TEAMWORK EVENTS BLOG
Teamwork Event Specialists is a national leader in special event general contracting and production.
We are based in the Boston area with offices in major cities throughout the U.S.
Teamwork Event Specialist clients include among the world’s largest and best known companies, as well as small and recent startups, and businesses of every size and profile in between. Every client receives the same uncompromising Teamwork dedication to quality.
One of our newest clients, one which holds a name of high renown in the fitness and sports performance category, is Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend – the world’s premier bodybuilding and fitness event, held annually in September in Las Vegas.
This year’s Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend started two days ago and runs through tomorrow.
Teamwork is the official general contractor for the 2017 event, which includes the main events: the Mr. Olympia, and the fitness, physique, and bikini competitions held at the The Orleans Hotel & Casino – and the exposition which is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The exposition will include a tradeshow and several demonstrations and competitions. Among the tradeshow exhibitors will be sports nutrition, sports equipment, sportswear, and gym franchise companies. On the demonstration and competition front there will be martial arts, a male fitness model search, CrossFit, powerlifting, Zumba, a Strongman challenge, LexTwerkout (LTO), and a Ninja Warrior gauntlet.
Across both venues, Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend will occupy more than 500,000 square feet. More than 200 exhibitors will participate in the tradeshow portion of the exposition.
“The Mr. Olympia competition is iconic, and the most powerful brand name in bodybuilding and fitness,” said Curt DaRosa, General Manager of Teamwork Event Specialists-. “And Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend is the signature, the number one, event in all of bodybuilding and fitness. It is an honor for Teamwork to serve as the official general contractor.”
A Culture and Sport is Born
From whence originated Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend?
This is a story is, as it would have to be, of bodybuilding – and of fitness.
Some might say that serious bodybuilding … and fitness … in America traces to the Physical Culture movement, which started in the mid 1800s in the U.S., Germany, and England. Physical culture stressed calisthenics, gymnastics, and combat sports such as boxing, fencing, and wrestling. The movement also featured the use of exercise equipment.
Then there was Jack LaLanne, who in 1936 opened the first fitness club in the U.S. Weightlifting (aka resistance training) was one component of LaLanne’s prescription for healthy living, along with a strict diet of natural foods. Through his TV exercise show, and books, and other media, he and his teachings achieved pop icon and powerhouse brand status.
Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend, though, is more directly rooted to the establishment – in 1946 – of the first true international bodybuilding organization: the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB).
Founding the IFBB were two brothers from Montreal, Ben and Joe Weider. The IFBB founding countries were Canada and the United States. Right out of the blocks the IFBB ran various bodybuilding contests and events.
Until the mid-1960s, bodybuilding held only a small niche in U.S. culture. Even as it was a serious hobby to many, it was not widely popular. It was not considered anything close to mainstream. Not many thought of it as a sport.
That began to change when early in the spring of 1965, the Weider brothers – with Joe Weider taking the lead – decided and took upon themselves to found a signature bodybuilding championship event, one that would give the biggest name bodybuilder of the day, Larry Scott, a chance to win a title of higher profile than those of Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe, all of which he already had claimed.
It would be a title that also conferred a cash award – albeit modest.
What the Weiders launched was Mr. Olympia, the supreme bodybuilding event and title.
The inaugural Mr. Olympia was held on September 18, 1965 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Predictably, becoming the first Mr. Olympia and winning $1000, was Larry Scott.
Larry Scott repeated as champion in 1966 and won another $1000.
Bodybuilding and its culture were about to explode.
Aiding that explosion was a new type of bodybuilder: one more massive and defined, and displaying a form of proportion and sweep and symmetry not yet seen. Two of those men – the primary and best known exemplars of the new type – were Sergio Oliva, from Cuba, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Austria.
Sergio Oliva won the 1967, 1968, and 1969 Mr. Olympias. Runner-up in the 1969 contest was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger won the five Mr. Olympias held from 1970 through 1975.
By 1970, the IFBB had officials in 50 countries – with those countries spanning across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America
Also helping considerably the profile of bodybuilding was the release of the 1977 docudrama “Pumping Iron,” which dramatized and told the story of bodybuilders preparing for and competing in the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions.
Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on “Pumping Iron”:
“ …. Directed by George Butler and Robert Fiore, it is inspired by a book of the same name by Butler and Charles Gaines, and nominally centers on the competition between Arnold Schwarzenegger and one of his primary competitors for the title of Mr. Olympia, Lou Ferrigno. The film also features segments on bodybuilders Franco Columbu and Mike Katz, in addition to appearances by Ken Waller, Ed Corney, Serge Nubret, and other famous bodybuilders of the era.
“Shot during the 100 days leading up to the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and during the competitions themselves, the filmmakers ran out of funds to finish production and it stalled for two years. Ultimately, Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilders featured in the film helped to raise funds to complete production, and it was released in 1977. The film became a box office success, making Schwarzenegger a household name. The film also served to popularize the culture of bodybuilding, which was somewhat niche at the time, and helped to inspire the fitness craze of the 1980s; following the film’s release, there was a marked increase in the number of commercial gyms in the U.S.”
“Pumping Iron,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the competition, surely helped to inspire the “fitness craze of the 1980s”. It was germination for the florescence of the modern health club in America during that decade.
This is true even if an argument can be made that the first modern health club was launched when Joe Gold, himself a fitness and bodybuilding pioneer, opened his first Gold’s Gym, in 1965 in Venice, CA.
