An A to Z FITNESS FLASHBACK
25 Years of Fitness and Sports Nutrition Industry Moments
Actor. Governor. Bodybuilding icon. He’s the brains and the brawn behind the Arnold Sports Festival, the largest health and fitness exposition in the nation. We’ve had the pleasure of exhibiting at the Arnold EXPO since 1993. And we were honored to be the title sponsor in 2014 and 2015.
We’ve seen a lot of sports nutrition trends come and go in 25 years. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) have jumped to the forefront of research in recent years, and the results have been turning heads. We now know that BCAAs are much more than building blocks for muscle tissue. Beyond playing a key role in protein synthesis (muscle growth), BCAAs are needed for the body to function properly. BCAAs impact muscular energy production and cognitive function. Countless scientific studies have confirmed the incredibly powerful effects that BCAAs have on human health and performance. No wonder they have become one of the most popular sports supplements. We now carry over # BCAA products.
Hello, 90’s. Raise your hand if your favorite workout attire featured baggy pants with a stringer tee? There’s no shame in your workout game. It’s what we wore back then, too. We sold T-Michael, Crazee Wear and more. Who wants to bring it back? Anyone? Anyone?
Bill Phillips/Body for Life
In 1998, we partnered with EAS and Bill Phillips, the creator of the Body-for-LIFE phenomenon. We helped distribute it to the masses. Everywhere you turned, everyone was doing the 12-week Body-for-LIFE program. Or talking about it.
If you’ve spent any time in this industry, you’re familiar with creatine. Most people know creatine is used for improving performance and increasing muscle mass. Here’s how it works: Creatine is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body and helps make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides energy for muscle contractions. In the early 1990s, reports on the benefits of creatine supplementation in sports performance began to surface. Soon after, a large number of human clinical trials with athletes were conducted. Creatine became readily available in 1993, when the founders of the sports nutrition company EAS, Anthony Almada and Ed Byrd, introduced it to the market under the EAS brand name Phosphagen. Bill Phillips, the publisher of Muscle Media 2000, published articles on the benefits of creatine in the “Natural Supplement Review.” In 1994, Bill purchased EAS.
By now, you have probably heard of CrossFit. We’ve seen an explosion in the number of Boxes. And we’re not talking about cardboard here. The number of affiliated CrossFit Boxes grew from 18 in 2005 to almost 1,700 in 2010. But what excites us more than anything is that CrossFit takes us back to the ol’ days when Europa was just starting out. In the early 90s, gyms were growing and adding sports nutrition to their shelves. Well, we see a ton of similarities. We love the excitement of the Games. And the intensity that CrossFit athletes bring to the table.
Detour Bar, First Triple Layer Baked Bar
It all started in 2002. We remember when the Detour Bar landed on our radar. We’re fairly certain we heard angels singing. Caramel and protein? Together? Great tasting? Ohhhh, it was divine. The original Detour Bar is the high protein bar that cracked the taste barrier, delivering all the nutritional benefits of whey protein in a delicious triple layer bar. Detour ushered in a new type of protein bar that tasted like a candy bar but with the addition of protein. Many have followed suit since then. And the industry has never been the same.
Europa Sports Products, Europa Games, Europa University
Europa Sports is so much more than the nation’s largest distributor of nutritional supplements, sports drinks, and accessories. For proof of that, look no further than the Europa Games—a national, multi-city fitness tour that unites more than 150,000 attendees and 35,000 competitors for dozens of athletic events. From CrossFit to cheerleading to martial arts and also sports nutrition classes through Europa University, there’s something for everyone.
In the golden era of 90s bodybuilding, everyone would don fanny packs. Everyone. We’re proud to confess we even sported Europa Embossed fanny packs. Nothing could be hipper than this hip bag. Rumor has it that the fanny pack is making a comeback. Bring it.
In 2010, we witnessed the rise of all things gluten-free. A gluten-free diet is exactly what it sounds like – a diet that excludes gluten. Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten causes health problems in sufferers of celiac disease (CD) and some cases of wheat allergy. Many of our products are gluten free. Gluten-free bars became very popular with brands such as NoGii, Quest, OhYeah and more. Many of today’s celebrities and famous athletes promote “G-Free” diets for health, dieting or athletic performance. U.S. sales of gluten-free food has more than doubled since 2005 to over $1.5 billion, according to the market research company Packaged Facts.
