If you're going to attend one expo in the bodybuilding/fitness industry, your best bet is to make it the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. The weather may not be the best (first weekend in March in the U.S. midwest), but the experience overall makes it worth it. But don't bring an empty suitcase with you to bring back a bunch of sample supplements and T-shirts.

As the years have gone by, the booths have been handing out less and less goodies trying to get the recipients to purchase a full bottle or can of whatever supplement they are hawking. You'll still get that shot glass of pre-workout, but forget about being handed a full protein bar. Not even close; they cut them up into little slices that literally melt in your hand at times.

It was a common site to see people leaving the Arnold Expo with one or more large plastic bags stuffed with free products from the throngs of booths throughout the hall. Aisle after aisle contained booths (some as large as the majority of the entire aisle) that were being manned by IFBB pros, gorgeous women wearing matching outfits and the company owners smiling proudly while watching long lines of people waiting to meet their sponsored athlete, put down their email address and receive a bunch of samples.

Well, you still have to wait on line if you want to meet and take a photo with that particular athlete - even longer than before, mind you - and you'll still be on their mailing list. But you're lucky if you get one packet of protein powder for your trouble.

The bottom line is just that - it costs too much money to make up hundreds of samples, print up dozens of shirts and hire all the people to work there. And it would be a case-by-case basis if these supplement companies are selling any full size versions of the supplements they used to hand out eagerly.

Sure, it's still a great experience and you'll have some nice eye candy to look at. And you'll grab a few one-shot samples and maybe a shirt. But it's become more of a show and tell than a snake oil salesman pitch.

By Joe Pietaro for musclemecca bodybuilding forums

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