In part III of our expert roundtable series, featuring Kris Gethin, Marc Lobliner, Mark Glazier and Ryback Reeves, we talk about a hot topic: steroids. We find out their views on steroid using athletes sponsored by supplement companies and whether or not steroids should be allowed in professional sports. We get their take on social media's impact on the fitness industry. The panel shares with us their regrets. Finally, the panel predicts where they think the industry is going to be in the next five years.
This is the third and final installment of our Expert Roundtable series featuring Kris Gethin, Marc Lobliner, Mark Glaizer and Ryback Reeves. We will continue to bring you different roundtables from those who influence and have an impact in our fitness community.
MEET OUR EXPERTS
- MARC LOBLINER
- KRIS GETHIN
- MARK GLAZIER
- RYBACK REEVES
CEO MTS Nutrition
Marc is currently Chief Marketing Officer of TigerFitness.com, a 2012/2013/2014 INC. 500/5000 company as well as Owner/CEO of two of the fastest growing supplement companies, EthiTech Nutrition and MTS Nutrition.
Marc has been featured in Muscle & Strength, MuscleMag International (Italy), and Ironman (Australia) magazines, and has appeared in Men's Fitness as a physique model. Marc has authored several print articles that have appeared in trade magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, as well as online at Bodybuilding.com, and has also co-authored 10 books on the subject of physique transformation
CEO Kaged Muscle Supplements
Kris is the founder of DTP training method, Director and Co-founder of Gethin Gyms, Main Male Spokesmodel of Bodybuilding.com, and former editor and chief. He is the Director of Trainers for Physique Global and CEO of the supplement brand KAGED MUSCLE which and shipped worldwide and has already become the highest rated and reviewed supplement company in the world.
His passion and determination for building a better, stronger, healthier body and mind pushes him to achieve great things for himself physically and mentally, thus enabling him to motivate and inspire his followers and fans across the world to achieve greatness for themselves. Kris has transformed millions of physiques through his immensely popular video series shown on Bodybuilding.com. including the immensely popular 12 week muscle building trainer.
Mark is the CEO and founder of NutraBio Labs. NutraBio was created in 1996 on the premise of "Never Compromising" meaning providing quality and transparency to the consumer. Mark has been in the sports supplement industry as a brand owner, formulator and manufacturer for over 22 years. He travels the country as an advocate for improving dietary supplement industry standards, exposing scams and educating the sports nutrition industry on proper supplementation and manufacturing techniques. Mark serves on the Natural Products Association committee for Sports Nutrition.
For over twenty years NutraBio has been committed to providing efficacious and quality supplements. In 2001, NutraBio revolutionized the supplement industry by becoming the first brand to commit to No Proprietary Blends and full label disclosure, banning all fillers and excipients from their products, guaranteeing full therapeutic dosages and manufacturing their own products to control every aspect of quality. NutraBio supplements are manufactured in the United States in their own GMP certified manufacturing facility to meet or exceed FDA 21 CFR Part 111 CGMP Regulations.
CEO Feed Me More Nutrition
Former WWE Superstar
Ryback is a former WWE superstar who left the company to start his own supplement company, Feed Me More Nutrition. Through a series of testing over the years, Ryback was able to formulate his own products which are now being produced for everyone in the world. Currently Feed Me More Nutrition has a pre-workout, grass fed isolate protein an all-natural testosterone booster and a fat burner.
In your opinion, how has social media impacted the fitness industry? Please think about those who became “Instagram Famous” when responding to this question. Is that necessarily a good thing?
It has changed the world, not just our industry. A pro card means nothing, yet the ability to make your ass look huge and “look back at it” is a bread-winner. It is good and bad. We have always had BS, even in the days of print ads and false advertising. The cost of entry is simply lower now.
It’s good and bad. You have so called “experts” selling programs who have no qualifications whatsoever. They are mostly cookie-cutter plans that are no different for hundreds of clients they sell them to. For others like myself or Mark Lobliner, it gives us the opportunity educate, inspire, motive and help people reach their health, fitness and appearance goals.
Social media is playing an important role in sports supplement marketing these days as brands have moved away from traditional print advertising. Social media is an extremely effective way to get your message directly to the consumers who care about it.
Social media has impacted the nutrition industry in a huge way. For me, it’s played a major role in increasing brand awareness for Feed Me More Nutrition, allowing me to leverage my existing fan base and educate them on the importance of health and fitness and the value of my product line. How people choose to consume social media and what they choose to focus on is their own decision. While I personally try to limit my consumption, it’s still a fundamental tool for me to connect with my fans and employ from an advertising perspective. Plus, it's great for getting nonstop images of fitness babes, how is that ever a bad thing?