(The “modern” health club was differentiated from Jack LaLanne’s fitness clubs in that it was larger and had for more types of exercise equipment.)
What also early on powered the American fitness craze was the performance that birthed and gave rise to the 1970s running boom in America: the U.S.’s Frank Shorter winning the gold medal in the marathon in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
And, for sure, when the 1980s arrived, the U.S. was engulfed in a fitness epidemic.
Consider this excerpt from a story, titled, “Club Industry Features Clubs of the 1980s,” published in 2008 at the website of Club Industry, an online gym and health club industry publication:
“By the time the 1980s — the decade of Ronald Reagan, ‘Dallas’ and JR Ewing, Richard Simmons, big shoulder pads and even bigger hair — arrived, the fitness industry had emerged from basements and garages where it had been home to bodybuilders to become an industry of tennis, racquetball and fitness facilities appealing to a broader market with broader offerings. In 1981, 70 million Americans — about half the adult population — did some form of exercise compared to 24 percent who did so in 1960. Thirteen million of those people belonged to at least one of the 5,000 health clubs in the country at that time.”
Please click here to be taken to the full story, written by Pamela Kufahl, Editor-In-Chief of Club Industry.
Joe and Ben Weider continued to shepherd the bodybuilding aspect of the fitness craze. They continued to build the Mr. Olympia, which was a component of a broad bodybuilding and fitness empire – one that included other competitions, and publishing and nutritional supplements.
Bodybuilding grew, and Mr. Olympia served as a standard bearer and spearhead for that growth.
In 1980, the inaugural Ms. Olympia, the professional female bodybuilding contest counterpart was held. Winning the competition was Rachel McLish. The Ms. Olympia, which would become the Miss Olympia, was held annually as a stand-alone event until 2000, when it became a part of what was then called the “Olympia Weekend,” of which the locus was the Mr. Olympia competition.
On the men’s side of the ledger, by 1984, first-place prize money had reached $50,000. Winning the 1984 Mr. Olympia, as he would do for the following seven straight years was the U.S.’s Lee Haney. When the UK’s Dorian Yates, in 1992, began his six-in-a-row winning streak, he took home $100,000, as he would for every win.
On the scene, in 1998, was Ronnie Coleman, a U.S. athlete. His win, in New York City, came with a $110,000 cash award. Following the 1998 contest, Mr. Olympia was moved permanently to Las Vegas. It was in Las Vegas that Ronnie Coleman ran his Mr. Olympia consecutive winning streak to eight, with the final win bringing him $150,000.
Ms. Olympia continued to be held – even as the sport failed to attract near the following as did Mr. Olympia. A physique competition of overly muscular females did not have the draw of a physique competition of overly muscular males.
Miss Olympia history is one of dominance by U.S. athletes who put together long winning streaks – including Corinna Everson, who won six consecutive titles, from 1984 through 1989; Lenda Murray, who also won six titles in a row, from 1990 through 1995, and consecutive titles in 2002 and 2003; and Kim Chizevsky-Nicholls, who four consecutive titles, from 1996 through 1999.
And then there was Iris Kyle. She won Miss Olympia titles in 2003 and 2004. That was just the start. From 2006 through 2014, she won every Miss Olympia. Perhaps Iris Kyle could have built on her record of 10 Ms. Olympia wins. Yet 2014 would be the final Miss Olympia.
Yet even as the Miss Olympia was discontinued and not started back up, the Joe Weider Mr. Olympia franchise expanded and grew other competitions, including in the figure and fitness categories – and then CrossFit … and then Zumba … and then …
Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend represented and encompassed more and more of the realm of fitness and sports performance.
But Mr. Olympia remains the anchor.
In 2009 and 2010, the U.S.’s Jay Cutler won his third and fourth Mr. Olympia (he also won in 2006 and 2007), with each of his final two wins earning him $200,000.
The 20011 Mr. Olympia was won by Phil “The Gift” Heath, a native of Seattle and a former shooting guard for the NCAA Div. 1 University of Denver basketball team. Heath took home $250,000. Heath made it five Mr. Olympias in a row in 2015, and won $400,000 that year, the same amount when he improved his win streak to six in 2016.
Other 2016 Mr. Olympia money winners are as follows, with place and athlete paired with the cash prize: 2.) Shawn Rhoden (U.S.) $150,000; 3.) Dexter Jackson (U.S.) $100,000; 4.) Mamdouh Elssbiay (Egypt) $55,000; 5.) William Bonac (Ghana) $45,000; 6.) Roelly Winklaar (Curacao) $35,000; 7.) Cedric McMillan (U.S.) $25,000; 8.) Dallas McCarvar (U.S.) $20,000; 9.) Josh Lenartowicz (Australia) $18,000; 10.) and Justin Compton (U.S.) $16,000.
What began as a bodybuilding competition followed by a small society of enthusiasts and physical culturalists, has become the biggest bodybuilding and fitness and active lifestyle extravaganza on the planet.
While the 2017 Mr. Olympia champion will make $250,000, not the $400,000 awarded in 2015 and 2016, total prize money across the competitions is a record $900,000.
The exposition element of the weekend continues to grow and expand rapidly across its tradeshow and all its competitions and performances.
“Teamwork is inspired with the challenge of delivering for a winning and championship organization,” said Curt DaRosa. “And Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend is a true winner and a true champion.”