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Aggression
03-11-09, 4:37 pm
Better late than never ...

The Cage
As the weekend crept closer, I grew with anticipation. I had absolutely no clue what to expect, but from what I heard, it was going to be a memorable experience. I was able to talk to Enforcer at the Muscle Mill ABC about the Arnold, and he told me it was going to be the best time of my life. And it definitely was ....

As I arrived in Columbus late Thursday night, I was looking around everywhere, hoping to see some big names at the airport. We grabbed our things and then took a cab over to the Regency. As we pull up, I spotted a clan of black-hoodied men leaving the hotel. It was the first batch of Animals on their way to Metro Fitness. Having nothing to eat for hours prior, we decided to check-in and meet for food at Max & Erma's. Three steps into the hotel lobby and Kevin Levrone, my favorite bodybuilder, nonchalantly walks in front of me. Minutes after checking in, Dexter Jackson walks up behind us looking large and in charge. As we get onto the elevator, The House and his family are in it on their way up to the room. Within 5 minutes of being there, I had already met 3 superstars. I laid in bed that night like a 10 year old on Christmas Eve. I couldn't wait to see what would unfold Friday morning.

Breakfast was awesome. As I walked into the buffet area, I see Trey Brewer standing in line for food. I get my food and sit down to eat right next to The House. I shoot the shit and introduce myself to the likes of Hola Bola, Big Wides, McFly, and I spark up conversations with them, as well as Big Ant and Vinny. Big Al arrived a bit later for some grub. As most were finishing up, Frank McGrath comes down and sits directly across from me. I followed this guy's journey all throughout college, using it as motivation and molding my life towards that lifestyle. To see him sit down across from me was crazy. I remember saying to myself, "Holy shit, it's Wrath!!'' HaHa. As I walked out of the dining hall, I see Dorian Yates standing on line for food. Unbelievable, and the day has just started.

I stood on line for my badge and glanced to my left. Jay Cutler was just chillin, waiting in line for his badge like everyone else. Did I mention I was standing alongside Ox and The House in line? That felt great. I walked through the expo hallway side-by-side among these guys, and the looks that were shot our way were that of awe. I'm assuming the typical thoughts were: "Damn those guys are huge", or "Look, that's so and so!", and I imagine at least a thought or two went something like: "Who's that other dude with them?" hahah.

The day took off and we went about our business. I was busy selling gear and supplements to the likes of many, while our big gunz hammered away during lifting contests in the Cage. I met a few good men that included Hola Bola, B Con, Scals, and LittleMan55. I've been following all their journeys for a while now, and they've followed mine. To get to meet them in person was a great experience. Seeing our "Pros vs Bros" was an awesome experience, as was helping our grateful, loyal fans who wanted their limited edition T-shirt and baseball hat. The best part about it was the like of TreeTrunkLegs, our interns, and myself sold gear alongside our pros, such as Big Al and Big Ant. What other booth had their star athletes personally selling stuff and interacting with their fans on that level?

Everyone, including the Pros were so open and nice. They all wanted to shoot the shit with anyone who wanted to listen. It was a helluva experience, standing side by side among giants such as Ox, House, Wrath, and others as if they were normal everyday people. One thing I noticed, which made me proud to be Animal, was the fact that we were the only booth not tossing out random shirts/samples for free. We connected with our fan base on a higher, more personal level. Big Al was selling shirts and talking to customers, as was Big Ant and Rage. If you glanced around, you didn't see anything like that at any other booth.

Friday night we hit up Metro Fitness and I teamed up with LittleMan55 for a brutal arm session. High volume and high reps blasted away at the arms. Metro was packed with Animals and ordinary gym goers alike. It was pure electricity in there, and it was also hot as balls in there. My T-shirt was drenched, literally. I brought an extra shirt, fortunately enough, that i changed into after the session. I felt bad for the guy who had to serve us at Max & Erma's later on. A table of 10-12 big sweaty men could not have smelled OK. Talking and shooting the shit at dinner was another great time. Animals from all over the country gathered up to lift and then eat. We all had common ground and conversed on a number of topics. Dennis Wolf was a few tables away eating.