Athlete endorsements are a large part of a sports nutrition company’s marketing strategy. What are your thoughts on sports nutrition companies sponsoring athletes who are not natural, potentially giving consumers the idea of a false promise?
Natural or not, supplements help. Protein is needed, creatine can still help, health supplements like Nektar can REALLY help. This is a loaded question. Supplements aren’t drugs but can still help SUPPLEMENT one’s diet. Let’s not take supplements out of context.
ABOUT MTS NUTRITION
MTS Nutrition is more than just a supplement line to me. It's my story. It has a meaning and a purpose. Each MTS Nutrition product embodies my passion for health and fitness and echoes the struggles of my past and the lives that my products help to change on a daily basis.
It swings both ways. Although I am a natural bodybuilder and have competed in natural shows for 11 years, I have never had an interest in watching natural shows. I much prefer to watch something that’s deemed to me as unattainable. It’s up to the consumer to recognize what’s likely natural and what’s likely unnatural. Just because we purchase a golf club like Tiger Woods it doesn’t mean we will play like Tiger Woods, we would be stupid to think so. Bodybuilders on steroids train just as hard, if not harder than most people not on steroids. They still need to supplement like any athlete, natural or not.
So, even if someone is on steroids, it would be silly for the consumer to think that a supplement alone would get them there. I weigh anywhere 210-220lbs depending on the look I am trying to achieve, but it has taken me 20 years of incredibly hard training, precise supplementation and not missing a single meal on all those years to achieve this. Supplements may provide 3-5% of the support you need to reach your goals. End of story.
Consumers don’t buy supplements because they believe the celebrity bodybuilders actually used them to achieve their body any more than they believe Michael Jackson got his dancing skills from drinking Pepsi. Most sponsored bodybuilders jump brands, or had their bodies before the sponsoring brand hired them; give consumers credit, they realize this and buy the brand anyway because they relate to the athlete on some level.
Personally I don’t believe in hiring outside celebrity influencers. My product is real; so, I want my spokespeople to be real. I remember an industry consultant bashing us on social media because we wouldn’t hire outside athletes. He claimed our egos were so big we though we could do it on our own. He just didn’t get it, it had nothing to do with ego, it had to do with us having an honest relationship with our customers.
We had a slogan we started using about 18 years ago: Real People, Real Results. We’ve used a bunch of variations of that slogan over the years because it resonates true with us. I believe in focusing on our customers and what they have achieved, spotlighting their successes with NutraBio supplements is a lot more honest and I believe our customers relate to it better. Sure we have athletes on our team but they are real NutraBio users who have grown with us. Like Jimmie Rivera who is currently #5 in the UFC, he has been using NutraBio all along and we are proud of that.
I personally believe in being honest with my fan base and consumers. If you’ve listened to my weekly podcast Conversation with The Big Guy, you know I tell it how it is (from my perspective). For Feed Me More Nutrition, I am my greatest asset from an advertising perspective, and I haven't had to go down that road as far as product endorsements, nor would I. The world revolves around money, so people will always do whatever they can to maximize that. I personally choose to do it a different way and try not to focus on that area of the sports nutrition industry.
Since we’ve been discussing the use of steroids in the previous two questions, what are your overall thoughts on the use of steroids in competition (sports, bodybuilding)?
There are natural organizations and non-tested organizations in bodybuilding, so that’s a non-issue to me. Compete where you belong.
As for sports, I want to see the best of the best. How they get there is on them. And sports will never be fair. When in high school, we played Beverly Hills High School. They had their own trainers, dieticians and great equipment. We had a McDonald’s near the football locker room. It is never a level playing field. I just want to see some home runs.
If the person in question is very smart with their decision and consumption, I don’t have a problem with it as a means to compete on a level playing field where everyone is likely taking. I have a problem when most amateurs take more than the pros because their assumption is that the pros are bigger so they must be taking more. This is far from the truth. Dorian Yates (who I have known personally for many years) didn’t take half the amount that most thought he did. Today he is still in good health. People only saw him as the mass monster and assumed he was taking more, so some followed suit and suffered the consequences in the process.
