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The world of science and anti-aging continues to align with the world of bodybuilding and overall fitness, a reality that will be on full display during a unique scheduling phenomenon this December in Las Vegas.
The people and companies that make up the world of bodybuilding have a mission to help build a better body and improve the quality of life for those that support it. The anti-aging movement has committed decades to helping folks maximize the quality and quantity of life by providing solutions and strategies to slow down the aging process so people live better, longer.
When Joe and Ben Weider began their fitness crusade in the 1940’s, they weren’t only thinking about building muscles and being strong in their 20’s and 30’s, they were working to create a movement that could serve people and help them enhance their fitness and wellness as they aged. It wasn’t only looking better; it was about living a better and longer life well into the later years.
Joining them for a long portion of this movement is a man that has worked to carry it forward well into the 21st century. Dr. Robert Goldman is known within fitness circles for several reasons. He’s a sixth-degree black belt, set over 20 world records for various physical feats of endurance and strength listed numerous times in the Guinness Book of World Records, he’s worked alongside the IFBB & NPC as the Chief Medical Advisor and Chairman of the IFBB/NPC Medical Committee overseeing the over 190 nations of the federation, he created the first personal trainer certification through founding the National Academy of Sports Medicina (NASM), and he’s the founder of the International Sports Hall of Fame. Goldman can also be considered the godfather of the anti-aging movement. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, a time that the phrase “anti-aging” was used as a marketing tool to promote cosmetic products, Goldman was laying the groundwork for change. Part of that groundwork included developing the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) Conference World Congresses as well as the website worldhealth.net, the second medical website in existence and the go-to source for anti-aging and life extension information.
“The American Medical Association beat us online by 30 days,” Goldman said. “We have decades and tens of thousands of medical articles and even videos by Nobel laureates whom have lectured over the past 30 years. Many of them have since died, and that massive archive of information for consumption. People can self-educate, print these articles, then go to their doctors about whatever their concern is.”
Many people in the anti-aging community look at Goldman the same way that many longtime bodybuilding fans see Joe Weider. In what is the first of several common threads between the two industries, Goldman credits that success to his background working under the tutelage of the Weiders.
“Bodybuilding actually had a part in that because it came from me serving under Ben and Joe. I got introduced to many Ministers of Health and Ministers of Sport in numerous countries. Bodybuilding gave me the wherewithal to form national and international governing bodies. So, what they were doing for bodybuilding, I was doing by setting up anti-aging conferences around the world.”
The first A4M conference was held in 1992 with 12 doctors getting involved – a far cry from the over 100 that are expected to speak and over 6,000 expected at the 30th Annual World Congress on Antiaging & Regenerative Medicine. Goldman described the mission as “teaching the teachers.” The doctors and experts that come in give their lectures to the doctors that will go home and serve their patients directly with the goal of promoting natural and healthy solutions that could serve as life extension. A4M has held multiple conferences around the world every year, having trained over 150,000 doctors to better serve their patients.
Just like the Weider brothers had to face challenges throughout their journey in fitness, Goldman & his A4M Co—Founder, Dr. Ronald Klatz, and their allies had to face obstacles created both outside and inside the medical community. As far as the establishment at the time was concerned, this movement should have never happened to begin with.
“The goal was to destroy it, not unlike what the fitness industry went through when gyms were being told to close, and they as the old-world medical establishment were trying to stunt the growth of the sports nutrition industry,” he suggested. “They would rather have people taking prescription drugs instead of focusing on exercise, nutrition, and other natural solutions. The goal was to diminish and shut down natural forms of medicine such as homeopathy, wholistic nutrition, etc. They wanted to destroy that.”
Goldman said that the doctors and advocates for anti-aging were fighting an uphill battle in the early years because of hypocrisy and greed and control. They would even go as far as offer support to advertisers and the media that would be considered counterproductive.
“Believe it or not, the goal was to also support cigarette companies. There would even be full page ads in the medical journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association with doctors smoking cigarettes. This is similar to when research was coming out showing that a healthy diet and exercise could diminish the risk of heart disease in the 1960’s. They were shutting down gyms in California, and they even went after the Weiders at that time.”
Dr. Klatz was one of Goldman’s allies in the beginning, and he’s as involved now as he’s ever been. He recalled how the movement originally started in 1991, while they were both working in sports medicine.
“We had come to a barrier that was beyond elite sports nutrition, and that was long-term healthcare. It wasn’t just about improving performance for your sport, but it was about improving performance in later years, and ultimately, your lifespan,” he said. “It required a change in the paradigm of healthcare because healthcare wasn’t healthcare back then. It was disease maintenance. The established belief of medicine at the time was that aging was inevitable, and nothing can be done about it.”
In spite of the challenges and struggles they faced from opposition year in and year out, the A4M and their movement has not only survived – they have thrived. According to Goldman, the anti-aging industry is now a $260 billion (yes, with a b) movement, and it’s growing at a rapid pace. The 2022 A4M conference will be their 30th anniversary. They are now the biggest event for the healthcare, medical, and wellness professionals in the field. For the medical and anti-aging movement, A4M has become appointment traveling.
“We have over 100 world-class people speaking at our conference, and these people could book their own seminars alone and people would pay to come see just one of them. Now consider that there are dozens and dozens of sessions that they can choose from every day.”
