James Haskell on James Haskell's Health and Fitness
What inspired you to launch your own brand James Haskell's Health and Fitness?
The reason for launching the James Haskell Health & Fitness brand - www.jhbodyfire.com was all down to social media. I was consistently being asked questions about my physique; training techniques and some of the exciting things I was doing with the alternative sports I was exploring to help my overall game. So it seemed to make more sense to become proactive with people and put stuff out there, rather than be just simply be reactive.
I knew when I started my own fitness journey there was a mass of complicated and very often contradictory advice out there. So my goal was to create something which was simple to understand and critically, easy to follow. Young aspiring rugby players always want to know how the pros do it but sometimes they need to learn to walk before they run to make the very best of their development.
Has being at the top of pro rugby helped you push the boundaries of nutrition?
I think I’m very privileged to have access to a host of top nutritionists and experts in this very complicated field.
I have always strived to improve this part of my life; it’s something I’m constantly working on to get both a better understanding as well as the perfect diet!
By way of example, I’m working with some really good and innovative guys at the moment, called Aiden Goggins and Glen Matten, who are taking my nutrition to the next level. As said this is an area I am always constantly exploring and trying to improve upon.
Do you use natural ingredients as far as you can?
Yes the whole philosophy and the essential basis behind the James Haskell Health & Fitness supplement range, is we only feature and include all natural ingredients from GMP sources because being a drug-tested athlete, it’s essential I know precisely what goes into my products and that they are only ever about putting health and performance at the very core.
Then if that wasn’t enough as a complete belt and braces approach we have all the products individually batch tested by Informed Sports.
The simple and by far the cheapest option would have been to use cheaper products or even add in a few chemical enhancements. However I would never take them myself and as such would never expect others to try them either.
There are plenty of companies out there who don’t use natural ingredients so it’s no great surprise a lot of these products make it to the press with links to poor side effects and failed drug tests.
10% of all supplements are unintentionally contaminated anyhow, so why remotely take the risk to your health or career. My advice to aspiring athlete is never to take ANY supplements unless they carry the Informed Sport assurance certificate of safety and purity.
Many of your ingredients such as cayenne pepper and ginger have good research behind them?
These are two key ingredients I use in my supplement range. Both feature positively in my pre-trainer/fat burner Hades for men and Hella for women. I always use natural ingredients over synthetic ones because it’s far healthier and puts no user at risk. I also want my supplements to actually work, so have always aimed to use ingredients which are clearly supported and backed up with qualified and respected research.
The creation of my supplement range was done in conjunction with top nutritionists who know what works and what doesn’t work. This is the reason why in just under two years we have won no fewer than four top industry quality and recognition awards.
How did you come to decisions on what to put in – was there some trial and error?
Yes, of course, like anything we went back to the drawing board a few times because the creation of my supplement range was not about white labeling generic products. It was all about creating something special which I and my fellow players would personally use.
So we went out to the market, looked at what the competition did; undertook our own research and came up with what we thought was the best supplement with the ambition to be the market leader. If you don’t believe me, please have a look at some of our social media feed on www.jhbodyfire.com and read the amazing feedback.
Tell us about the taste?
For Hades and Hella there is no taste at all but for our virgin Coconut Oil Tagaloa we believe it is one of the best tasting coconut oils out there because like a fine wine, it comes from a single origin estate in what is commonly acclaimed to be the finest area for quality coconuts – the west coast of Sri Lanka.
The taste is creamy, subtle yet rich but it’s certainly not overbearing. This is the one concern which everyone initially has namely everything will taste of coconut. You don’t get that with our product. I use it across all forms of cooking as with its high burn points it’s probably the best cooking oil in the world or at least it is to me!
We also have a new 69 ingredient greens shake coming out, which we feel will taste superior to other products of a similar style out there in the market.
What do you do that no one else does?
We are not quite unique in doing this but certainly one of a very rare breed. We have all of our products Informed Sport tested which only a few other manufacturers do in the market because it’s a very expensive process plus you can only use the very best quality ingredients from GMP sources. Just too much expense and effort for most.
