The internet can be a funny place. For about 2 years now I’ve been emailing and texting with Brian Cannone, a trainer, author and event promoter from New Haven, CT. Since we’re not that too far geographically away from each other, we’ve developed a pretty good relationship. I got to meet Brian for the first time in person at the Arnold Classic this past May. With his fantastic bodybuilding, figure, fitness and bikini event, the Fitness Atlantic just a few days away, I thought it would be great to get a inside look at what it takes to set up and run a popular fitness contest.
Q:So this is a big year for the Fitness Atlantic. You’re now a qualifier for the WBFF pro division. How has that helped the show?
A: This question is one that gets me going because most contestants like federations and I never understood that – people get so caught up into that. Why is it people always put so much behind the federation? As a show promoter for 11 years with Fitness Atlantic and six years with Mr./Ms. Connecticut first question athletes always have is which federation.
Here is the thing regardless what federation you have a different person running each show so you have a different type event for each show you go to. Some people say Brian’s show – I call a show in NY Matt’s show, and my other friend Rob’s show – certain promoters run good shows and some run great shows.
And the same is true with WBFF it’s Paul’s show. I talk to Paul Dillett who is a IFBB Pro bodybuilder and has been top 5 in the Olympia. As a former professional athlete he feels the same frustrations that I do – many federations look at the athletes like customers and how do they make more money off of them.
When you have the athlete’s best interest at heart it’s a different approach – it is the approach I have taken since running my very first show.
Paul brings fresh ideas with the WBFF – an innovative show website, social media marketing, an online fitness magazine, swag goodie bags worth three times the price of entering the show, cash prizes, endorsement contracts with supplement companies, and real help getting magazine cover exposure for athletes.
So Paul has helped me improve my show which is important to me and the athletes will see that – but it hasn’t helped me gain more athletes as it is a new federation and people don’t know what it is locally. It’s innovative, new and fresh and going to set the standard of what athlete’s can expect from entering a show to another level. It’s everything I preached for years – not a controlling system and company that makes money for one guy who pulls all the strings with politics but ways to make shows better for the athletes.
Paul has a passion for taking these events and it fires me up to just take my show (which was already good) and bring it to another level.
We are already talking about next year and where this can go which is exciting for everyone involved.
Q:What classes of competitors do you have this year?
A: Classes and Divisions include – Bikini, Figure, Model (Men and Women), Fitness and Bodybuilding. Bikini has 3 open height classes and the over 35 years. Figure has 3 height classes and Bodybuilding has 6 open men classes, 2 novice, junior men under 23, and women. (111 trophies get passed out)
Q: I know a lot of people compete just to be seen. You’ve done a good job of getting some pretty good photographers on board. Who’s coming?
A:My official photographer is Todd Ganci who has been with me for years now and I have 8 others I’m working with who are local and they are providing shoot discounts and prizes for the contestants. I realize bringing in “name” photographers to a show can be an athlete draw as they want to meet these people to get into fitness magazines and I may actually do that but honestly the magazine photographers usually don’t go to shows. Magazine photographers don’t do show reports and coverage stuff – they are hired to shoot certain looks based on articles or covers – for example Morris Mendez started off getting into magazines because I sent his images to a certain photographer who then passed it along to a publisher – they really don’t care which shows you have done – it’s all about your look – now second question people need to ask themselves is if they make a cover what is next? People get exposure from covers but don’t get big money so what are you going to do with the exposure? Do you train people, fitness coach, book author, DVD creator, how do you turn it into a career?
People in these shows love bragging rights – but I found they need better direction – think about big picture – the cover is not the end-all it’s the beginning.
Q: Now I know a ton of “natural” organizations that only drug test a few competitors. What’s your policy?
A:I actually like the lie detector and I’m a fan of the polygraph because you can go way back for years with your questions but the athletes don’t think it’s a good test. I started using just urine testing in 2004 and the athletes love it – I test every athlete in bodybuilding and send out 9 class winners and 15 random – at $130 a test that’s a lot of money put into it. Plus you have to do it right for it to count – I hire nurses and cut off the water in the bathroom – and use the proper chain of custody.
I’ve been to shows and seen people do the test backstage like it’s nothing “here is your cup go pee” – you can’t do that. You have to do this the right way.
Some shows claim to have the best testing and fly through polygraph tests in 5 minutes each at $40 a test. You can’t do that either as a lie detector fail is about an hour to do it right. I count the athletes and say to myself wow that polygraph guy made more than the show promoter – 120 tests times $40 ($4800 for a days work for 5 minute tests sign me up). I want that guy’s job. On top of that they test the girls too – bikini girls doing drug tests? Why
It doesn’t get any more real than what I do – and I’m up front about the process and can explain why. It is expensive to do and should not be a money maker.
Q:What are the competitors getting in their good bags?
A:You mean – “Swag Bags” that is what they call the bags at celebrity events. I have so many boxes and I get excited as more show up – NGRx, VPX, Gaspari, MD Muscular Development, Status Magazine, Pro Bodybuilding – Discount Supplements, Max Muscle, at least 30 companies involved. The bag should be worth 3 times the price of entering – super excited about hanging them out.
Q:Where can we find more information or purchase tickets?
Check out the website: http://www.fitnessatlantic.com
Thanks and See You There!
Tags: 11 Years, Arnold Classic, Best Interest, Bikini Fitness, Bodybuilder, Cannone, Event Promoter, Fitness Bikini, Fitness Magazine, Frustrations, Funny Place, Good Relationship, Goodie Bags, Mr Ms, New Haven Ct, Paul Dillett, Professional Athlete, Promoters, S Paul, Wbff