July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Move over, Wheaties. Wall Street’s strongest man and woman will get to have their images emblazoned on boxes of chia power bars.
As part of a partnership with the annual RBC Decathlon, which crowns the top all-around athlete in the financial community, Health Warrior plans to incorporate the likeness of the two competitors with the best overall scores in the strength events on the nutrition product’s packaging.
The promotion is similar to that of Wheaties, the General Mills Inc. cereal with the slogan, “Breakfast of Champions.” Wheaties boxes have featured professional or Olympic athletes such as Lou Gehrig, Bruce Jenner, Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky dating back to 1934.
“It could be a fun little piece of glory for the weekend warriors,” said Jay Li, a 31-year-old equity analyst at Trafelet & Co. who finished third in last year’s decathlon.
This year’s 10-event competition will be held July 28 at Columbia University’s Wien Stadium in Manhattan.
The RBC Decathlon raised almost $1.3 million last year for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and 10 percent of sales proceeds from the Health Warrior chia bars bearing likenesses of the strongest man and woman go to pediatric cancer research.
“With our interest in finance as well as health and fitness, it seemed like a cool event to partner with,” said Health Warrior founder Dan Gluck, who launched the company in 2011 with Nick Morris, a former University of Pennsylvania football player and fellow partner at a New York hedge fund.
Gluck, who played tennis at Colgate University, and Morris, who was a safety at Penn, said they discovered the benefits of chia reading the best-selling book “Born to Run,” which documented the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and how they used the tiny black seeds to fuel ultra-marathon runs.
The two incorporated chia, which is rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, into post-workout meals for fuel, energy and nutrition. The benefits they experienced led them to convert friends, family and colleagues on Wall Street as chia users, and since finding a supplier in Bolivia they’ve invested more than $1 million in Health Warrior.
“There’s really a buzz about chia,” Gluck, who participates in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons, said in a telephone interview. “People are really focused on what they’re putting in their bodies these days. To have a genuinely healthy snack, people have really taken a liking to it. It’s pretty cool to see, if you go to some Wall Street firms you’ll see people with chia products on their desk.”
Gluck isn’t referring to the novelty Chia Pets that became popular in the 1980s with green chia sprouts coming off the back of a terracotta body. Chia was popular far before the catchy “Ch-ch-ch-chia” television commercials, having been used hundreds of years ago by the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas, Heath Warrior Chief Executive Shane Emmett said.
“It’s just making a comeback after 400 years,” Emmett said in a telephone interview.
Health Warrior’s chia products are now in more than 1,000 stores and the company’s sales were up 650 percent last year, when Whole Foods Market Inc. started selling its bars and seeds. Emmett declined to give specific sales figures.
Boxes of Health Warrior’s chocolate peanut butter, acai berry and coconut chia bars -- plus the apple-cinnamon, coffee and banana nut that are about to be introduced -- will soon feature Wall Street’s strongest athletes. The winners will be the male and female competitors who finish with the highest cumulative point-totals in their gender group in the bench press, pull ups and dips -- a triceps exercise using one’s own body weight. There are seven additional events to test speed, endurance and agility.
Craig Sheppard, a former UCLA running back who works on the leveraged loans sales desk for Citigroup Inc., said he might initially feel a little uncomfortable if his likeness were to end up on store shelves.
“It would be kind of weird seeing my face on the box,” said Sheppard, 26, who is competing in the Wall Street Decathlon for the first time. “I have friends who do health modeling and when you see them on commercials it seems kind of strange. But, since it goes toward a cause, it’s good.”
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