Get to the expo!

Personal trainer Leanne Gifford, of Smithton, shook hands with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the three-day Arnold Classic Australia event (March 18-20) while also listening to body builders speak about their tribulations and triumphs in the sport.

Celebrity. Smithton personal trainer Leanne Gifford can now proudly say she’s met Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, posing with the body building great at the Arnold Classic Australia in Melbourne recently.

The three-day event is held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and is said to be the country’s largest sport and fitness expo.

Among other highlights, it is where the Arnold Strongman Classic and prejudging for the Pro Bikini International, Pro Figure International and Pro Fitness International competitions are hosted.

Accompanied by a friend from her home country of New Zealand, and local client Mason Chatwin, Leanne said she ‘splashed out’ on Platinum VIP tickets to be able to meet Arnie.

The ticket also granted her preferential seating and entry into the expo as well as an opportunity for a photo with the winners of the Pro classes.

“I went to see the best body builders in the world compete in the Pro show and also check out all the various exhibitors at the expo,” she said.

Throughout the expo, seminars were held by big names in the body building world: Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Dana Linn Bailey and Kai Greene to name a few.

“Shaking hands with Arnold was hard to beat,” Leanne says of the weekend’s most memorable moment, “but sitting in the front row for the Dana Linn Bailey seminar was a real buzz – she’s a real idol of mine. I’ve got to thank Mason for being first in the queue for that!”

Fifteen-year-old Mason, who is part of a junior development group Leanne has been training since last football season, said the experience was “a good eye-opener”.

“It was wicked . . . It really got me motivated seeing all those people, everyday people walking around. Fit people are happy people, it’s just the way it is.”

He said he already takes his football and fitness “pretty seriously” but is ready to step it up a notch.

“It just keeps me happy and motivated in life in general,” he said.

“[The expo] really made me focus on what I want to do more in life, how I want to take my football further.”

While finding all the seminars insightful, Leanne said hearing such sportspeople speak about how they came to be where they are was particularly interesting as they shared their struggles and offered ‘pearls of wisdom’.

The best, she says, was the reiteration of eating right.

“You’re wasting your time in the gym if you have a poor diet,” Leanne said. “Nothing new there, but good to have the importance of diet emphasised.”

Throughout the expo, she hoped to “see if there’s anything that I could use to add to my business, help my clients or help me achieve my goals”.

This is the second year the event has been run and the second time Leanne has gone along.

As for next year’s expo? She’ll be back.

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