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By Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

Michael Russell concluded a 17-year ATP World Tour career at the 2015 U.S. Open and almost immediately turned his efforts toward giving back to tennis as a coach and entrepreneur.

One of his entrepreneurial efforts was to be part of the new gluten-free energy bar called “ArrowBar,” officially launched at Wimbledon in 2016 with Russell, top American pros John Isner and Stevie Johnson and fellow retired pro James Blake, serving as ambassadors for the product.

Russell told Lisa Stone of the “Parenting Aces” podcast that the launch of ArrowBar (www.ArrowBar.com) came after two-and-a-half years after three of his University of Miami friends Mark Arrowsmith, Andrew Golub and Rob Goldberg first contacted him about an idea of creating the energy bar. Russell, known of the ATP Tour for his fitness and attention to nutrition that helped him stay on tour for 17 years, tested and tweaked the product with the product’s co-founders before finally finalizing the ingredients.

“Three of my good friends, Mark, Rob, and Andrew, contacted me about two-and-a-half years ago, while I was still playing, and we talked about creating an energy bar,” Russell said to Stone. “They were really excited and said, ‘Tennis doesn’t have an energy bar, and we’d love to try to get into that environment. We think it would be a great business opportunity, what do you think?’ I was all for it, I agreed.”

Russell, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 60 in 2007, said he tasted every different nutritional bar but felt this was a space where they could create unique bar for athletes that provided key nutrients and ingredients that tasted well.

“A lot of the bars don’t have great flavors,” said Russell. “It took two years of testing and developing the bar, and I was instrumental in testing while I was playing, in and out of competition, and creating the ingredients, because all my chances of dealing with different bars, I wasn’t sold on a bar where I had one and thought, ‘You know what? This is really easy to digest, it tastes great, and getting all the nutrients.’ Finally, after two years of testing, I feel we had perfected it, we created ArrowBar, we just launched it, and it epitomizes that healthy lifestyle. It’s gluten-free, all natural ingredients, and it tastes great.”

For starters, ArrowBars are offered in two flavors Chocolate Chip and Honey-Cinnamon, with more nutritional and flavor lines being rolled out in the future.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” said Russell. “Every single athlete and every single non-athlete who’s tasted it, they love it. It’s easy to digest. I think it’s really going to be a big hit in the market, because it is, especially nowadays with everyone being so concerned with healthy living. We want to make sure we’re getting good ingredients and nutrients in our bodies, to help us perform not only on the court but just in our everyday lives. Everybody has hectic lives and stress in their lives and part of the ArrowBar mantra is, “Life is a sport, are you playing?” That just refers to that healthy lifestyle. You’re getting the right ingredients and right nutritional element and electrolytes to replenish the demands of everyday life, and I think we’ve done a great job of creating that. It’s taken two and a half years, which is a long time, but that’s what’s necessary to create a great product, and I’m really excited about it.”

ArrowBars are designed mainly for athletes who are in the middle of competition, such as eating the product during changeovers in tennis or during a round of golf, a marathon or any kind of exercise, including while running around during your everyday life.

“It gives you a lot of energy,” said Russell. “This is more geared towards creating the sodium potassium content, which is what you lose a lot when you’re on a court. This replenishes all these key nutrients and electrolytes, and it really helps you reach the finish line. I sound like a salesperson, but as long as I’ve been testing this bar for a long time, and we’ve been through a lot, and I’m really happy that we’ve finally got to the point where we’re at. I’m proud of it. It tastes phenomenal.”

Russell told Stone that he is a recent convert to the gluten-free lifestyle, that has been popularized by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. However, Russell says he is now “mostly-gluten-free” as it is almost impossible to avoid gluten in his international travels and everyday life. Having the ArrowBar be gluten-free was an important part of its creation.

“I was kind of one of those people who was really skeptical about the whole gluten-free thing, especially for people who didn’t have a proven allergy to gluten,” Russell said. “Why would you eliminate it from your diet if you’re not allergic or having trouble digesting it? But as a recent convert, I have noticed that I feel a whole lot better when I stay away from it. That was one of the major factors when we created this bar. Having a gluten-free bar, you’re not creating any problems that could potentially arise. Because I know gluten, a lot of times … I’m a little bit gluten-intolerant, or sensitive. I don’t have an allergy, but I do notice that when I have gluten, I feel a little more bloated, a little heavier in the stomach. Especially when you’re on the court, any type of exercise, you’re demanding, you’re running side to side, you don’t want to have that heaviness in your stomach. Now, all the blood that’s in your legs, working hard, it’s transferring all of a sudden to your stomach to try to break down what’s in your gut. That was a key element of the ArrowBar was having it gluten-free. Then, we also wanted to focus on sodium and potassium, because as an athlete, when you sweat, you’re physically working so hard, whatever exercise and sport you’re playing, you lose a lot of electrolytes and nutrients and we wanted to make sure that, as a bar, you’re replacing some of those, because a lot of those … A lot of athletes use drinks, but it’s still important to get the caloric intake from something that’s edible, that you can sustain a little bit longer energy and that was a key point of ArrowBar as well.”

Russell said making sure all the ingredients were all-natural and not include processed ingredients.

“ArrowBar wants to be an all-natural, healthy bar lifestyle, and that was, along with our mission, we wanted to create that energy bar that’s gluten-free, all-natural, and tastes great,” Russell said. “The last part, tasting great, was the most difficult, because when you add all-natural ingredients, it’s gluten-free, you create a bar but sometimes the taste isn’t there. You want to be able to eat something that you enjoy eating. It took a while to finally get those key ingredients that makes it great-tasting. Now that we’ve found that, I’m eating ArrowBars just as snacks. It’s light, it’s not heavy in my stomach, so it’s something I can take on the go, even when I’m not on the court. That’s what we’re really proud of and we’re getting in the hands of all the players and non-players because of the fact we’re able to create this gluten-free, all-natural, great-tasting bar.”

To listen to the entire one-hour interview of Russell by Stone, go to www.parentingaces.com/radio-show and https://youtu.be/_MWu09Wkx4Q.

 

Michael Russell with Gluten-Free ArrowBar Energy Bar

Michael Russell with Gluten-Free ArrowBar Energy Bar



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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