The Arnold Classic Sports Festival is one of the largest in the world. It just so happens to take place in Columbus, OH, where I just happened to move to. My first Arnold Classic was in 1999. My wife knew a person that knew someone that got me the gig to sell programs. I was the guy outside trying to get people to buy a program for $10.
Because I sold programs for the event, I was able to do some cool stuff. I got into the expo for free, I was allowed into the VIP area, and I even scored a polaroid with Arnold himself. I literally walked by him, they took a picture, and handed it to me. It probably all happened within one second.
What I Realized
I started looking at the environment. I started to look at the people that showed up every year. Like I said before, I had high aspirations to be on the cover of fitness magazines. I wanted to be in the industry because it’s what I love to do.
Every year I look at my career in March because that’s when it all began. When I started going to the Classic with an intention, that’s when things started to change. I went every year since 1999, missing only one year due to having a non-compete. That’s a different story though.
I would go to every magazine and every supplement company… for about a decade. I didn’t have this strategy in 1999, but for the next eight years I tried to get better by the Arnold Classic. I tried to look better, have better photos, develop a better strategy, and make myself more valuable. I went everywhere.
No one had a 180-fitness guy. No one had a 180, drug-free, fitness guy that could produce content like this in my opinion. Straight up, I went to these companies and told them that I have the workout game, I can speak well on camera, and I outlined what I could do to make their business more valuable. I was ahead of the game. I was knocking on everyone’s door.
MuscleTech, Gaspari, Optimum, BSN, etc. Everybody. I’m going to every magazine. Physical, Muscle & Fitness, Fitness RX, Men’s Health, etc. I mean everyone. I’m probably one of the most persistent people because I believe in me.
Years Go By
Years and years go by. I’m paying out of my own pocket for my photo shoots. No one is giving me shit. I’m paying local people, I’m trying to get better, I’m competing, I’m building a personal training business, and five years later I’m still knocking. Six years later I’m still knocking.
In 2007 I found a magazine I had never heard of that had advertisers in it that I had never heard of before. I’m up at 2am emailing anyone I can to tell them what I offer and what I do. All to try to get some sort of sponsorship. Knocking and knocking. Two people actually received the emails that night. One was to sponsor me with a company that no one had ever heard of, which had been in a magazine that I had never heard of but got for free at the Arnold Classic.
One email makes it all the way to Jeremy Deluca, one of the co-founders of Bodybuilding.com. He sees pictures that I paid $200 for in Columbus, Ohio. He says, “You know what? I’m going to buy one of these for $500.” Little did I know, he was going to put a full-page ad in Muscle & Fitness, Fitness RX, Men’s Fitness, etc. A full-page ad with CoryG. Boom. It was crazy. The second email comes back telling me that a small company in Colorado wants to sponsor me. That became the initial relationship with my business partner for MusclePharm.
A no-name magazine, from a no-name company, that I got at the Arnold Classic. It’s all because I was there looking to be this person.
Build Your Own House
I realized that I had to build my own motherfuckin’ house. No one is understanding the value I bring. No one understood what I believed I could do. So, I took shit into my own hands. I was going to build my own company. I’m going to make them wish that they asked me to be affiliated with their brand.
The reason I had millions of people consuming on Bodybuilding.com, the Blueprint with Arnold, Squat Every Day, The Bizzy Diet, and the Get Swole Trainer, is because of my content. I made them wish that they had me on their team.
I was ready to build the biggest house on the block and turn up. I’ve never gone away since. I commanded respect through my work ethic, time invested, and the value I brought to the table.
Some get the door answered right away, some don’t. The point is… I didn’t get discouraged after year 1, 2, 3, etc. There were guys around me that were 220 and shredded, some were on drugs, and I’m over here weighing in at 170 pounds (I’m telling people I’m 180) just trying to get a nod. It just wasn’t my path.
I wasn’t meant to fit in someone else’s system. I was meant to create my own. Nothing has changed my entire career. No one was going to put me on. No one was going to show me love. I had to create the opportunity myself.
You have to keep knocking. At some point, if you don’t think the doors are going to be opened, you have to create your own.