I much prefer the healthy natural route; this is the life I have chosen for myself and to promote to others. I eat, train, and supplement a certain way for variety; agility, health, and activity, vanity comes last. I have no interest in competing, so it’s only my personal wish not to use. Some of my best friends use, but I have no opinion or judgment towards them.
ABOUT KAGED MUSCLE SUPPLEMETS
KAGED MUSCLE has three rules of formulation for every product bearing our name: it has to be efficacious, safe, and backed by science. If a product doesn’t meet all of these rules, we don’t produce it.
KAGED MUSCLE guarantees the potency of its products. We verify each production batch so that what you read on the product label is what you’ll receive in the product.
Regarding traditional sports such as baseball, football, etc., I think that steroids are negatively influencing the younger generation and could lead to long-term steroid abuse. Numerous studies and polls estimate that up to 11% of high school athletes have used steroids and human growth hormone, and that number is rising each year. High school athletes, especially football players, realize early on that competition for college scholarships is rigorous and if they want to eventually secure spots on professional teams, they will need every competitive advantage available. Steroid use for these kids is unfortunately a foregone conclusion. They ignore the long-term health consequences, such as kidney problems, high blood pressure, and increased stroke or heart attack risk. As for the steroid and bodybuilding debate, it will go on for years.
I actually write about this in my book Wake Up It's Feeding Time! While I do feel the media has sometimes misconstrued the facts on certain aspects of steroids, ultimately when abused there are very real dangers.
The problem we face is they have been around now for some time and many feel it would be a step back from a performance or physique standpoint if they were eliminated altogether. Many sports, including the WWE, have done a fantastic job in eliminating (or at the very least cutting down on) their existence - but as we see with people still failing tests occasionally in all sports, they aren't gone altogether. Different sport organizations have Testosterone Replacement Therapy Programs for athletes if they truly suffer from low testosterone, and I feel that’s a good thing. Being monitored and kept in the normal testosterone range can enhance many men's lives and it doesn't interfere with performance, in that an athlete isn't cutting corners to get an advantage on an opponent. They are simply being allowed to be "normal" whereas it is actually significantly unhealthy to just sit back and suffer from low testosterone.
As far as sports go, I 100% feel that testing and not allowing steroids to be used is a great thing. It sends the right message to our youth and others that success can be achieved without them. As a society, we have to stop comparing today's athletes to generations before - I know, easier said than done obviously.
As far as bodybuilding goes it’s something that has seemingly existed for so long, many people can't imagine the sport if they were to ban them. Athletes will do anything to gain an edge when fame and money are waiting at the finish line, and they don't always think about once that race is over so to speak. There is no way to monitor everyone and if one guy has superior genetics and uses so and so and another guy has less than impressive genetics and has to use so and so, plus 5 other things, there is no way to control that. You can't take away that anyone who competes doesn't work hard, that isn't the question at hand, but the use of steroids dramatically alters reality. The problem is, athletes can still be superstars and larger than life because the skillset at hand really doesn't drastically change that much without steroids, but in bodybuilding a physique on drugs and not on drugs looks completely different.
In an ideal world, eliminating or limiting their use would be a best case scenario, but it is no doubt a controversial topic and much easier to discuss than to apply, especially when money is on the line.
Thinking back on your time in the fitness and sports nutrition industry, if you could change one thing you were involved in or done, what would that be and why?
Nothing, it all leads to where I am now, and I fucking love this.
I fucking love this.
I wouldn’t change anything. I have published six books. My last one, The Transformer, has allowed me to look back and reflect on all the good and the bad that has happened. Everything happened for a reason and has brought me to this point. When the bad things occur, emotion and stress blurs the path of opportunity. In hindsight, I believe there is reason and purpose for it.
I started training in martial arts when I was about 8 years old and began weight training at the age of 12 years. I knew right away that both would be part of my future. I have had two careers. I spent the early years building a martial arts organization then dedicated the past 21 years to NutraBio. It has been a long journey, but I have loved every minute of it.
I consider myself one of the lucky souls who have turned their passion into their career. And, although I put in 15 hours or more a day at the office, I do not consider it to be work. I have made my share of poor decisions along the way and too damn many mistakes to keep track of, but I do not think I would change any of them if I could. They have all made me who I am today; my poor decisions have led to experience, hard times and adversity have made me stronger, and my failures have all eventually led to successes. It has been a hell of a ride so far, and I am not slowing down or looking back.
