A few of the bodybuilders expected to compete in Long Beach.

A fitness expo with everything from professional body-building contests — Including Mr. and Ms. Olympia winners — to arm wrestling and roller derby will take over the Long Beach Convention Center this weekend.

The new Legion Sports Fest will be the biggest event of its kind in the country, according to founder Chris Minnes. There will be more than 175 body builders competing in six categories for trophies and the chance to qualify for the 2019 Mr. Olympia contest.

Perhaps more impressive, there will be seven other sanctioned contests in different genres. And as many as 200 vendors will be part of the expo to help people who aspire to be more fit.

"I think everybody wants a six-pack," Minnes said about the attraction of body building. "People see these athletes, and it starts them down that path… There's something for everyone, from crossfit to power lifting. The headliner will be the pro body building shows, but there will be a whole lot more."

Minnes's firm, Center Podium Productions, is the overall promoter and is responsible for the IFBB Pro Competition. Minnes started promoting body building in Lake Tahoe, which now is a regular stop on the circuit, he said.

"We started in Tahoe and saw how well the event fit with a tourist destination," Minnes said. "Long Beach just has everything. You can walk to the Convention Center from your hotel. Then you have the whole Southern California vibe, where people are in bikinis all year long. I can't think of a better set-up."

Legion Sports Fest is organized around the superhero concept — body builders and others have released their inner superhero, and can show others how to do it too. That's why there will be seminars, exhibits and contests that all attendees can participate in.

Other promoted contests include functional fitness (Crossfit) in Fallout by Battleground Events, the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Open, a pro/am USAA arm wrestling contest, an America's Strongest Man and Women contest, a Roller Derby Tournament (flat track) by Bad Fish Roller Derby, USPA Powerlifting and the Oksana Grishina Pole Fitness Classic. The IFBB Pro Body building divisions include Bikini, Bodybuilding 212, Figure, Women’s Physique, Men’s Physique, Classic Physique and Fitness.

There also will be a group of at least six Olympians — winners of Mr. and Ms. Olympia titles in various categories. They will be talking to attendees, signing autographs and more.

Doors open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday for VIP and Premier ticket holders, and at 9:30 a.m. for the general public. Tickets range from $29.99 to $109.49. To buy tickets and for a full schedule of events, go to

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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