Portland fit fix: How Revocycle is fueling an indoor cycling revo-lution

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I have a theory that there are two types of people who work out: those of us who “embrace the suck” and find solace in the burn of each rep or the quiet rhythm of breaths and footfalls during a run…and those of us who try to tune everything out and just push through the pain with the aid of numerous distractions.

Well, as much as I’d love to tell you I’m a member of the former group, I’ve got to admit that I’ve always tended to fall into the latter. That is, until I stopped into Revocycle here in Portland and had an experience that, quite literally, redefined my idea of a good workout.

In an attempt to mix up my cross-training, I decided to check out one of founder Michael Hosking’s early-morning classes a few weeks ago. He started off by helping each student find the proper bike fit, down to precise angles for a safe ride, while reminding us that our goal was to use excellent position and practice beautiful form in an attempt to notice the muscles and the movement and the breath.

Ohhh no, I thought as I started calculating my odds of getting noticed if I ducked out the door. This is going to be the longest 50 minutes of my life. 

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But after quashing those initial feelings of panic, I committed to opening myself up to the experience. After all, as Hosking explained, by paying attention to our bodies, pedaling exactly on the beat of song, tuning in to our breath and heart rate and engaging in mindfulness, we’d be maximizing the benefits of a cycling workout without putting ourselves at risk for injury.

And just because it’s not a loud, high-intensity workout doesn’t mean it isn’t tough; it just means you feel refreshed and rejuvenated after, rather than drained and exhausted.

“Finding the zone is about minimizing distractions,” he recently told Fitness magazine. “Music can help you do just that. If you focus on the rhythm and sync your pedaling or steps with the beat, you can help quiet racing thoughts. It’s moving meditation.”

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And how! For the first time ever, I wasn’t tempted to speak a peek at the clock; time flew by as Hosking expertly intertwined music with instruction, and before we knew it, we were all drenched in sweat, smiling from ear-to-ear and entering our cool-down.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my approach to working out while in PT these past few weeks. Namely, learning that some of my major muscle groups had gotten lazy and stopped functioning — and that I hadn’t even noticed — has made me realize the importance of awareness with movement.

Clearly, my body’s trying to telling me that disconnection won’t cut it anymore. Removing excess ‘noise’ (both literally and figuratively) in workouts and getting into a more authentic ‘zone’ — in which I’m working hard and totally engaged, yet feeling profoundly peaceful — is not only more relaxing, but also powerfully effective.

And did I mention pretty darn addicting?

Portland-Metro area residents, your first two classes are FREE. Visit Revocycle.com for more information and to register. 

Recipe: Almond Flour Chicken Fingers

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My friend Katie is currently on the Whole 30 program, and as we were swapping healthy recipes the other night, she mentioned this one as a family favorite. While I’m not quite convinced I am able want to follow a strict eating regimen (you’ll have to pry carbs and dairy products out of my cold, dead hands!), I’m always game for anything that can get Hubby and I out of our weekly baked/grilled chicken rut. And this one just so happens to be pretty darn awesome.

Almond Flour Chicken Fingers

(recipe adapted from GenYFoodie)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 packages boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (we didn’t have, so I omitted)
  • 2 eggs

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs, then set aside. In a shallow dish, mix together almond meal, paprika, cumin, cayenne, pepper, salt and garlic.
  3. Dredge each piece of chicken in egg, then roll in dry mixture to coat it completely. Repeat with each piece, arranging them all on baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
  5. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or chopped in a salad!

First prep the eggs in one dish, and measure out all the dry ingredients in another.

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Here’s what the coating looks like when it’s all mixed and ready for dipping.

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The almond flour helps create a wonderfully-thick breading, which will crisp up in the oven. These are all ready to go in for 25-30 minutes.

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And as an added bonus, the fat in the nut coating helps retain moisture for these little strips of goodness.

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One final tip: Make a double batch because they’ll disappear quickly!

Detroit Marathon: Week 15 training recap

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Big news this week! Hint: It rhymes with “funning.” ;)

Yep, I’ve officially been cleared to run. Ok, so maybe it’s twice a week for five minutes at a time on the treadmill, but I’m thrilled A) to be making forward progress, and B) to be getting stronger.

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My PT even said I had a crazy-huge grin on my face at my last session when I realized I wasn’t feeling my previous aches and pains. But, oh, does running feel different now that I’m actually using my butt muscles! Go figure.

