COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Arnold Sports Festival’s Fitness EXPO opened to thousands of visitors and athletes on Friday.
The EXPO includes approximately 1,000 booths, including one with a long-standing history.
“We’ve been here 29 years,” explained Maria Nowak. “We make jackets for the Arnold Sports Festival.”
Many years ago, Tony Nowak, Maria’s late husband, met Arnold Schwarzenegger at the gym.
They were both immigrants, and their friendship immediately blossomed.
“He was a good friend to Arnold, and Arnold was a good friend to him,” she explained.
As a result of the friendship, Schwarzenegger turned to his pal to make the official jackets for the original Arnold Classic in 1989.
Since then, the Nowaks have supplied the jackets to athletes, performers and staff of the event.
Tony Nowak passed away in 2010, however Maria continues to operate the family booth in his memory.
“It’s an honor and privilege to do it for the performers, for the Arnold and most importantly, in my husband’s name,” she said.
She also said she hopes her son, who is attending this year’s festival for the second year in a row, continues what Tony started.
“You can feel my father is here,” said Enzo Nowak. “His legacy continues and you can really feel his spirit.”
The Nowaks’ booth is located near the main stage of the EXPO center, in aisle 1500.
This is also the first year for the body painting competition at The Arnold.