Animal Brings the CAGE Back: Jason Budsock & Rudy Checo

Animal Brings the CAGE Back: Jason Budsock & Rudy Checo

Every year, the who’s who in the supplement industry make the pilgrimage to the famous Arnold Expo. It’s a hectic, buzzing environment that showcases all the industry has to offer for the year, and brands use it as an opportunity to commingle with industry leaders, athletes, and consumers.

The Cage is Back, Baby!

Animal Cage at the 2024 Arnold on the PricePlow Podcast

Animal brings THE CAGE Back to The Arnold Expo, and Mike and Ben record a podcast with Jason Budsock and Rudy Checo to celebrate the start of the weekend.

One element that has been sorely missed for the last several years was the Animal Cage, which we talked about with Jason Budsock from Animal on Episode #80 of the PricePlow Podcast.

Well, the folks at Animal heard the people loud and clear. As we discussed in our article titled “Animal is Bringing THE CAGE Back for the 2024 Arnold Expo“, the famous booth has made a triumphant return after being bent since 2019.

We can say with resounding confidence that the return of the Cage was the highlight of the event, and we had the opportunity to sit down with Jason at the main event.

Let’s get into the fun:

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Video: Animal Returns The Cage Back to the Arnold

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Detailed Show Notes: Mike and Ben From the Cage

  • 0:00 – Welcome back Animal Cage!

    Ringside at the 2024 Arnold Classic, hosts Ben and Mike sit down with Jason Budsock to enthusiastically discuss the return of the “Animal Cage” for the first time since 2019. The Cage’s comeback is highlighted as a significant and much-missed part of the event, underscoring its role in creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.

    The Animal CAGE is Returning to the Arnold Expo in 2024!

    The Animal CAGE has returned to the Arnold Expo!

    Despite the challenges of reintegrating such a dynamic feature, including logistical hurdles and the financial implications of allocating prime event space without direct product sales, the effort to bring back the Cage is portrayed as a labor of love for the community and the brand. They touch upon the changing dynamics of event participation for companies, noting a shift from direct sales to creating experiences and engagement through live streaming and motivational content.

  • 5:45 – Evolution of the Cage

    Mike highlights the significance of creating experiences for people who resonate with the brand, suggesting that product promotion can naturally follow from these shared experiences. He recalls a LinkedIn post where he publicly called for the return of the Cage, underlining the engagement and community response that followed.

    The discussion further delves into the evolution of the Cage, noting how it has adapted to include new and emerging athletes alongside veterans, thus modernizing its appeal. Jason and Ben discuss the inclusive nature of the Cage as an exhibition space rather than a competition, allowing athletes to perform unique or unconventional lifts without the pressure of traditional contests.

  • 9:00 – Athlete Partnerships

    Ben gives a personal anecdote about Rob Hall, an athlete who values the legacy and equipment associated with the event, underscoring the deep connection between the athletes and the brand. Jason highlights the importance of adapting and collaborating with contemporary companies and influencers to stay relevant and engaged with the current fitness culture.

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    The conversation touches on the efforts made to recruit athletes and establish partnerships, with special recognition given to the team behind the scenes for their role in scouting talent across various platforms. Jason acknowledges the challenge of appealing to a new generation while staying true to the core values of hard work and grit that define the animal brand, suggesting a strategic balance between honoring tradition and embracing innovation.

  • 13:00 – Generational Shifts

    The group discusses how generational shifts influence gym culture, with a nod to the importance of role models like Gary Turner and their straightforward, no-nonsense approach to training. Jason mentions Rogue’s collaboration in outfitting the Cage and emphasizes the logistical benefits of local partnerships.

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    The conversation shifts to the excitement and engagement the Cage generates among attendees and online viewers, highlighting the impact of social media tags and streams in amplifying the event’s reach. Additionally, they touch on product updates, specifically the rebranding of their Fury pre-workout, and the importance of maintaining product integrity, as exemplified by a discussion on creatine stability in products.

  • 17:30 – Creatine Tablets

    Universal Nutrition Animal Creatine Chews

    Animal Creatine Chews bring a fun and simple way to get creatine in – and they’ve got us hooked!

    Ben, Mike, and Jason discuss the production and innovation behind Animal’s Creatine Chews (chewable tablets). Jason explains that these tablets were already being manufactured under the Universal brand but were specifically rebranded and reformulated for the Animal brand to cater to strength trainers. The new formula includes flavor technology enhancements and is infused with AstraGin for better absorption, alongside the addition of Himalayan sea salt to improve the product’s efficacy. Mike notes the improved chewability of the new lemon ice flavor, suggesting adjustments in the tablet press might have contributed to this change. Jason confirms the intention to refine the product’s texture for better consumer experience.

    The discussion briefly touches on the stability and reliability of chewable tablets versus creatine gummies, highlighting the importance of lab testing for product integrity. They also mention the launch of the Animal Clear Whey protein product by Animal, noting its positive reception and the potential for clear protein products during the warmer seasons.

  • 20:45 – Massive Squats

    Ben shares his perspective on the immense challenge of squatting 600 pounds, relating it to Mark Bell’s experience of feeling his bones resettle when squatting 1200 pounds. They joke about the intense preparation that goes into such lifts, including the use of energy drinks and the atmosphere leading up to the performances.

    Jason Budsock Animal / Universal Nutrition

    Unofficial holder of the “World record cement deadlift”, it’s Jason Budsock, VP of Products at Animal / UniversalUSA, who joins us for Episode #080 of the PricePlow Podcast!

    The discussion then shifts towards their experience at the expo, expressing a preference for conducting business meetings in a more relaxed bar setting rather than the hectic expo floor. Despite this, Ben acknowledges the undeniable attraction of the animal Cage as a highlight of the expo, something not to be missed regardless of their general aversion to the expo environment.

  • 24:45 – Rudy Joins!

    Rudy Checo joins the stage to discuss his integral role in bringing back the Animal Cage, emphasizing its significance for both the fans and the fitness community. Rudy shares his deep personal connection with the company, detailing his journey from childhood exposure to the brand, through family ties, to his current position directing the Cage. This event, for him, is more than just a job; it’s a continuation of his family’s legacy within the fitness industry.

    The discussion highlights the efforts made to ensure the Cage’s return was impactful, focusing on community engagement and providing an unparalleled experience for fans and competitors alike.

  • 30:00 – Individual Expression in the Cage

    Animal Cage at the 2024 Arnold on the PricePlow Podcast

    Rudy discusses the openness of the “animal Cage” to athletes sponsored by other brands, emphasizing the importance of representation and enthusiasm among participants. He mentions the requirement for athletes to wear Animal t-shirts due to branding considerations for live footage, but notes the flexibility allowed in customizing the shirts to fit personal styles, underlining the event’s emphasis on individual expression and the unique nature of the lifts performed.

    The conversation touches on memorable moments from past events, including intense head-to-head battles and record-setting attempts, highlighting the community’s passion and dedication. Rudy also previews an exciting lineup for the upcoming Saturday event, featuring notable athletes like Dan Green, Julius Maddox, and Hunter Henderson, promising high-stakes performances.

Stay in touch with Animal:

Thanks for having us in the Cage, Jason and Rudy! This was a great time.

Until next time, subscribe to the PricePlow Podcast on your favorite platform, and please leave us a great review!

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