If you dug into the deep darkness of the back of your cabinets, would you find a long-expired tub of protein powder? It’s chalky and the flavor tastes nothing like it’s supposed to. There’s also a peculiar aftertaste that lingers far longer than welcomed.
Ten years ago, a small group of people in Salt Lake City set out to change this. Their goal was to make natural sports supplements for the functional athlete that actually taste good. They wanted to avoid crowding the back-of-the cupboard and at the same time, offer a product that helped people explore their potential. Enter Gnarly Nutrition and its CEO Eli Kerr.
The Foundation of Gnarly Nutrition
For a decade before Eli began the Gnarly story, he worked as an outdoor recreation therapist serving adolescents in Utah. He specialized in using the outdoors as a way to bring focus, confidence and instill better coping mechanisms during an often challenging stage of life. Serving as an amphitheater for learning experiences that build resilience, Eli found outdoor sports was a great way to not only help adolescents deal with everyday life, but teach them the benefits of flow state. Eli carried this into his founding of Gnarly, designing a product lineup that helps athletes facilitate their potential.
“Flow experiences are when you are performing at your potential,” Eli explained. “It's where your skill set and your challenge meet at the right place and it puts you in this place of optimization.”
This state is one where the rest of the world melts away. It’s being in the exact current moment and nowhere else. It's a mental state where we’re at our most creative, focused and we tend to outperform what we think we’re capable of.
“I want people to experience flow state because I know the power and the potential it creates for them as an individual and as a whole community,” Eli said. “Our product doesn't necessarily help you get into flow but the brand encourages people to become their best and we believe that the outdoors, sports, training etc, all help to facilitate opportunities for flow and progression. Our products are here to support you in creating more of those experiences.”
When Gnarly entered the supplement market, the majority of products on the market focused on weight loss, fixing a perceived weakness or massive gains. This was the antithesis of Gnarly’s goal. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no correct weight for the body of an athletic person.
Regardless of sport, both spending time in a flow state and exploring more of our power as self-efficacious human beings is like dumping a bucket of water into a trough of life fulfillment. No supplement or magic pill can directly influence how fulfilled we feel, but Eli explains that Gnarly’s goal is to be around to help facilitate the activities and adventures that can get us there.
A science-centric approach
Three years after Gnarly started, the team brought on Shannon O’Grady as the Chief Product Officer. Shannon holds a doctorate in biology and has worked in the dietary supplement industry for over 20 years. Her expertise in nutrition changed almost everything about Gnarly’s products. Since Shannon joined the team, the product lineup has tripled in size.
“She's brought on this heavy emphasis on science, research based products and a focus on education, making sure that we provide really valuable education that helps empower folks to make their own choices,” Eli said. “We started Gnarly because we saw a gap that nobody was serving sports nutrition in the outdoor industry which meant that not a lot of people were familiar with how to use these products or how to implement them into training.”
Shannon’s area of expertise bridges this gap by steering Gnarly in the direction of producing science-backed products and then putting education at the forefront so athletes can carry that knowledge into deciding which products will help them find optimization.
While the FDA regulates and monitors the world of nutritional supplements, Gnarly wanted to go a step further in creating trustworthy products. All Gnarly supplements carry an NSF certification that indicates the ingredients listed match exactly to the contents in the product. Going one step further, many Gnarly products are NSF Certified for Sport which means the products are safe for athletes whose sports require drug testing.
Pushing Your Possible, while Gnarly Does the Same
The slogan “Push Your Possible” shows up often with Gnarly. We often let doubt creep in and start to underestimate our abilities. The Gnarly team and lineup of products aims to allow everyone to push their possible.
The Gnarly team also holds themselves accountable when it comes to pushing the possible. The harsh reality of offering any consumer product is that it contributes to the massive world of consumerism. To help negate that impact, Gnarly has taken steps to use sustainable packaging and move away from plastics, instead utilizing glass and recyclable steel.
“We know it’s not perfect, but we’ve worked to create a much more sustainable packaging system that we hope inspires our customers to make a difference and sets an example for competitors to step up their gaming and do something that's less harmful to the environment,” Eli said.
The Future and a Promise
There’s no one-size fits all athlete. We all choose different activities, different training plans and choose which supplements help us perform to the best of our abilities. The Gnarly team is rooted in the mission of providing clean nutrition that tastes good for whatever adventure suits you. The pillars are to help people find
fulfillment, more confidence and feel more capable of dealing with life’s challenges. But with this comes a promise of high quality products with flavor profiles that actually taste good, otherwise they just earn a spot in the dark corner of your cupboard.
Gnarly has grown in its soon to be 10 years of serving more than the outdoor athlete, but anyone who's looking to Push Their Possible. Exploring potential, experiencing life in a flow state and honing in on self-efficacy serve as the baseline that Gnarly hopes to offer its athletes.