This is where it all began for Europa. It was the popularity of the original hardcore gyms like Gold’s, Powerhouse and World’s that provided the venues for Europa to grow and thrive and become the distributor we are today.
The Original Hot Stuff. Who remembers Hot Stuff? This supplement had a very loyal following. The term “kitchen sink” could potentially be applied to the original version, because it had everything in it. The original formula has been altered—but it still exists.
The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) was founded in 1946 by brothers Ben and Joe Weider. With headquarters located in Madrid, Spain, IFBB is the sanctioning body of the sport of bodybuilding and fitness. To be crowned an “IFBB Pro,” a bodybuilder must first earn an IFBB Pro Card. Fun IFBB fact: Eric Hillman is an IFBB judge.
Joe Weider has been called many things, including “The Trainer of Champions” and “Pioneer.” He literally changed the way we think about exercise, nutrition, and good health. Today, it’s widely accepted that a healthy lifestyle demands exercise and a balanced diet. But it wasn’t always that way. The first time Joe read about bodybuilding, something ignited inside of him. It’s only fitting that he went on to create a famous fitness magazine empire. He was the first to bring information about training, nutrition, and his beloved sport, bodybuilding, to the masses. But he didn’t stop here. He also produced machines and weights, selling them to gyms and customers. It was his belief in nutritional supplements that provided the foundation for today’s vitamin and supplement industry.
To his friends and colleagues, he’s respectfully known as “The Chairman.” To everyone else, Jim is the President of the National Physique Committee of the USA, the American national affiliate of the 175-country-strong International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB). Of course, he’s also the Chairman of the IFBB Professional League. He’s a straight shooter who doesn’t back down from hard work. Under his leadership, the world of professional bodybuilding has grown dramatically.
One of the most recognized bodybuilders in the world, Jay Cutler has also won the Mr. Olympia competition four times. He is the owner of Cutler Nutrition, which specializes in bodybuilding nutritional supplements.
A kettlebell is a cast-iron ball with a handle attached to it. It resembles a cannonball with a thick handle. A kettlebell was the weapon of choice for Russian lifters more than a century ago. Today, they are popular for use in CrossFit workouts and other types of functional training. Ketllebell workouts improve your balance, power, coordination and flexibility while developing your core strength, eliminating fat, and creating beautiful muscle tone. Yes, please.
Lee has won not one, not two, but eight consecutive World Bodybuilding Championships. With more than 30 years of fitness and nutrition experience, Lee has trained professional athletes and celebrities. He’s been a consultant for some of the world’s top nutritional supplement companies. He was appointed Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Europa and Lee go way, way, way back. In fact, Lee was in Greece with Eric when he came up with the name “Europa Sports.”
He’s famous around the world. He’s a highly respected, and now retired, professional bodybuilder. He’s a regular at the Europa booth during the Arnold Festival. As a bodybuilder, Lou won IFBB Mr. America title and two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universe titles. He trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger before competing against him. Lou’s attempt to beat Arnold was the subject of the 1975 documentary “Pumping Iron.” Millions of people know him as the green machine aka “The Incredible Hulk.” However, he’ll always be Lou to us.
The “low carb” diet trend became popular and commonly used for weight loss in the mid 90s. Atkins remains one of the most popular low-carb diets around today. Low-carb programs generally recommend that dieters get 30% to 50% of their total calories from protein. Recent studies have shown that low-carb diets not only shed extra pounds and more body fat, but participants also saw greater improvements in cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular health. Just. Say. No. To. Carbs.
If milk does a body good, then Muscle Milk does something amazing for building a better body. Father and son entrepreneurs, Greg and Michael Pickett, revolutionized sports nutrition when they developed Muscle Milk protein powder. In 2004, they launched ready-to-drink protein shakes and the rapid success of this brand has yet to slow down. The Pickett’s sports nutrition company, CytoSport, has built a loyal following among body builders and athletes. Muscle Milk took protein drinks out of the gym scene and brought them into the mainstream. Thank you, Greg and Michael.
