Every March, about 175,000 athletes and enthusiasts converge on Columbus, Ohio for the Arnold Classic,a sports festival created by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s Fashion Week on steroids for the fitness industry; a mix of major players and mom-and-pop companies flexing their fashion muscles.

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Many of them employ some of the best bodies in the industry to pitch their products,  wearing muscle shirts and tight-fitting t-shirts emblazoned with the brand name they’re representing.  After spending two full days making my way through the maze and malaise, I spotted some definite trends:  neon green is alive and well, making a bold statement – and working well as an accent color with slate grey.  Other strong colors are  aqua blue, bright red and fuchsia – especially on gym bags and  posing bikinis for fitness models (and adventurous drag queens?).  My favorites were created by a small venture calling itself “Suits by Sassy”, featuring bikinis bedazzled with all kinds of accents, from faux pearls to sequins.

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Successful companies that made names for themselves as gym chains or supplements are turning that brand awareness into fitness fashion, most notably Golds Gym, where a young Arnold pumped iron in Venice Beach.   Many popular tshirts and hats include tough-talking, inspiring slogans like, “Stop Whining,” “Get Strong” and “Go hard!”. Elite Physique also featured some bold statements and a cool logo that made their workout clothes an attractive option. The most impressive and creative use of these slogans was presented by Quest Apparel, incorporating a subtle “never quit” on their fashion forward dressier shirts that would be perfect for clubbing or an outdoor party in Miami or Ibiza.

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When it comes to fitness bags, the company making the biggest splash here was Six-Pack Fitness, out of San Francisco. Creative Director Misha Breyburg  told me he came up with the idea in a dream.  A fitness fanatic, Breyburg was a realtor who was always on the go and could never eat the right meals to get him that fabled six-pack.  So he designed a bag that enables you to carry meals that you can eat throughout the day, complete with a compartment to keep them cool and room for all of your gear.  The bags are colorful and well designed and their logo really pops.  They did the best job of creating a fun experience at The Arnold.

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Some notes on hair styles – spiky, gelled looks were everywhere, as were all manners of Mohawks, including a faux feathered version in neon yellow.  As for shorts, the U.S. Army – here to recruit as they often do at major sporting events around the U.S., outfitted their soldiers in Rugby style short-shorts.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger has not only created a terrific venue where everyone from bodybuilders to gymnasts compete for medals and trophies – he’s brought together some of the best names in the fitness fashion business for an expo that’s not to be missed.

Post and photos by Steve Oldfield.

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