Here’s this week’s schedule; I get anxious thinking of all this peak mileage I’m missing…but I’m thankful to be able to run, regardless of pace (and still mulling over race-day goals…other than the primary objective of finishing healthy).

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And below is my actual schedule; as you can see, I’m still hitting it hard with PT and trying to keep my cardio up through non-impact exercises. I’m also substituting some serious (for me) bike mileage for my long runs, which will hopefully help me maintain the strength and endurance needed for 26.2.

  • Monday: Spin class (60 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: Elliptical (45 min), Bosu stabilization drills & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Swimming (40 min, ~1500m), jog on treadmill (5 min), strength training & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Revocycle class (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Friday: OFF, Bosu stabilization & plyometric drills, PT exercises
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40-60 miles), PT exercises
  • Sunday: Elliptical or swim (45 mins), jog on treadmill (up to 15 min), PT exercises

Two other highlights from the week, since I’m trying to remain positive and goal-oriented:

First, I’m finding a swimming groove. Whether it’s that I’m trusting my leg again or regaining some fitness in the water, I was able to cut two minutes off my 1500m time from last week and five minutes from the previous week.

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And second is this shot from my weekend long ride, which is pretty self-explanatory. If you like fall — and running — as much as I do, then you’ll understand why (surprise!) fall running is one of my very favorite activities.

So even though it’ll be some time before I’m out logging miles on foot, I’m thankful to be able to enjoy this view from my bike in the meantime. Especially because my days of riding outside in the sun are numbered this season, according to what all the Portland locals are telling me…

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Next week my PT and I will have some decisions to make. I’m registered for the Portland Marathon half on October 5, but I’m not stuck on the idea of running (or even walk/jogging it) if it’ll jeopardize my chances of being able to run my full 26.2 later next month.

As much as I’d like to start building mileage again soon — probably more so to mentally prepare for a marathon — I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself. The last thing I want to do is undo all the work we’ve done so far, so I told my PT I’ll do whatever she says as long as it’ll get me to the starting line in Detroit, healthy and ready to run.

So stay tuned for week 16 as the countdown to race day continues!

Make exercise more fun with The Fitness Games

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After being sidelined from running for a bit, I’ve been on the lookout for alternative ways to fuel my competitive fire. Enter The Fitness Games, a new app that aims to make exercise as addicting as Candy Crush Saga.

Some background: I met founders Arya Farzin and Joseph Phillips, two nationally-certified trainers with a combined 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, at this year’s IDEA World fitness conference. Not only are they super-nice, extremely-passionate guys, but there’s a great story behind the creation of the app: Obese for most of his life, Arya decided to make a change when he was 19 years old. After losing 200 pounds, he made it his mission to help people all over the world make the same positive changes…and have fun while doing it.

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So here’s how it works: Instead of having to go it alone each day until my marathon training resumes, I can challenge anyone, anywhere, to any type of workout, post photos and videos to show progress, or simply challenge myself with one of the app’s workouts. What I love most, though, is that I can find a partner  — regardless of geography or time zone — to connect with via GPS so we can compete and track our progress in real time.

Whether it’s a virtual elliptical buddy (yep, I need some help staying on the machine for 45 minutes) or motivational match-up for some strength training, all I do is post the the workout I want to complete via the app dashboard. Other users respond if they are interested in doing the same workout, and then it’s go-time!

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Workouts are divided into four categories: Cardio, Strength, Full-Body and Cross Training. Each category operates on a unique scoring system that was carefully designed to determine how hard users exercised to determine the winner of each head-to-head contest.

Points earned during challenges can be used to level up, as well as unlock free workouts. And all workouts performed are tracked, scored and saved so users can see their progress over time.

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If you’re looking for a way to get motivated and make workouts a team effort, this is a simple, yet effective, tool for tricking yourself into being more consistent. And, let’s face it, there’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get us all stoked for that next sweat session, right?

Let the games begin!

This post was sponsored by The Fitness Games through their partnership with Fit Approach. I was not compensated monetarily, but was provided the Platinum Version of the application for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

How I Run: SweatGuru founder and ultra-runner Jamie Walker

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Jamie Walker is the CEO and co-founder of both SweatGuru, an online marketplace for fitness (disclaimer: where I work!), and Fit Approach, a wildly popular San Francisco boot camp, blog and online community whose “Sweat Pink” motto has inspired more than 5,000 global members and 20,000 monthly visitors to lead healthier lifestyles.