This means our products are able to be taken by members of the Armed Services and Olympic athletes who can’t take anything else but equally more and more by the person on the street who after all has a choice. All of them know there are no added third party chemicals so there is absolutely nothing which will harm them or make them fail a drugs test.
Some scientific research out there on nutrition seems to be behind the curve on what is working, would you agree? Course and degrees have not always caught up with the actual latest research?
I think nutrition and supplementation is a hugely expanding and evolving area. I believe it’s very difficult to keep fully abreast on all the latest trends and if you believe what you read in the papers you’ll be chopping and changing every 5 minutes.
So my constant advice is always to stay well away from fads and trends - you will be on the right path as one of the keys things we stress through James Haskell Health and Fitness is to focus on getting your diet right first, and then worry about supplements. We believe supplements as the icing on the cake, as distinctly opposed to being the be all and end all. There is never any substitute for not eating cleanly and well. Anything we do recommend is backed up by science.
Perhaps Pro athletes are the best kind of research for aspiring sportsman and amateurs?
I think that is probably correct because we have fantastic and regular access to all the latest techniques, supplements and advice. It’s well documented if you want to learn about developing your body and size - what works and what doesn’t you would go to a professional body builder over anyone else because they have been doing it for so long with great success.
The same applies in other areas of sport or research. Anyone who is lucky enough to get the right and best advice first, from the leading experts, is usually the best person to follow by way of example.
How do you ensure it is safe and uncontaminated for athletes?
We have it Informed Sport Tested, which means every order is individually batch tested. It’s very important for people to know and understand that the Informed Sport certification is NOT a blanket award like so many other accreditations. It is pretty unique in so far as every batch is tested so there is a complete guarantee as to the efficacy and quality of the product.
I use the product myself so as I am under constant and rigorous scrutiny by WADA. (World Anti-doping Association) I would never put anything into my body I didn't know was completely safe to use or hadn’t been individually tested.
So many people out there are at real risk by not paying this level of attention to the supplements they put into their bodies. You read in the papers all the time about serious side effects, even occasionally death, as a result of rogue third party chemicals found in supplements, which simply just shouldn’t be there.
People will be horrified to read just how easy it is to unknowingly take contaminated, dangerous and potentially harmful supplements.
Does it come from sustainable sources?
Yes, our Coconut Oil is ethically sourced and from a sustainable, accredited resource ensuring we are giving back to the people who farm the coconuts and help to sustain the environment.
You have clearly come from the athletes end of sport nutrition and worked out what works best for you and then worked backwards whereas much sports nutrition is about the bottom line and making profit (often full of cheap fillers for margins) – do you think it’s possible to do both?
I think it’s perfectly possible to achieve the key balance behind creating a reputable supplement range, which is entirely based around positive research and established test results and turn it into a successful business which helps people achieve their desired lifestyle goal.
Because I think people are now far smarter, more aware of the dangers and far better informed.
The days of doggy looking bags of product ordered unchecked over the internet are fading fast.
I would never have created the James Haskell Health & Fitness with just profit in mind because the supplement range was born out of my own personal requirements. I looked around at the supplements which are out there and didn’t see what I wanted. So I went away and created my own, which once I had thoroughly tested them and felt the benefits, I knew were good enough to sell.
How did you decide on price?
Obviously a lot of factors go into the pricing. The packaging, the requirement for only the highest GMP manufacturing practice. The requirement for high end natural ingredients. For example we have 28% L-carmitine in our product, whereas the industry norm is about 4%. The recurrent cost of the rigorous testing from Informed Sport to mention but just a few elements.
However finally it comes down to what people are prepared to pay for a product which they know is completely safe. What price do you place on your well-being?
Are there any other natural products/food that you admire or swear by?
I’m a big fan of Teapigs green tea. I start every day with a cup or two.
I love the Healthspan supplement range, which includes probiotics and fish oils. I also use H2O Pro Hydrate everyday, which is a brilliant re-hydration supplement.