt of 865 but I think that he was just going for it as 1st place was worth $5,000 and 2nd place was worth a pat on the back. Also, we misloaded the bar on him for his 3rd (I'm partially to blame for that as someone told me he wanted to take the same weight as Kennelly so I called out that weight not realising that they'd been upping their attempts and, though we caught it before he started benching, he had to go back, repsyche himself back up and lift at the end of the round and I apologize to him for that screw up.)
Other memorable notes:
Kenny "86'D" Dinolfo getting kicked off both APF platforms for getting too caught up in the action and freaking out.
Peter Thorne hooking me up with a pre MCing massage at the Chinese Hollistic Health booth which led to the crazy LMT lady trying to pull my head off and then using accupressure on my back to make me feel buzzed and when I walked back to get ready it felt like I was in a low gravity room! My freaking neck was bruised the next day cause that chick tried to pick me outta the chair by the base of my skull but I was ready to rock the mic after that! LOL
Ratchweiler yelling at BJ Dirk to "Get out there and get the job done!" and then throwing him at the bench by the back of his neck! That was one of the most intense pre-lift rituals I've ever seen! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Brian Siders standing out front of the convention center with his sweatshirt over his head (looking like a giant McDonalds' Grimace) and telling people in a heavy West Virginian accent "Hi, I like to train traps. I like to train shrugs and partial rack pulls. That's all I train. I like traps." (There's a funny video clip of him saying it again at the hotel after party on his www.briansiders.com website) Also, Siders pressing the roof off of the photo booth across the street and scaring the janitor outside who looked drunk and must have thought that he was seeing things.
Kara "Benchpress Barbie" Bohigian and Mari Asp working the powerlifting booth - Woo Hoo!
Mendelson's microphone and convention hall antics. His amazing benchpressing strength is only equaled by his modesty and subtle communication skills, LOL. (And any rumors about him arguing with any of the other famous lifters is totally made up as I was around all of them almost the whole show and they had a great time joking around with each other and hyping up the friendly rivalries.)
The warm up room where 3 of the benchers smashed up 600 pounds like it was an empty bar before they shirted up!
Shawna Mendelson and the rest of the platform crew were great to work with! I literally got the call to announce about 2 hours before the show and they made it easy for me to rock the house by keeping the production gears turning smoothly.
Yes, the platform was too slippery for the first attempts, but they quickly changed it out and solved the problem. Also, after a couple difficult saves on the 1st round, more troops were called out and the spotter/loaders did a good job keeping the lifters much safer after that.
The judges were very professional and really stayed focused and together which was a challenge considering that it was a pro show with only 4 benchers in the flight, all the attempts were over 800 pounds, the music was freaking rocking and the crowd was going haywire over the iron insanity!
Unfortunately, Andy Fiedler had to head back home immediately because he was supposed to work the next morning, but the other 3 pro benchers and a bunch of us had a really cool after party at Houston's and then back at one of our hotel rooms. We stayed up for hours having some brews (Kennelly and Siders couldn't have beers though as they're both competing at the Arnold Classic), telling hillarious stories and reliving how awesome the weekend had been.
All in all I had a great time and I'm looking forward to attending this festival again next year and to seeing The Mendelson Classic come back just as hardcore as it was this time!