iSatori has experienced such a surge of popularity in recent years, you might think they're a new company. But no, this company has been around a lot longer than its much-discussed flagship product, Bio-Gro. The company based out of Colorado has been in the supplement industry since launching their brand in 2001, and has roots in performance nutrition that stretch back even further.
CEO and President Stephen Adelé has been at the helm since the beginning, but he cut his chops working alongside Bill Phillips during the glory days of EAS in the 1990s. His own passion for fitness started like many of ours as a young teenager learning how to train with weights to get big and strong.
Adelé and iSatori athlete CT Fletcher gave Bodybuilding.com the full story and a preview of what iSatori will be up to in the months to come, including the iSatori CT Fletcher Signature Series line of supplements.
Tell our readers how your company started.
From the time I touched my first weight set when I was 13 years old, I was hooked. That was when I experienced the physical and mental changes that are part of the timeless allure of weight training. From there, I went on to compete and win several local bodybuilding competitions, and then put myself through college, earning a degree in finance. Eventually, my passion for training led me to sports nutrition, and I began working with industry giant EAS in Golden, Colorado, where I was friends with and worked side by side with Bill and Shawn Phillips.
At EAS, I am proud to say I was involved in pretty much everything, ranging from the product development meetings where Myoplex was engineered, to launching many new innovations in nutritional supplements, to traveling the world and setting up product distributors in 55 countries.
After this, always an entrepreneur at heart, I decided it was time to make my move and start my own company. I teamed up with Shawn Phillips, and we literally walked across the street, rented an office, wrote "Failure is not an option" on a giant whiteboard, and started what would become iSatori. The desire was strong to take everything we had learned along our journey and preserve the same principles from our original success: investing in legitimate science, telling the truth—no matter how hard or damning—and providing people with a more integrated approach to building a better body through training, nutrition, and nutritional supplements.
With our pure drive, passion, lots of sweat, hard work, and love for the industry, we beat the odds, built a great company, and have enjoyed incredible success for the last twelve years. And even though the economy and our competitors have changed over the years, our values at iSatori remain unchanged:
- Tell the truth in everything we do
- Validate our products with legitimate science
- Provide our customers with not just a supplement, but a total integrated solution.
- Always seek constant improvement—in our products, people, and customer interactions.
We want to teach people how to train, eat, and use supplements to build a better body and make a lasting physical transformation!
Where does the name for your company, iSatori, originate?
"Satori" is a Japanese word which means "to have an epiphany or an awakening." Suddenly, anything seems possible, and you have the answers. In our world, that means building a better body. We provide the answers to help you get from where you are to where you want to be. For most people, that means building muscle or losing body fat, completely changing the way they look and feel about themselves, all while overcoming the daily challenges we all encounter in life.
We added the "i" to make it more personal—it's your satori, because every transformation begins from within.
Tell us about some of the important people who helped you out in the beginning.
There were several influencers in my earlier years, most prominently Bill Phillips. I didn't just work at EAS; I learned from the best. Working with Bill, I learned that it's all about the customer, and everything else in your business is a far second. He used to tell me, quite frequently, that you can drive yourself crazy trying to make everyone happy, so pick a customer you're truly passionate about and care deeply about helping them.
I also learned from his brother Shawn Phillips. Shawn and I, in many ways, were like brothers. He taught me the value of building personal relationships with our business partners. I enjoy this part of the business. Because of this early lesson, I have many, many friends, all around the world and in every corner of the industry—even some of our archrival competitors.
I worked for a short period of time with Anthony Almada, the original founder of EAS. His knowledge of science and nutritional research is unbelievable. The guy is like a walking PubMed. Anthony taught me how to take complex scientific data and interpret it in a way so everyday individuals like you and me could comprehend and understand its application. This was invaluable in my writing. I've now authored nine books on training, nutrition, and sports supplementation, including my book, "Sports Supplement Buyer's Guide" and most recently with the bestseller "Diets Suck!"
And I have to mention my mother. She is a strong woman who raised me alone from the age of 16. She taught me different ways to look at complicated problems. In business, you encounter complex issues that need to be resolved to keep moving forward, and my mom has an uncanny ability to look at things from a unique point of view and help resolve virtually any issue. She has also been, as you would guess, my biggest fan along the way!
Tell us a little more about yourself. What does your day look like?
I love what I do. Every day I wake at 5:15 a.m., charged and excited. I drink a glass of Pre-Gro with an extra boost of Bio-Gro—our newest category-creating invention—and train every morning at 6. Afterward, I head to the office by 8:30 after I drop off my three girls at their schools.
I enter the office thrilled about what I do at iSatori. I love this industry, and I love my company. I also love helping people look better and feel better about themselves while they achieve lasting results using our information and supplements.
