Natural Force Interview with Paleo Movement Magazine
Special Guest Segment Written by:
Have you ever picked up a workout supplement, only to read the laundry list of ingredients and put it back down in disgust? You likely have, because most supplement companies offer products that are filled with artificial ingredients, flavors, and fillers— and if you’re anything like me you avoid “weird stuff” like the plague. But this is where Natural Force will delightfully surprise you. Recently, two Natural Force products were certified Paleo Friendly by the Paleo Foundation because they were offering products that were unlike the rest—they were real, they were effective, and they were Paleo.
Natural Force founders Justin Quinn and Joe Rakoski are breaking ground in the Paleo Movement and setting the bar high for workout supplements, so we wanted to learn more about them and their motivation behind creating the Paleo-Friendly Raw Tea and Iskiate Endurance products.
1) Justin, Joe, what is your background and where did you meet?
Justin: We went to college together at Towson University in Maryland, which is outside of Baltimore. Joe and I were the first graduating class of the university’s Entrepreneurship program. Joe was a personal trainer for most of his early career and I worked for a large supplement chain for several years. We became good friends during our classes together and started training together regularly at the campus gym.
2) When did you first start Natural Force?
Joe: We started Natural Force shortly after we met at Towson. We were working on a small business internship together and were sharing our philosophies on training and nutrition. We worked out together all the time and talked regularly about supplements.
Justin: I would always tell Joe about the latest new product in the supplement store that made outrageous claims or was just ridiculous. After all the poking fun, the conversation quickly shifted and we began wondering why sports supplement companies didn’t carry over nutritional values from healthy eating and instill them into their products.
Joe: We thought someone should create a company that caters to the people that eat natural and healthy and base all of their products off of raw whole food ingredients. So we did! We set out to create the first line of sports supplements that did just that.
3) Joe, tell us about Body Force.
Joe: Body Force is a small chain of training facilities that my girlfriend and I starting about a year after Justin and I launched Natural Force. We have 2 locations in Maryland and we specialize in functional training. We train everyone from beginners, to soccer Mom, to athletes. Fitness has always been a passion of mine and I enjoy sharing my love for training to help change our clients’ lives. You can check us out at bodyforcetraining.com
4) Do you emphasize dietary changes in your clientele?
Joe: Yes we do. As I know you will agree, “you cannot out train poor nutrition.” Once we get our clients settled into their new programs and fitness lifestyles, we start by helping them clean up their diets. We emphasize an “eat real foods” philosophy that is based on Paleo dieting principles, and we also incorporate the importance of fueling your body for training and aiding your body in recovery through proper supplementation (yes, we sell Natural Force products).
5) How did you get into sports supplements?
Joe: The concept of fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs has always been a core value that we both shared. We both got into sports supplements while seeking to maximize our training efforts. Nothing can replace food, but supplements are a great way to additionally fuel our body, especially when you place extra demand on it through intense exercise.
6) What are the core values of Natural Force products?
Justin: I’m really glad that you asked this question. Our core values are truly what sets us apart from any other supplement company. When we had the idea to start this company it was not just an idea for one product. It was an idea for an entire line of products based on our strict nutritional core values. We set out to create a BRAND that our health-conscious consumers could trust. Here are our core values and an example of each “in action” within our company.
• Drive change and be different.
We do not follow the trend of using the conventional ingredients that a lot of other supplement companies use. We take a new approach to creating unique, effective sports supplements by researching and using naturally powerful super foods.
• Keep it simple and RAW.
We follow Paleo Friendly principles and select only raw whole food based ingredients when designing our products. We never use vitamin or isolated supplement powders, etc. We never add any unnecessary fillers, artificial ingredients and especially flavoring to our products.
• Loyalty and Trust.
We set out to create a base of loyal, life time customers. We develop trust by not making outrageous claims when marketing our products, and we offer a 100% money back satisfaction guarantee on all of our products. We enhance our customers’ orders whenever possible through t-shirts, shakers and frequent buyer coupons.
• Never Compromise Quality
We source Organic ingredients for all of our products whenever possible. We go above and beyond to assure the best ingredient selection and manufacturing processes.