But when she’s not busy being the boss, you will more than likely find Jamie out running the trails like one. She’s an accomplished ultra-marathoner, yogi, trainer and all-around athlete, and it was because of her that I signed up — and completed — my first 50K this year…a mere two weeks after she rocked a 100-mile race.

It’s pretty clear that Jamie’s passion for health extends into everything she does, so I figured it was only fitting that we kick off this brand new interview series by taking a look at what makes this ultra-awesome woman tick:

1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route is anywhere with a good, long trail…and views. One of my favorite places to run is up on Mt. Tam. I love doing the East Peak Summit run, especially when it involves chasing sunrise.

2. What shoes do you wear? I rotate between Brooks Cascadias and Salomon Sense Mantras for trails and Asics Gel Kayanos for the road.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My Nathan hydration pack is my all-time favorite piece of running gear. I can pack everything I need and be a totally self-sufficient runner. Plus, it has been with me on some epic adventures (you can probably tell by the grime).

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I am an ultra runner who believes that all training should be efficient. I don’t slog the “recommended” number of long miles every day or weekend, I do what I can when I can. Running isn’t my job and shouldn’t feel like one. I like to go get lost on the trails and am perfectly satisfied when I put miles in, however many I can.

I’m not a lazy runner, though. I keep a consistent base of fitness and challenge myself with interval training, strength training and yoga. I truly believe that if you build a strong body, you can put in the miles. And to build a strong body, you need to differentiate your workouts. This holds true for any sport.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I don’t know if I’m better than anyone at anything, in particular. But one thing I’m super proud of is my ability to shut it all out. I try not to get caught up in pace, splits, and other runner frenzy (anxiety). I run for me and find my zen through running.

6. What do you listen to while running? The sounds of nature and the voices in my head. ;)

7. What are you currently training for? I’m running Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler in about a month which is one of my all-time favorite races. I’m also doing another Ragnar Relay, which should be a blast.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Recovery…what’s that? I don’t have a specific training plan, as I said before. I try to keep a consistent base of fitness and listen to my body. I try to mix up my routine — between running, yoga, weights, bootcamp — and through that find a way to stay active without overdoing it! Sleep, well, let’s just say that’s something I’m really working on lately!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? The best running advice I have ever received is “forward progress, just keep moving…” In fact, this has become my own personal mantra. It’s true for running, life and even my career. Everything is all about continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? I think my fondest memory to-date is crossing the finish line at my first ultra – the Dick Collins 50 miler – I was in so much pain and barely hobbling towards the finish, but as soon as I saw it, my body allowed me to give it every last ounce and sprint in through the finish. It felt amazing. I remember laying down in the grass almost immediately and just relishing in my accomplishment.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. Kelly Ripa. She’s probably pretty fast and would be fun to talk to out on the trails.

Thanks for playing, Jamie! 

Runner friends, please give me a shout (info (at) kineticfix.com) if you’d like to be featured!

Detroit Marathon: Week 14 training recap

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So as not to bury the lede, I’ll start with the bad news: I’m still not running. And I had to back out of the Ragnar Napa relay this weekend as a result. It’s one of my few DNSs (Did Not Starts) to-date, which smarts, as does feeling like I’m letting my team down. But I keep telling myself to, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” because I’ve got to keep a long-term perspective.

Which brings me to my good news: PT is going well. So well, in fact, that I was able to slowly add in some impact exercises a few times this week to start testing how my leg is healing. No, we’re not back up to those 10-mile track workouts or tempos by any means, but I’ll take a few minutes of nearly pain-free skipping and jump-roping any day. Progress!

Here’s what would have been:

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And what actually was:

  • Monday:  Elliptical (45 min), physical therapy & massage
  • Tuesday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Revocycle class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Friday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 50 mi) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: OFF (cheering Hubby on in his triathlon!)

With the focus still off running, I’ve been wanting to bring more regular weight training back into my weekly workout regimen, but that will most likely be on hold for a few more weeks.

My PT has been keeping me busy with daily strength and stability exercises to keep my core working and my glutes firing, and if all goes well, I may (fingers crossed) get to do a little walk-jog work next week. Until then, it’s all about the Bosu.

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Other than that PT progression, there were two major highlights since last week’s training update: First was the 45-mile training ride I went on with my friend, Kevin. He pushed me further and faster than I’ve ever ridden before, but I loved every minute of it.