NutraBio was founded in 1996 with the goal of providing our customers with the most effective supplements. In 2001, we revolutionized the supplement industry by introducing four quality commitments: Never using proprietary blends & guaranteeing full label disclosure, banning all fillers, excipients & additives from our products, guaranteeing full therapeutic dosages of every active ingredient, and manufacturing our own products so we could control every aspect of quality.
Use coupon code INFORMANT to save 5% off ALL NutraBio products.
I would have to say doing Andro when I was in my younger years. I grew up playing baseball and being a fan of guys like Mark McGwire and when all that stuff came out during baseball's boom period I bought into the Andro hype much like many others. The problem was that I was probably only 19 years old and as many of us know, Andro can screw up your hormone levels, especially at such a young age. I had no clue that what I was putting into my body was hurting my natural testosterone production and just thought, "oh I play baseball and I want to be like Mark McGwire." That is what I mean when talking about the message we send to others, especially when in a position of fame and power.
It was completely my fault for making the decision though, and it eventually led me to experiment with steroids in my early 20's for several years on and off until I realized there was no end game - except having low testosterone for quite some time. I’m grateful that the WWE maintains a strict drug testing policy for the wrestlers - that’s what made me stop before realizing I even wanted to. It is a never ending cycle of up and down.
It eventually lead me to experiment with steroids in my early 20's
Where do you see the fitness industry in the next five years?
I see MTS Nutrition at the top, and that’s all that matters.
An expansion of what it is now. I hope that the platforms I have been given, and the ones I create, will allow me to help people recognize the health aspect of supplementation and the lifestyle bodybuilding should be associated with, which is all centered around health. Instead, I see more people become switched off to human interaction, acknowledgment of their purpose, increased insecurity and taking a supplement just because someone endorsed it or because it’s on promo…but at the expense of possible performance and health. As the industry grows, I want the voices of health education to grow louder.
As the industry grows, I want the voices of health education to grow louder.
These are exciting times in the sports supplement industry. In the last few years, we have seen a consumer shift toward clean labels, with a demand for more transparency and honesty from supplement brands. The trend is picking up momentum and will not slow down.
The last decade constituted the “Era of Deceit,” which large and small brands that believed in marketing hype over product substance led the way. Protein spiking, under-dosing, protein bait and switch, and fillers are just a few of the scams that became commonplace and acceptable in the backrooms of the industry. Consumers were treated with disregard and near contempt. Am I over-dramatizing this? Absolutely not! Just look at protein spiking alone, and consider how many legacy brands were caught in this scam. The brands we all thought were too big to cheat fell like dominos, one after another.
So if the last 10 years constituted the “Era of Deceit,” the next 10 will be the “Era of the Consumer,” with brands that have a passionate belief in changing the lives of their customers will usher in. These brands are committed to the principle that real products bring real results to their customers and are willing to invest in long-term approaches to success. Some have been around for a while, and many are emerging, but they share a common belief in brand integrity. Does this mean that all the scams are gone? Far from it! A battle is waging between the old guard and the new guard: The former is armed with money and lawyers while the latter with passion and integrity. This battle will no doubt be ugly, but change usually is.
The next 10 will be the "Era of the Consumer"
In the future, expect to see more products becoming available without proprietary blends, more label disclosure and transparency, and real science backing real doses. In this early stage, you will notice commonalities between competing products. These are already apparent in the fully-dosed PWO category. This is a good sign because, as brands disclose their formulas, they are forced to use the real dosages that research rather than hype backs. In the short term, consumers will have more efficacious products to choose from. This will eventually lead to more innovation as brands compete to stand out from each other.
I believe the fitness industry will continue to grow and prosper in the coming years and I think having more and more alternatives is always a good thing. It will continue to be a highly competitive industry, no doubt, and the brands who can provide great products and establish their brand with quality will stay ahead of the pack. I’m proud to be directly involved now and look forward to continuing to deliver amazing products while growing my brand to the front of the pack…not an easy task, but one I look forward to.
ABOUT FEED ME MORE NUTRITION
Feed Me More Nutrition was founded by former WWE Superstar Ryback Reeves. Feed Me More Nutrition featured four sports nutrition supplements: grass fed whey protein isolate, pre-workout, an all-natural testosterone booster and a fat burner. Each product is made with the highest quality ingredients available.
Our final takeaway from this roundtable is that the industry has a need for improvement in terms of supplement quality and consumer education. The days of proprietary blends are slowly moving to the wayside, but cute marketing slogans and product packaging still takes precedent over high quality supplements. This is where these roundtable and Fitness Informant can make a change.