Saturday was another crazy day. We sold out pretty quickly when it came to our flexfit hats and our T-shirts weren't far behind. At a few times we said to ourselves, "We're going to have nothing to sell tomorrow.'' I spent my breaks wandering around the Expo with my camera, taking pictures of certain people. I was trying to get in close to snap a shot of Cutler. As I was wedging my way up, I saw The Freak next to Cutler, just bullshitting with him. He noticed me and brought me right up behind the booth for a picture with Cutler, avoiding the line that wrapped around the booth. That is what being Animal is all about. Helping your brothers when you can.

ABC National Event - Metro Fitness 3/7/09
Me and J-Dawg smashed up our quads pretty good. Leg presses and squat racks were taken up, so we resorted to hack squats and hammer strength horizontal leg presses, among others. We toasted them pretty nicely, going high reps, banging out 35 reps with 2 pps on the hs horizontal leg press, finishing up with 4 pps x 15. We had to push the clock, because me and TreeTrunkLegs had to bounce by 9pm for an exclusive dinner with Arnold Schwarzenegger. We hustled back to the hotel, stopping for razor blades in the hotel store. I didn't plan on shaving this weekend, but after knowing I was having dinner with The Oak, it only seemed appropriate that I'd clean myself up a bit ...

We sat 2 tables over from Arnold himself. It was surreal. The man I grew up idolizing (and still do) was sitting right in front of me chowing down on a steak. The experience was one I'll never forget, for as long as I live. Me and TTL decided to walk back from the dinner, which was about a mile away. It was another highlight. I've known TTL a while, and it was great to just stroll through Columbus, shooting the shit about training, dieting, and life in general.

Sunday was the final day of the ASC. The crowds were a bit died down, as to be expected. We were busy selling what we had left, and going about our business. Another highlight of the weekend was when a 5 year old girl named Jan walked up in front of me with her father. She shyly pointed her finger at me. I waved hi and he father requested that I take a picture with his daughter, as she had selected me out of all the people in the Shop. I walked around the shop and came out to meet her. She was definitely shy and intimated, but I did my best to make her feel easy. She sat on me knee as her father snapped a photo of us. I gave her an Animal Beanie and she was on her way. I was on cloud 9 for several minutes afterward. She may not have known a thing about Animal/bodybuilding, but she still saw us as more than normal people. Superheros perhaps? It was an awesome feeling.

Sunday night was spent in the airport waiting for our plane. A few of us sat down for food at Chili's too. It was great to sit down with the likes of them and just talk about anything/everything. My flight landed and I got home around 12am. By the time I got to sleep, it was after 1. 6am rolls around and it's time to get back to the office. Adrenaline kept me up for the past 2 days. Today I'm feeling it. I'm beat. 2.5 more days to struggle through until the weekend.

The 2009 ASC was the best experience of my life in soo many ways. It was all because I was a part of Animal and The Cage. If I worked for another booth, I highly doubt I'd have similar thoughts. Thank you to the Animal Crew, pros, bros, interns, and corporate guys alike. It was the best weekend of my life.

J-Dawg
03-11-09, 5:11 pm
Damn A, great writeup about your experiences at The Cage and the whole Arnold weekend. I'm glad you had a good time out there with the rest of us. Training legs with you on Sat. was awesome. I'm still feeling the soreness from all of the high rep sets that we did. It reminded me to not just concentrate on squatting as my sole leg exercise, lol.

B Con
03-11-09, 5:19 pm
A it was an honor to meet you. Great write up and I can only imagine what it musta been like sitting right there by Arnold. Keep strong and looking forward to next year.

mritter3
03-11-09, 5:45 pm
sounds like you had an amazing time, i think that everyone did, can't wit for 2010

hardworkE
03-11-09, 6:35 pm
Great review, for the second time. Haha, like living the experience vicariously through you man. Glad it all worked out like that

cuse88
03-11-09, 7:29 pm
Nice write up. Only about 360 days until The Cage '10.

Phil800101
03-12-09, 4:13 am
Great write up! It was awesome to get to meet you this past weekend.

arsilva
03-12-09, 8:42 am
great writeup bro

naturalguy
03-12-09, 9:18 am
Great experience. You were an integral part of making this the biggest and best Cage to date.