The National Physique Committee is the premier amateur physique organization in the world. The IFBB recognizes the NPC as its amateur extension for the United States. Before athletes can become an IFBB professional, they must first win at the NPC Nationals Championship or be the overall winner at the NPC USA Championship. Top athletes in bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini and physique started their careers in the NPC. Many of those athletes graduated to successful careers in the IFBB Professional League, a list that includes 24 Olympia and 38 Arnold Classic winners. Another fun fact: Eric has been an NPC judge since 1994.
What was Joe Weider’s vision for Mr. Olympia? In 1963, Joe Weider decided that none of the bodybuilding titles accurately reflected the future of the sport. It was obvious to him that the current generation was taking bodybuilding to the next level. He wanted to deliver a title worthy of this progress. Today, winning the title of Mr. Olympia is the ultimate prize for the ultimate physique. Europa has proudly exhibited at the Mr. Olympia since 1990. And we will be a sponsor in 2015.
Let’s be honest. Back in the day, your workout attire was not complete unless you were sportin’ a pair of Otomix. Paired with your baggy pants. And stringer tee. You know you rocked it. All of it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger gained his first real notoriety outside bodybuilding circles with this docudrama focusing on a group of men training for the IFBB Mr. Olympia and IFBB Mr. Universe contest. The film focuses primarily on the competition between Arnold and Lou Ferrigno as both were training for the title of Mr. Olympia. At the time, Arnold had already won the title five times. In the film, he’s training for his sixth victory before retiring to fully pursue his acting career (which began to catch fire with his likable turn in Stay Hungry, released the same year) when this was shot.
The popularity of the paleo diet is due in large part to the CrossFit craze. The history of the paleo diet is also referred to as the Paleolithic diet or caveman diet. The foundation for this diet is the concept of eating natural, raw foods, such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds—foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering. This nutritional approach is meant to work with your genetics claiming that modern diets are not suitable for man.
The only pre—workouts we had back in the day were tying on our Otomix and making a new workout cassette tape, recorded off the radio. The pre-workout category exploded in recent years, with stimulant-based or stimulant-free options. Now, it’s a regular part of the supplement regimen to optimize your workout.
Quest Bars have become one of the top protein bars since hitting the shelves in 2010. Quest Bars started to generate buzz among bodybuilders and fitness models—a tribe of humans who are the embodiment of taste deprivation and dietary discipline. Certainly, Quest Bars are one of the best, offering great quality and natural ingredients with only 1 gram of sugar, high protein, and high fiber. The Quest Bar reformulated the protein bar category.
Coleman holds the record for most wins as an IFBB professional. How many, you ask? 26! He’s also won Mr. Olympia eight times. This guy is the real deal. In July 2012, Coleman launched his official supplement line: Ronnie Coleman Signature Series.
Ever heard of legendary strongman Eugen Sandow? He’s considered the “father of modern bodybuilding.” When he began to perform for audiences back in the 1890s, it was obvious that people didn’t really care about how much weight he was lifting. They wanted to see him pose. This was instantly dubbbed “muscle display performances.” And the rest is, well, history.
The arrival of the Tetra Pak revolutionized sports drinks. Whether you intend to rehydrate the body, get extra protein, or drink in extra vitamins and minerals, Tetra Pak made it all easier to swallow. All on-the-go.
Ultimate Orange launched in 1982. It was an ephedra-based stimulant that was used exclusively in the bodybuilder scene. Production ceased in 2001.
It all started with one brand, Vitalabs. This was the first brand that Jeff and Eric started selling in 1990. We continue to sell Vitalabs, in addition to the other 299 brands that we’ve added in 25 years.
Whey protein is made from the water substance that forms when milk separates into cheese curds. (Yum!) Whey protein is known for building muscle and increasing fat loss without impacting lean muscle mass. It can also help reduce hunger. Who wants some?
Xendadrine is a weight loss supplement that launched in 2008. Though it’s just one of the dozens on the shelves today, Xendadrine has been one of the longest running weight loss pills out there.
Supplements are formulated from all types of sources. This one is cultivated from the bark of a west African evergreen tree. Some say the yohimbe extract can prevent heart attacks. It also functions as a stimulant and an anti-depressant, and aids in weight loss as well as erectile dysfunction.
What is ZMA? It’s Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and Vitamin V6. Now that’s a mouthful, right? Known as a recovery aid and helping users achieve REM sleep, this supplement is popular with athletes, gymnasts, and bodybuilders.