by Coleman Patrick Ranahan
(Apologies for the semi-blurry phone pics – I didn’t even realize I was going to write about this until half-way through the Expo).
It took nearly three years, but 2018 finally seemed to be the year my schedule wasn’t jam packed or something obscene didn’t interfere, but I finally did it. I went to my first ever… *checks notes…* FitExpo? Wait, you’re telling me out of the years I’ve tried to go to Comic-Con, failed to go to Comic-Con one year for free (there’s a story), I… went to FitExpo? *Looks around the room… UHHH OK.
I’ve always generally hung outside of cons, never to go in. Not really sure why this is a thing for me, but it is. Comic-Con parties? Sure. Comic-Con dinners? Yeah I’ve been to those. Actual cons? Pffft.
*Halts for a second. I’m gonna explain that Comic-Con story real quick. When I first moved to Los Angeles my employer was paying for the entire company to go to Comic-Con, I got confused by the email that was sent out, and thought I was going to have to pay for my own badge like a dope, and decided that a freshly moved face to Los Angeles couldn’t afford that, so I stayed behind as one of five people still working in the office. *Whispers: We had free badges, I just didn’t realize that, and thus the crowned idiot of 2013 was ME. IT WAS ME.
Anyway, a friend and co-worker had been asking me to go with the last two years and it just never worked out for a variety of reasons but my schedule cleared so I bought a ticket. I had no idea what to expect, other than people showing up and shoveling enough free swag down my pie-hole than one of those Vegas strip assholes constantly slapping their hand, trying to convince me to patronize their asshole establishment like giant assholes.
As a person now carless (old car – bad car), I expected to take the bus over, but fuck a bus at 8:30 in the A.M. (mere laziness rather than walk a mile to the bus stop), I was taking a ride-share. So I called a ride-share over, and right away I knew I was in for a thing when the driver was listening to a hunting podcast. Nothing starts a great car-ride by listening to someone talk about the amount of hunters viciously killed by animals and then also killing said animals at eight in the god damn morning. I did the smart thing and opted for some Alex Lahey in my ears.
I was told to arrive early as possible. As for someone who works nights and rarely goes to sleep by 4 A.M., that seemed daunting, but I somehow managed to do it. But upon my arrival at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the driver, just had to, and emphasis on a fervent, GOD MADE ME DO IT, HAD TO, comment about the women who were walking around in work-out attire (he got a down-rating he deserved). So… great start to the morning. Thanks Duck Dynasty.
I got my wrist-band and found my way outside to presumably where the line was. There only seemed like a few people, so I thought I had arrived fairly enough. Turns out, that was just the first, not even tenth of the line, and as I rounded the corner towards the South Hall entrance an endless sea of people suddenly appeared in S-curves everywhere. I knew FitExpo had its fair share of attendees, but mother of god and all that is holy proteins, there was a lot of people, and I was EARLY.
Anyway, after finding my friend in the endless sea of groggy and flexing people and waiting for nearly an hour, we were let in, and our first mission was to hit the two biggest booths possible for the free swag. The first one, Optimum Nutrition *Homer Simpson Voice: Op-ti-mum* was easy. We were in and out. The second, for Bodybuilding.com, was a nightmare.
It was like we had made some bodybuilding god angry and it was only fitting that we stood in line for what felt like an eternity. But the best part, and boy do I use this acrimoniously, was when we neared the start of the free swag line, and two colossal tools, two pompous jackasses who thought they were so clever, looked around – side to side, and motioned that they were going to cut through so they could walk on down the floor, and instead planted themselves in front of us. These shitheads just cut us in line after we waited and waited. Without hestitation, my friend looked at me and said, “Well, I take back my douchebag comment” knowing full well these guys would hear us.
They did, and they turned around. “Sorry bro, we owe you a protein shake,” said one of them. Now first off, fuck you. Secondly, fuck you again. What does that even mean, “we owe you a protein shake”? *Makes jerk-off motion. What, are we going to exchange information and you’ll come find us later, pouring protein shakes into bottles like martinis?
If you wanted to solidify yourself as a Grade-A dumbfuck, you stamped it on your foreheads with a machine press that just about cracked your skulls in half. I very much wanted to force them from the line, but seeing as it was my first Expo, and seeing as how I didn’t want to be the one angry guy who started a fight at a convention of people a hundred times more ripped than I (a human marshmallow beaten with fifteen hammers) in a line for free shit, I let it go.
After we escaped the line with our haul, I came to really learn just how many nutrition companies in existence there were. And Jesus H Amino Acids Christ, to say there are a shit-load is an understatement. I genuinely had no idea. Row after row produced new names and brands I could have sworn emerged from the 2018 primordial ooze like strange fish with legs. Some of them seemed fairly genuine, some Mom & Pop types, some big corporations. Some of them seemed to be for the greater good, and some seemed to have an air of SPRING BREAK BITCHES (Spring-Breaaaaaaak) with techno music and people getting up on stage and doing feats of strength like it was Festivus. Form fitting clothes with designs on them to make it look like the women reps for whatever company were spray-painted on was a strange vibe to me honestly in the era of 2018 but there it was.
My friend rattled off name after name as we walked by or talked to a different Mr. Olympia or workout contest winner like they were NFL wide-receivers, I truly felt out of my depth as a sentient jar of mayonnaise for the first time ever but I went with it.
I tasted enough pre-workout samples to constitute a cocaine over-dose, but at least I didn’t have to buy coffee for a majority of the day. Did you know that you can buy egg-whites that taste like fucking Fruity-Pebbles? Cause I sure as shit didn’t. And they were pouring it out like liquor at your favorite dive bar.
Protein was packed into every single thing you could possibly think of. Bundt cakes (yes, bundt cakes), cookies, bars, and my ears. You could have packed protein into an iron brick and I imagine someone would have probably been munching on it up and down the Expo floor, while muttering about their calves or something. I was amazed. I had truly had my eyes opened for the first time.
When we had finally exhausted ourselves, we venture into a smaller room that seemed to be off the beaten path. There were seminars and demonstrations that noticeably were getting the shaft. I wish I could have given them the time of day but my achy-breaky feet wanted to curl up on the floor like a good book and some whiskey.
When we gathered our wits, we found the food trucks outside the convention hall, and boy were we in for something.
A funk band donning the purest of 70’s disco was on display for us, and while we patiently waited for our pork melt sandwiches (and my friend took off his vest to see if his shoulder muscles were still there), treated us to renditions of the finest 70’s funk you can imagine. Within eyeline, mere yards away as you walked back into the convention center, was a slackline competition bouncing around to the funky beat while a guy on top of a post narrated their every movement. Perfect lunch entertainment.
I mean, not to beat the New Year’s Resolutions thing to death, but if you wanted some motivation going into the New Year to get into shape, visiting the FitExpo will give that to you in spades. I didn’t expect the crowd size to be so large, nor did I expect to find out a new wealth of nutrition companies, but I managed to find that maybe I should pay a little more attention to these kinds of things. I’ll never be some Olympiad, not with my seemingly shadowy carpel-tunnel or creeping non-diagnosed arthritis plaguing me as of late, but if I can keep an eye on the science of all these things, maybe I can better myself in just some slightly interesting ways. Or I could forget it all tomorrow and run head first into a tree, who the fuck knows.
Follow Coleman on Twitter here.
If you liked this post, consider donating to Coleman’s Patreon here.