Dr. Klatz agrees with Goldman, and he feels that if there was ever a year to attend a conference of this magnitude, the 2022 conference is it.
“We’re really living in unprecedented times with regard to Covid, even long Covid, and long-term health challenges,” said Klatz. “A lot of people are feeling them, and a lot more are going to be feeling them. So, the more you’re involved in healthcare, and the more you focus on your metabolism and your future health, the greater chance you have of survival.”
Similarly, the marquee brand for the world of bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts is the Joe Weider Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend. The movement that began with Larry Scott being crowned the first Mr. Olympia in 1965 has also become a billion-dollar movement. Olympia owner Jake Wood and president Dan Solomon will lead their team and host the Olympia in Las Vegas for the first time since 2019. Fans from across the globe gather to get a taste of the industry they love and watch the champions they admire compete for glory and legacy. Wood and Solomon are carrying the mission that the Weiders created so a whole new generation can focus on fitness and enhance their quality of life. Goldman expressed appreciation for their efforts. He hopes that the people that attend A4M will notice as well.
“Under the leadership of Jake and Dan and their ancillary partners, we can open up a whole new world that would be beneficial to both communities with a more synergistic, positive outcome.”
Both A4M and the Olympia have their differences, but their missions are quite similar – help people live longer and better. These two powerhouse events have been making their own differences and seen tremendous success over the years. However, 2022 will mark a transformational year because it will be the first time that both the A4M and the Olympia will be held on back-to-back weekends in the same venue.
Olympia President Dan Solomon adds, “The opportunity to attend the A4M Conference and the Olympia in back-to-back weekends will be a powerful experience. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will leave Las Vegas with enough inspiration and education to fuel an entire year of transformational education and inspiration.”
The Olympia will be taking place in Las Vegas on the weekend of December 15th through 18th. One week before that, the A4M conference will be held from December 8th through 11th. Coincidentally, both events will even be in the same building – the Venetian Resort. The A4M conference will cover over 500,000 square feet and feature world-class speakers offer their guidance that can provide value to the listeners long after they go home and a massive Expo of hundreds of medical health companies. Sports legends and Hollywood movie stars have attended A4M and express wishes to return. In Goldman’s opinion, Olympia fans would be well served booking that flight and hotel one week in advance and attend A4M.
“The exhibits will feature booths that focus more on anti-aging and longevity. The companies that will be there would greatly benefit fitness minded people,” he shared. “More importantly, there will be thousands of doctors from anywhere from 30 to 60 countries to present and learn from each other. It will be unlike any educational opportunity they have ever experienced.”
This is very important because experts and insiders on both sides of the fence have expressed concerns about athletes experiencing health issues, or worse, at a young age. The people that are interested in the Olympia could benefit from learning more and applying strategies that they can hear about directly from doctors that they otherwise may not get to speak with, so they can learn and apply information they otherwise may not get. As far as Goldman is concerned, this is a great opportunity to potentially save lives.
“You know the challenges we’ve had in bodybuilding and other communities, with athletes not faring well, health wise – some even dying. So, it’s time for us to circle the wagons and utilize the medical technology and information that is available to protect the community.”
The two events being so close together can serve as a landmark opportunity for businesses that considers health and fitness a priority as well. Doctors and trainers and gym owners can discuss how to join forces with the goal of serving clients and patients in a coordinated fashion. In Goldman’s eyes, this is a rare moment that needs to be taken advantage of. It should also be a call to action.
“This is a historical situation with both of these world class events being in the same city, same venue, and even the same exhibit hall,” said Goldman. “These are different, intertwining industries, and it is now time for them to cooperate with each other. Trainers can interface with doctors, and doctors can talk to people that run the gyms and spas, which could help improve career opportunities and create a synergy.”
One of those trainers that sees the opportunity available is Rob Fletcher, founder of America’s Next Great Trainer. Fletcher and Goldman had worked together for years with hopes of having trainers and physicians work side by side.
“This is a huge step for all. For years Dr, Bob and I had conversations about bringing the worlds together – bodybuilding, sports, health, fitness, and anti-aging. There is tremendous value and benefits on so many levels,” Fletcher said. “It is the ultimate strategic partnership or marriage – bringing physicians, athletes, trainers, and gym owners together to educate and raise awareness for optimal health and performance.”
Because of his background in bodybuilding, Goldman and the team that run A4M understands how they can benefit from the Olympia as well. He suggested that the exhibitors that present at their conference should consider hanging around for another weekend to reach a new massive market of consumers they may not be able to reach otherwise.
“If I was a doctor and I wanted to integrate sports medicine, health related patients of all ages, and not (even) only competitors but 60-70% of the people there or more don’t compete. Right in front of them would be tens of thousands of potential patients at the Olympia. They will be rolling around Las Vegas that weekend like these world-class doctors will at A4M,” he noted. “Why not stay around an extra few days and have my services offered to a whole new consumer base?”
Likewise, thousands of people will gather in Las Vegas for the Olympia, and many of them may have questions about their own health and wellness situations. This has never been truer than two years after the onset of the pandemic. What better place could they learn more about what to do and how to do it than the place where the best minds in medicine will gather as well? Goldman is extending the olive branch and wants to invite his fellow fitness community members to join him.
“They will learn more at this year’s A4M conference than if you were to go to 20 other conferences. The doctors at A4M hope they will come because they would like to meet these potential patients and offer their services.”