The Arnold Sports Festival will feature the IFBB Pro Women’s and Men’s Physique divisions for the first time in 2015. The announcement was made on Facebook and noted the first Women’s Physique Olympia winner, Dana Linn Bailey would be competing. As you might expect from a few online keyboard warriors, not every comment about the addition was positive. The Arnold Facebook page boasts over 2 million fans and with that you have to expect varied opinions on pretty much everything.
When the Olympia added Physique to the 2014 event the division was validated. The announcement from the Arnold Sports Fesitval reinforces it. Competitors now have two major titles to strive for and it will ultimately help increase the numbers in the amateur ranks. If you look at the big picture, the IFBB Pro women’s physique division is still in its infancy. This year’s pro competitions have been attracting more entrants but are we seeing more ticket buying fans? As of yet, I’d guess no but like anything new time will ultimately be the deciding factor.
The challenge will be HOW to make the division appealing to fans. It’s a challenge that should be, at least in my opinion, a shared responsibility by everyone in the industry. The Pro League is helping do their part by providing competitors a stage to compete on and at the biggest events. The division has to gain more traction within the bodybuilding industry before it can gain popularity outside of it. The bodybuilding and fitness media has yet to do much on the division and you rarely see women physique competitors in any of the magazines. Men’s Physique competitors are getting more exposure in the magazines because it’s a more “mainstream look”. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing “mainstream” about the Women’s Physique division and that’s okay. The same could be said for other divisions as well, with maybe the exception of Bikini when it comes to mass appeal. It’s not a look most people can related to and that too is not a bad thing. Instead of trying to gain “mainstream” acceptance better time may be spent sharing the benefits of eating healthy, training and goal setting. Many of the pro physique competitors are doing a bang up job of promoting themselves but are missing the big picture. They share a responsibility in promoting the division as well. As Dana Linn Bailey’s husband pointed out in his Facebook comment after the announcement.
The 2015 Arnold Sports Fesitval will be held on March 5-8, in Columbus, Ohio. Visit arnoldsportsfestival.com for tickets and more information on next year’s events.