The Arnold Sports Festival is one of the most popular fitness shows of the year. The brainchild of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the event hosts a host of sports, strength contests and other events. And among all the arm wrestling, MMA fights and strongman exploits, there is the Arnold Classic, a bodybuilding competition that is arguably second only to the Mr. Olympia show in terms of prestige.
[Related: Every Winner of the Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Contest]
On August 16, 2023, the official Arnold Sports Festival Instagram page posted ticket information for next year’s event. The organization also released a list of the seven bodybuilding divisions that will vie for supremacy at the Classic, including:
- Arnold’s Classic (Men’s Omnium)
- classical physics
- male physique
- The well-being
- Professional wheelchair
There’s a lot at stake for competitors in the Arnold Classic in 2023: Not only does a victory qualify a competitor for that year’s Olympia, but in 2022 nearly $800,000 in prize money has been awarded in the different divisions of the event. Of that money, $200,000 went to Brandon Curry, who won first place at the Arnold Classic.
Divisions excluded from the Arnold Classic 2023
There are four professional leagues of the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) divisions absent from the Arnold Classic 2023 line up: 212, Female Physique, Female Bodybuilding, and International figure.
The 212 division was only featured at the Arnold from 2014 to 2018, while women’s bodybuilding – known as the Ms. International competition – took place at the event from 1989 to 2013.
Women’s Physique was also a staple of the event from 2015 to 2020, but it hasn’t been on the program since. His repeated absence does not please his competitor Sarah Villegas, double winner of the Olympia in women’s physics.
[Related: Every Winner of the Arnold Classic South America Bodybuilding Show]
Villegas took to Instagram to break the news:
“Women’s physique is bigger than a show, much bigger,” Villegas wrote. “And that’s what the Arnold Classic has become for me, just a show. Women’s physique is one of the biggest events on the Olympia stage and is now at the IFBB Pro League’s main show, The Pittsburgh Pro.
Legendary female bodybuilder and 10-time Ms. Olympia winner Iris Kyle shared her support for Villegas, commenting on the post:
“Women should have the same privileges as our men [counterparts.] This absolutely [saddens] me to see that women do NOT have the SAME opportunity to practice their profession.
The Figure International division — which was at the show almost every year since 2002aside from the COVID-shortened 2021 edition – is another notable omission in 2023.
Brian Powers, the executive director of the Arnold Sports Festival, explained the decision in a statement to Bar Bend:
“We look at all the sports we have, including bodybuilding, every year, and we analyze whether we can accommodate a competitive field or not. Based on our annual analysis of all divisions, we did not feel able to host a World Tricks Championship, which we are in the process of doing. We may be able to come back and do it again next year, depending on the depth of the peloton. We feel like we don’t have that depth this year. We will go back and we will come back in 2024.
We are making a major addition[s] women’s professional sports in other sports to be announced soon.
When is the Arnold Classic?
The 2023 Arnold Sports Festival will take place March 2-5, 2023 in Columbus, OH. here is the program Released so far for Arnold Classic bodybuilding events:
Friday, March 3, 2023
- Fitness International Prejudging (12:30-2:30 p.m.)
- Prejudging classical physics (12:30-2:30 p.m.)
- International Fitness Finals (7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.)
- Classic Physical Final (7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.)
- Arnold Classic Pre-Judgment (7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.)
Saturday, March 4, 2023
- Male physical pre-judgment (10h-12h)
- Bikini International Prejudice (10h-12h)
- Wellness International Prejudging (10h-12h)
- Wheelchair Pro Bias and Finals (12 p.m.-1 p.m.)
- Men’s physics, finals (7pm-10pm)
- International Bikini Finals (7pm-10pm)
- International Wellness Finals (7pm-10pm)
- Arnold’s classic finale (7pm-10pm)
Additional reporting by Roger Lockridge.
Featured Image: @arnoldsports on Instagram | Photo by @profitnessphotos on Instagram