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2003 Fitness Roma / Maximus Pro Report
by Alex Ardenti, April 2003

  • The Fitness Roma

    New contests and especially new bodybuilding trade shows usually have a very hard time getting off the ground. A lack of preceding successful editions make the audience and big companies leary about investing an participating. The first edition of Fitness EXPO Roma alongside the IFBB Maximus was a clear exception.

    Nearly 20,000 people flooded the expo grounds in Rome on March 28 & 29 to see their favorite champions from around the world have fun at the expo. Jay Cutler, Kim Lyons, Timea Majorova, Laurie Vanniman, Tito Raymond and Amy Fadhli were the invited guests of honor and they drove the roman Expo crowd to a frenzy! It was unusual to see the crowd at the IFBB Maximus so quiet and attentive as the contest proceeded as opposed to the audience in the hall next door that howled whenever there was an exhibition on the Expo stage.

    "Jay! Jay! Jay! Jay!" was the overwhelming chant from the Italians and Jay's charisma hit an all time high. He played with the audience, teasing them, giving a little taste and pretending to leave and actually started dancing while posing in a self mocking fashion to the roaring laughter of the fans and fellow champions as well. Calm and subdued, almost detached from the outer world in the regular Cutler way, Jay showed a side of himself that made him more human and approachable and at the same time putting his superstar status on a much higher pedestal. Jay was having fun with himself and his true personality shined through.

    In Rome, Jay was Arnold for the weekend. Always willing to stop for photos, always smiling and friendly and never complaining once about it all. Jay made the Expo, period.

    Darrem Charles was coaxed (he says tricked) into appearing on the Expo stage and taking his shirt off much to the delight to the crowd. The "Darrem! Darrem! Darrem!" chant that started the whole thing probably convinced him that the crowd wanted to see more of the Maximus champ and Darrem consented to their wishes by removing his shirt and giving a taste of his winning routine. Funny how Alex was backstage with his posing music cued just in case a spontaneous exhibition were to arise.

    The girls that were invited to show there stuff in Rome also rose to the occasion. Forever appreciative of fan response and always willing to work hard to make the show a success, these girls added glamour to the weekend.

    Kim Lyons in particular was a crowd favorite and was hounded by hungry photo-snapping fans. Her overwhelming sex appeal that was blended into an innocent "good girl" aura made Kim a unique type of beauty that the Europeans couldn't resist. She was constantly being interviewed by TV stations and newspaper reporters and forever followed by a string of fans waiting to get their picture taken with the cover girl. Kim's presence was charismatic and approachable, a huge bonus to any Expo she appears in.

    As far as company support Alex Ardenti's first show hit the ground running with 54 companies in 4 different halls plus the Maximus theatre. MetRx-Royal Numico, Muscle Marketing USA, Life Fitness-Hammer Strength, MRM, SAN, Lee Labrada, Malibu, Rich Gaspari, Indoor Rowing, Weider, Muscle Mag and Max Muscle were among the most recognizable names there plus several European companies.

    Muscle & Fitness and Flex were the main sponsors this year and have already agreed to their full partecipation in 2004 with and extensive European advertising campaign. The Alex Ardenti marketing machine was put in effect 8 months prior to the show and the Expo was being talked about as soon as the word was out.

    Alex promises to deliver an even better show next year, possibly in a different venue on March 27th and 28th . For companies who wishes to partecipate Alex can be contacted at (818) 986-9567 or at

    The IFBB Maximus Pro Invitational

    Darrem Charles simply did the unthinkable. The buzz in the audience seemed to have the crowd divided between the mass mongers that thought that Markus Ruhl, in better shape than he was at the Arnold 4 weeks earlier, would easily walk away with the 1st place statue and the supporters of proportion and aesthetics that thought Darrem Charles had the best physique onstage.

    Others thought that Dexter Jackson had a combination of both and could easily take the whole thing.

    Darrem proved to be the favorite with the judges and proved, like Ronnie and Gunter history, that anything can happen onstage. No one is going up against the supremacy of Arnold or Sergio in the 60's and 70's. The new millennium has champs that are so competitive and close even though with different bodies that you can never really predict the outcome 100% the day before the show.

    This makes things a lot more interesting and it was definitely interesting to watch the comparisons among the top 5. A completely diversified bunch and the 7 judges had the arduous task of sorting them out and placing them in position.

    Claude Groulx got his Olympia qualification since the top 3 were already qualified and Troy Alves seemed to have hit his peak for this show and laced a respectable 5th.

    Jay Cutler's guest posing routine was icing on the cake as were the brilliant routines of Lauie Vanniman, Kim Lyons and fellow sex goddess Timea Majorova.

    Dramatic lighting effects, smoke, thunder and a packed house, along with 16 great bodybuilders made the IFBB Maximus a memorable show that will come back to Rome on March 27th 2004.