7) You say Natural Force is “BS-Free”, what prompted you to market your products that way?
Justin: This past year we really did a lot of research and development coming up with our two new products. When it came time to develop our marketing strategy we were really struggling.
Joe: Yeah, we kept saying these supplements are the purest, most raw thing consumers can get, but how do we convey this in a catchy way? It doesn’t have any flavoring. Okay. It doesn’t have any artificial coloring or unnecessary fillers. Okay. That’s all well and good but still doesn’t really tell me anything or make it stand out.
Justin: That was when it clicked. We were talking back and forth, trying to hash everything out, and Joe asked me, “What does everyone else use in their products that we don’t?” To which I replied, “Well a lot of it is all a bunch of bullshit and marketing hype”. And that is how BS Free was born. It was the simplest way to describe what we were trying to do.
8) Your products contain Organic ingredients.. is this a new trend in the supplement industry, or do you feel you are trailblazers?
Justin: Karen, when we first created the company we thought eventually consumers would move more and more towards using products with organic ingredients. We took a chance on this idea and have not seen anyone else do the same, so I feel that yes, we are blazing the trail when it comes to supplements.
Joe: Consumers are definitely responding, so if anything, I feel we are kick starting the trend. It is something that we truly believe in and we think that there is value knowing that the sports supplements you are using are not contradicting your nutritional principles.
9) I believe over half of the ingredients in the Raw Tea are known aphrodisiacs. Are you sure this is a sports supplement? Can you take this tea anytime?
Justin: It is funny that you mention that. It became a widely used joke around here when we first started as to whether or not we should market the Raw Tea as more than just a pre-workout for its ability to “increase blood-flow”. Let’s just say it is a great pre-workout but we are not telling you that you can’t use it for other things.
10) Who did you create Natural Force products for?
Justin: We created this line of supplements for anyone who eats a natural, whole food based diet, and would like to carry those same principles over into their sports supplementation. We used our core values to set guidelines that for creation of our line of supplements before we even started. Everything we used in the formulas had to be comprised of whole food ingredients (no vitamin or supplement powders) and we would never add anything extra to the products, not even to flavor them.
Joe: We didn’t realize it at the time, but when we set forth those principles, we were creating a line of “Paleo Friendly Training Supplements.” It has proven to be more difficult taking this approach, but by doing so, it has enabled us to build a base of loyal customers who share our same values.
11) If someone uses Raw Tea for pre-workout, how is this different from caffeine pills?
Justin: Good question. For one, with a caffeine pill, you are getting one stimulatory ingredient for energy (usually in an extremely high dose). That’s it. Our Raw Tea has 13 synergistic ingredients which provide you with a multitude of other workout benefits including increased energy, focus, blood flow, and fat burning. That is something that caffeine pills alone cannot give you. Plus, don’t forget caffeine pills are not paleo friendly! You are still getting caffeine from our Raw Tea, but from whole food sources.
12) You have a product called Iskiate Endurance, first, how do you even pronounce that? Second, what inspired this particular product and how does that benefit us?
Joe: Karen, as you can imagine. We get asked this by almost every person we introduce this product to. The correct pronunciation is (is-KEE-ah-tay). This product was inspired by the tribal endurance drink of the Tarahumara. They are a tribe of super athletes from the Copper Canyon in Mexico known for their abilities to run for hundreds of miles without stopping. You may have heard of the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. This book gives the inside scoop on the Tarahumara, and their culture which has carried over into the modern running world today. Justin and I were designing the formula for our Intra Workout drink at the same time that I was reading that book.
Justin: It was just a perfect timing inspiration. No other Intra Workout endurance product on the market can say that it’s been used for hundreds of years by super athletes! It’s a proven formula used by the Tarahumara. Natural Force Iskiate Endurance has an added benefit twist however… We’ve added royal jelly and bee pollen to the drink recipe which adds more vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
13) How do you feel about companies that use “proprietary blends”
Joe: Proprietary blends exist to help protect a specific recipe or blend of ingredients from being copied by the next company, so in some sense they are good. When a company fails to disclose specific amounts of certain ingredients that the consumer may deem important to know for health reasons, then that raises some eyebrows. We certainly understand why companies do it, but we believe in letting our customers know exactly “what” and “how much” of each and every ingredient that is in our products. You will also notice that in our other ingredients sections on all of our labels it reads “none.”