Don't get me wrong—there are very challenging days, as you would expect. But each time a challenge arises, I simply walk into our hallways and look at the pictures and read the stories of our customers who have made incredible transformations, and I say to myself, "That's what it's all about!" That always, without fail, reboots my mental state and recharges me. I love that, every day, we get the unique opportunity at iSatori—much the same as with Bodybuilding.com—to change people's lives in a positive way.
I pride myself on being a student of our industry and a student of business. I've enjoyed winning several awards that have solidified my awareness of business and our industry. These have included being a finalist in the prestigious "Entrepreneur of The Year" from Ernst & Young, as well as the "Best Boss in America" from "Fortune magazine."
I won the "Gold Award" from Nutrition Business Journal, and—the one I am most proud of—I was an Outstanding Young American finalist. I was awarded this for the charity work I do and the contributions our company makes to civil servants and military personnel. When you are a CEO, you don't get a lot of "atta boys" or pats on the shoulders, so these awards have helped validate some of my hard work, and I'm most proud of them.
Most people don't know this, but I also actually "wrote the book," so to speak, on beta-alanine back in 2006 before it was popular. It was called "The Carnosine Breakthrough," and nine years later, you can find beta-alanine in nearly every sports supplement on the market.
What are some of your top products right now?
Without a doubt, our top-selling products are the muscle-building product Bio-Gro, and our Bio-Gro flavored bioactive peptides. We invented Bio-Gro, patented it, and have done extensive clinical study work on it. In fact, the most recent clinical study abstracts, which were presented at the annual ISSN and NSCA conferences, showed Bio-Gro improved post-exercise recovery time, increased strength, and added an average body mass gain of 6.3 pounds over eight weeks when combined with intense training.
Although there's been a bit of initial criticism on bioactive peptides, which is always—and rightfully— part of the game with new innovations, these Bio-Gro products continue to perform solidly in customer reviews and ratings. Why? Well, because they flat-out work.
Our products like Bio-Gro have undergone randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled independent studies, which are the gold standard of clinical research. We are one of only a handful of companies within our industry that actually invests in legitimate clinical studies on our supplements. I see this as investing in our consumers' confidence in iSatori. Through these studies, they can be sure our products work, do what we claim, and are safe to use.
Of our newest product releases, we have two supplements building up a broad customer base pretty quickly: Pre-Gro and Hyper-Gro. Pre-Gro is what customers are calling "the Cadillac of pre-workouts," because it is fortified with Bio-Gro along with a full-featured list of powerhouse ingredients, including the new HydroMax glycerol for a pump so intense it actually hurts.
On the other hand, Hyper-Gro was designed as a lower-calorie "clean" mass gainer, also fortified with Bio-Gro, to help guys build muscle faster without adding fat weight. Hyper-Gro tastes delicious, and my favorite flavor, which is exclusive to Bodybuilding.com, is the new peanut butter cup.
Personally, I won't train a day without stacking Pre-Gro with extra Bio-Gro to help support my performance in the weight room. And after I train, it's a Hyper-Gro lean-mass-gainer shake.
What new products are you coming out with soon?
We are always developing new, truly innovative supplements at iSatori. Though I believe Bio-Gro bioactive peptides is our defining product, we never stop innovating, for the sake of creating something new that will change the game again.
We have funded three more clinical studies this year, and we are working on a new fat-burning and weight-loss ingredient that will change the way people think about losing body fat while maintaining or developing muscle. Let's just say it will be a physique-transformation agent like none ever seen before.
We are also working on the release of the new iSatori CT Fletcher Signature Series of supplements for serious weight trainers and lifters. We are getting ready to release three products, all personally used, endorsed, and approved by CT Fletcher himself. I have been involved in the creation of these products and the brand from day one, alongside our research team and CT, and we have built some of the most powerful supplements in our company's history.
Let's say a beginner comes to you and can only afford one product. Which one do you recommend, and why?
If there is only one product, it would definitely be Bio-Gro. As you know, muscle mass is the foundation of any program, whether you're seeking to gain more or dieting to lose fat while preserving hard-earned muscle. Without sufficient muscle, you'll find it difficult to reach your physical and aesthetic goals.
And that's what makes Bio-Gro so essential. It basically makes everything you consume in the form of protein "work better" by increasing the rate of protein synthesis (the rate of muscle reconstruction). The faster the rate of protein synthesis, the bigger or stronger you become, depending on which is your training goal. Bio-Gro helps improve recovery, increase strength, and build lean muscle mass. I believe it should be the foundation of any serious lifter's nutrition program.
You've been in this industry for a long time. What's the best thing about it?
The best thing, for sure, is seeing the changes you can make in someone's life. When someone gains 25 pounds of muscle or loses 75 pounds of weight, it usually changes their life forever. And just as importantly, I see the discipline they developed spread into all parts of their life. That's where I gain my inspiration from: our customers.
I remember being an 18-year-old kid, trying to gain muscle mass, and the way I felt when I put on enough weight to compete in my first teenage competition—which I won, by the way. It was Mr. Teenage Colorado, in the AAU—remember that organization?
