April this year we went to The BodyPower Expo at the NEC in Birmingham UK. We set out the day before as we had to travel from Wales to Wolverhampton and then sleep in Wolverhampton so we could get our family to look after the children for the day. After a bit of stress in the morning with sorting the children out, all went went well.
We got to the Expo and parked up very quickly as we had reserved a special pass that allowed us to jump the car queue as well as park right near the venue. The main reason we wanted to go to BodyPower was to meet the BodyCoaches team, Dorian Yates, Andrew Coulson, Kevin Levrone, Phil Heath, Carla Curva, Gal Yates, Lewis Yates and then the others who we were unfamiliar with at the time of going.
When we got to the venue, there was a long queue that seemed like it would take forever to get through. After 15 minutes or so, we were in the main arena. Armed with our camera and a map, we headed straight off on the hunt for the BodyCoaches stand. We first recognised Andrew Coulson at the stand and we obviously had no idea of how he was going to acknowledge us or if he would even speak to us.
Andrew looked at us and instantly made us feel welcome. After a quick man hug and a few hello’s he gave us a few bags of Protein Bites to try, let’s just say that we are a massive fan of these healthy crisp alternatives! After having a great chat with Andrew we said hello to Carla Curva. Carla is Dorian Yates personal assistant and she is an absolutely fantastic person. She greeted us with open arms right from the beginning and told us that if we wanted anything just ask her and she will do her best to help us. She made us feel like good friends all day long and did everything she could for us. Including getting us to meet the athletes, getting signatures, talking about our family and generally making us feel part of the team. She said she recognised us from facebook which was also great as they have a lot of other fans posting pictures on there daily.
As Dorian wasn’t at the Expo when we got there, Carla told us to come back in a hour or so and she will make sure we get to see him. Off we went for a walk around the venue where we saw so many great athletes and inspirations that it was just impossible to comprehend at the time. After a quick look around the venue we went back to the BodyCoaches stand where we could finally see our idol, Dorian Yates. Rather than being cheeky and asking Carla to push in, we went around to see Kevin Levrone where we had a little talk and he signed our book for us. It was a truly honourable experience meeting Kevin!
To cut a long story short…
Dorian was greeting and signing a long queue of his fans pictures etc. I was in the queue and for some reason he looked up and saw me, he made instant eye contact with me and put his thumb up and winked. He instantly stopped the signings and called me to the stand where all the athletes were. Straight away he commented on my top and said he recognised me from facebook. He then signed my top! I was shaking like a leaf and found it hard to stop shaking because I was finally meeting my idol.
I then pulled out my Blood and Guts book which he was very impressed with and he said that they are rare, out of publication and fetching around £140 on ebay. He signed it to me saying ‘To George, train hard! Dorian Yates Mr O’. We had a little chat, took some pics and it was just very special. People in the queue recognised the book and had a little wow factor too.
I told him I felt a little intimidated to meet him as he is my idol and someone I look up to in every way. I soon felt comfortable with him though and I now have a memory that I can take to my grave with me.
This was one of the greatest moments of my life. He treated me special and I felt special. Just thinking about it overwhelms me with joy! He also signed loads more for me and the wife.I also had a photo with his wife, Gal Yates, and shook his sons hand, Lewis Yates. I can’t express the joy I felt!
We later got talking to Amber Moore who is a fantastic lady, mother and another great member to the BodyCoaches team. We got talking about all sorts of things such as family, aims, inspiration and some personal things were shared too. Amber was actually the first member we saw, although we weren’t familiar with her at the time, but again Amber recognised us from Facebook.
We carried on around the venue looking for the other BodyCoach members such as Ronnie Coleman, Louise Rogers and some other great athletes from the Activlab team. Andrew Torres, Lu Del Giudice, Katherine Pepper, Keatan Pangli. On the way to the stand we stumbled across a guy called Noel Gordon who was on the Muscle Barbie stand. This guy was an incredible chap! I ended up having a great chat with him and he also made me feel very welcome and gave me a massive amount of inspiration to take away with me. As soon as I got home I went on a mission to find him as I couldn’t remember his name at the time. We also got to see Imma DaLleshi, although It was crazy busy and couldn’t get chance to say hello to her.
We eventually got to the Activlab stand and met up with Andrew, Lu and Keatan. (I’m pretty sure Katherine was there, although we were a little star struck at the time and couldn’t see to straight) It was a great honour to meet the gang, especially Andy. I feel that I have got a little closer to Andrew over the period we have been speaking and now I respect him as a friend rather than just some random athlete. Lu was fantastic with us too, she kept throwing us freebies and was just a bundle of joy to have there. Keatan is the main man behind Activlab and he again made us feel welcome and comfortable. Another cracking team to deal with!
Off we went on a mission to find Ronnie Coleman. The queue to meet him was 4 hours long at the time, although we were told early morning that we could beat the queue as he should have been there earlier for the VIP’s. We only had to wait a few minutes before we were shaking hands and having pictures taken. He asked me and the wife to have a picture together but I told him we didn’t have anyone to take the picture. He just looked behind me and told me that there is a queue behind, ask them. I did ask them and we had our picture taken together with Ronnie!
As we were already in the stand, the wife told me to have my picture taken with Shawn Rhoden. I said no as he was busy. After a few moments we decided we only had one chance and went for it. I had my picture taken with him and he signed my book with a great comment ‘To George and Heather, The best is yet to come. DREAM BIG’. Again, another fantastic and touching experience.
We managed to meet a ton of other athletes whilst walking around. I managed to have my photo taken with Žydrūnas Savickas, we saw many other Strong Men and many other athletes, although I didn’t get to meet them personally.
We went to the Super Gym to see what was going on and Shawn Ray was there introducing the athletes etc. As we were leaving, I saw him sitting on the front and I had a split second to decide whether I was to miss my chance to shake his hand or take the chance. I decided to take the chance and I’m so glad I did!
We made our way back to the BodyCoaches stand for the fifth time and Phil Heath was there. As the time was getting on, we asked Carla if we could quickly see Phil before we left. She got us to jump the queue and meet Phil! I had my photo took with Phil and again, I owe Carla for doing this for me!
Just before we left we went in the Super Gym to see Kai Greene and then the wife wanted to have her hoodie signed by Dorian, as he was the only one who hadn’t signed it yet. But unfortunately he wasn’t there so we went back to the car to have something to eat and then again decided to try and see Dorian again (the last time) to get the hoodie signed. We was hesitant to go again as we had already been there a few times already and didn’t want to get in their way. But there was Dorian and Carla got him to sign the Hoodie. Dorian said he should write, ‘I love Dorian’ on the back, which made us all giggle. A nice little moment, to finish the perfect experience we both had. We got to see him and hear him talk for a short while before we headed back to Wolverhampton to pick our three children up and then back to Wales where we live. BodyPower 2013 was an incredible time for us. Not only did we finally have some time away from the children, but we also had an experience that exceeded what we dreamt of.
We will be going to BodyPower 2014, but we will make it more casual and take the children with us. I would love to give my children an opportunity to meet and gain knowledge of fitness and health from the people we look up to.
We also got to try out some Protein Bread that is absolutely brilliant! We have this regularly now and I can’t see us going back to the Burgen bread any time soon either. One other fantastic food we stumbled across was NutriPak. I had one of these and I thought it was absolutely delicious. (I have just ordered six pots, so stay tuned for my tasting opinion on those)
One of the best experiences of our life…