14) What makes you the angriest about the current supplement market?
Joe: Probably the most frustrating thing is the marketing and claims made by many companies. They don’t reflect accurately on the actual products themselves, which is misleading to the consumer. I will not mention any companies, but some of the most recent examples I actually saw at 2014 Expo West in CA. In one ad I saw a company claiming that their vegan sport supplement shake product was 100% whole food based. After looking at the shakes profile listed on the company’s website, I was not surprised to find that this was certainly not the case. The product contained a full spectrum of vitamin powders ranging from vitamins A, B and it also contained flavoring. I fail to see how that is 100% whole food based. Granted, we are not an actual food either, but at least we are not dumping vitamin powders and flavoring into our products. Another company I saw at the show was marketing to the CrossFit community with their line of “natural sports supplements.” They had completely bogus studies on their table claiming that when their pre-workout was used vs a placebo, the subject was able to complete 17 rounds of a WOD containing a ½ mile run, 15 burpee plate jumps, 10 KB swings and 15 air squats in just 15 minutes. I would love to meet the person that did that! They Ran 8.5 miles in 15 minutes and not to mention all of the other stuff!!! This would not be possible for even the fittest person in the world to complete. It’s sad that companies stoop this low to take advantage of consumers and market their products this way. So, those types of things are frustrating, but as long as we stay true to what we believe in, we believe consumers will continue to see through other companys’ BS.
15) Where do you ship to?
Justin: We offer always free shipping on all domestic orders. We also ship internationally to Canada and the United Kingdom.
16) How were your products received at Expo East?
Justin: The last time we went to Expo East was actually 2 years ago. People were certainly interested, but the Paleo movement was still growing and not a lot of people understood why you would want a whole food based sports supplement. We knew we were onto something though, so we kept moving forward.
17) Where do you see Natural Force in 10 years?
Justin: Personally, I see us becoming a serious contender in the supplement market. The amount of people following a Paleolithic lifestyle is huge, and we are the only ones catering to their needs. We always set out to put our brand before anything else. From the beginning Joe and I always said we wanted to build a brand that people could trust and that is what we intend to do.
One other thing that I really want to pursue as we grow and become a more influential pillar in the community is consumer education. I want to help give people as much information as I possibly can about diet and nutrition to genuinely help them. This goes into my point that: yes, Natural Force has products that are considered Paleo Friendly. However, I want to reach consumers who may not know a thing about the Paleo diet. A lot of the supplements out there are just plain horrible for your body and the only thing you get from them is a flashy label and some kidney damage. I would like to develop informational programs to educate the everyday consumer as much as possible.
Joe: We have a great line of training supplements, but you have not seen everything from us yet. We have a ton of ideas in the pipeline and you will certainly be seeing more innovative products from us in the future. So, in 10 years, we see NaturalForce as the go to line of supplements for the Paleo athlete with a whole line of unique products that our customers can feel great about using.
18) Were there any questions that I failed to ask that need to be further discussed?
Justin: There are several other things we wanted to address:
Flavoring. We think it is extremely important to address and highlight the fact that we do not use any flavorings in our product whatsoever. We truly believe that adding flavorings to products of any kind is wrong. If you think about it, our taste buds exist as a defense mechanism for the body. If something tastes good, it is usually a good sign that it is a food that is okay for your body to consume. Things that taste bad usually tell us not to consume these things because they are bad for our bodies or may have some other negative effects.
I would like to compare this with taking pain killers. Pain mechanisms exist in our bodies to tell us that if something hurts, stop doing it. Taking a pain killer basically tricks your body, allowing you to keep doing whatever repetitive or harmful motion/activity you were doing before without the negative endocrine response, thereby causing further harm and stress on the body.
Joe: Understanding. The only thing that I would like to add in closing is that we hope people see and understand what we are trying to do. There are always going to be people following Paleolithic principles that don’t agree with taking supplements of any kind. We can respect that. What we set out to do is provide the most transparent products that we can, as well as provide the consumer with as much information as possible, so that they can make an informed decision.
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