I know the role we play in helping people, whether it's gaining muscle and entering their first bodybuilding or physique competition, or losing body fat and seeing their abs for the first time. The pictures and stories and getting to meet these people is by far the best part of the industry.
What's the worst thing about the industry?
It's surely the few bad apples that spoil so much for the rest of us. By this I mean those few companies—more like guys working out of their garages—who pull out their high school chemistry kits, create some new chemical that skirts the FDA's list of banned substances, then proclaim themselves "industry gurus," and release a concoction to the marketplace for unsuspecting consumers to use.
There is no legitimate scientific evidence to prove what they made is safe, no clearance from the FDA as a new dietary ingredient, and nothing but anecdotal evidence that it works and provides a long-term benefit. Then the FDA steps in after some athlete uses it, or some kid finds himself in the hospital with a failed liver, and shuts it all down. The media picks up on this and blasts the airways and Internet with negative editorials about how supplements—all of them—are unhealthy and should be banished forever.
I'm passionate about being a responsible company at iSatori. I care about more than my ego or profits, and I won't get in the way of doing what's right and will ultimately benefit people who seek to use our supplements.
What final message would you like to add?
I'd like to use this opportunity to say thank you to all of the customers and fans of iSatori. Without you, I wouldn't get to do what I do every day. Without you, I wouldn't enjoy spending so much time in our lab working on our new product developments to uncover the next big thing in supplementation, or working in the gym to inspire the next training program, or staying up late at night writing books to help our customers.
I know you've trusted us with your hard-earned money, and because of that, I thank you. I take it seriously and will always work hard to provide you with the very best in premium, science-based supplements that work.
Finally, if you are an up-and-coming athlete, competitive bodybuilder, physique or fitness or bikini competitor—and, crucially, you consider yourself to possess "stand-up" character as an athlete, with high ethics, and are influential in your city—then give us a shout.
We don't sponsor professional sports athletes who are paid to say they use our supplements. Instead, we prefer to sponsor athletes who work their butts off and have regular lives outside of the gym, yet have built incredible physiques and are passionate about helping people in their communities to do the same. You can contact us at info@iSatori.com to see if we can find a way to work together here at iSatori.
Athlete Interview: iSatori Athlete: CT Fletcher
It makes sense that a company with a product called Bio-Gro would work with an athlete who actually commands his muscles to grow. CT Fletcher has become one of the most popular athletes in the fitness world with his YouTube channel, no-bullshit attitude toward training, and passion to help others make their muscles grow too.
Even though, yes, it's still his set, the former world-champion bencher and strict-curl champ found some time to tell Bodybuilding.com about why he's aligned himself with Adelé and the iSatori crew.
Note: His language, as ever, may be offensive to some readers—and he doesn't care.
You could have signed with any company. Why iSatori?
That's a damn good question. You're right, I could've signed with a lot of them, but iSatori called me up and I had dinner with Stephen Adelé and his family, which was great for me. One big point is that they don't try to change me, censor me, or make me "fan-friendly." Please understand I won't endorse a product I won't use simply because I get paid. Those were requirements I had. Other companies wanted to change me, but my integrity doesn't have a price tag.
What are your favorite products?
Bio-Gro, definitely. I like it, and I don't have a scientific answer because I'm not an MC-squared motherfucker. I tried it, and I felt the effects they claim to on the label, so I added it. I use it with my iSatori protein, and because I like it so much, I actually double the recommended dosage. Not sure if that's proper, but it works for me, so I fucking do it.
I use Isa-Test because I'm 56. Arnold says a good pump is better than sex, and that's the only thing I disagree with him on. At 56, Isa-Test helps me have sex, so I like it.
And Maxon [coming to Bodybuilding.com this September]. I just took my last four tablets today, and iSatori needs to send me more. I feel immediate strength improvement and endurance. I burn 20-years-old up, just like I did these two 20-something New York iron addicts I worked with today.
Tell us about your new line launching in September.
Man, I'm so excited about this shit because, first of all, Bodybuilding.com is going to be the exclusive U.S. carrier. I've been a Bodybuilding.com customer for years, and they're the best. To have the best carry my line, it's a dream come true, man.
I really can't believe that my life is what it is. Sometimes I feel like in 2005 I died on that operating table and this is heaven. The CT Fletcher Signature Series coming out is another part of that dream coming true for me. I'm so blessed to see this happening and appreciate iSatori working with me on my new line to share it with the world.
If a customer is looking for a brand to follow, why should he or she choose iSatori?
One thing about iSatori that a person can be assured of is, if CT Fletcher is their spokesperson, CT actually takes those products and believes enough to take them on a daily basis. I'm a guy from the streets, and with my background, people know I'm the realest motherfucker out there. I hope they know I wouldn't support a company that's not real. If they can trust me, then they know I wouldn't trust a company that isn't real. That's the difference. Also, because I fucking said so!