The weather was that perfect mix of summer sun with fall crispness in the morning, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to challenge myself mentally and physically while remaining run-less.

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The second, well, every time I tell this story to a non-runner, I get blank stares…but as a total #runnerd, I’m still excited about it. While we were out cycling Sunday, I saw a petite blonde woman running on the other side of a deserted stretch of road. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her until I was already past her.

Then it hit me: It was Shalane Flanagan, one of the top American long-distance runners.

You may remember her from the Boston Marathon this spring, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about her again with respect to the upcoming Berlin Marathon (hint: she plans on breaking the American marathon record). But, regardless, it was thrilling to have a passing encounter with one of my running heroes, so I’m taking it as a good omen as I enter the final month before my own marathon.

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Thanks, as always, for following along as I count down to race day, October 19. Now, onward to week 15!

Q&A with Alex Schmotter, founder of the world’s first alkaline sports drink

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Let’s get one thing straight: Sports drinks today aren’t exactly health food. Sure high sugar content, artificial dyes, preservatives and chemical additives are bad enough, but it’s the acid content (100 times more than coffee!) that can really affect our health (tooth decay) and performance (muscle fatigue).

Enter PHenOH 7.4, the first sports drink that helps the body maintain its natural alkalinity, allowing us to perform at our best for longer.

Founder and CEO Alex Schmotter, a lifelong athlete with a passion for health sciences, developed the product after realizing the lack of a healthy alternative to traditional sports drinks. He also happens to be one of Hubby’s dental school buddies, so I thought it’d be fun to sit down and chat about how he balances running a successful business with pursuing his DDS degree!

KineticFix: Welcome, Alex! So, how’d you get the idea for an alkaline sports drink, and why is it so beneficial for athletes? 

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Alex Schmotter: I was in the process of applying for dental school, so I had teeth on my mind, and at the same time I was brainstorming research topics for my senior research at Cal Poly. Being an athlete with a background in biology and a strong interest in dentistry, I began researching the detrimental oral affects that sports drinks have.

Most people don’t understand that acid is the direct cause of tooth decay, so I decided to conduct my senior research on the topic. And the more I learned about the acidity of sports drinks, the more I discovered that their negative effects aren’t just on teeth, but also on physical performance and overall health.

Sports drinks are about 30,000 time more acidic than blood. This is especially important for athletes because when we exercise we naturally produce acids. Our bodies are amazing machines, and we are very good at getting rid of this acid, but there comes a point that we produce acids faster than we can get rid of them, which can adversely affect performance.

KF: You’re currently in dental school; how does your work with Phenoh 7.4 fit in with that?

AS: Teeth are where this all started. I was out for a bike ride one day in undergrad, and I’m riding along drinking my sports drink thinking about how I’m drinking it. I notice that I put a little bit of this bright blue fluid into my mouth, swish it around for a few seconds, swallow, and then repeat the process. It doesn’t take being a dentist to know that this is terrible for your teeth.

Having such an interest in oral health, I wanted to understand the justification for sports drinks being so acidic. I thought that if the acid is destructive to our teeth, then it must be very good for us in other ways to justify being in sports drinks, but the more research I did the more obvious the problem became.

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KF: Describe a typical day; I’m interested in how you balance it all!

AS: Well I don’t do it alone, first of all. I have a great team behind me now, and that’s crucial. I have learned to feed off of the positive support that I have gotten from my family, my friends and some great advisers.

In terms of a typical day, though, I sleep between 4 and 5 hours a night. I usually set an alarm for 6 a.m. I wake up, get ready and head to a coffee shop to work before school. I try to get a few hours of work in before clinic. It’s actually great working this early in the morning because retail store buyers are up early to prepare before the store opens.

Then I go to clinic or class. I work with patients all morning, and during that time I’m really pretty unavailable. This is where it is to important to be able to trust the people you work with.

We get an hour off for lunch, so I usually sprint to the coffee shop around the block and catch up on emails or take a phone meeting. I try to schedule phone meetings for 1-2 p.m. every day, because this is the time of the day that I know I am available and that both the West and East Coasts are within normal business hours.

At 2 p.m. I go back into clinic were I’m with patients again until 5 p.m. After cleaning up, writing notes, calling patients, etc. it is usually 5:30 or 6 p.m., and this is when the work day really starts for me. I would say that Wei-Ken, our company president, and I have most of our company-defining moments after the midnight hour. There’s no such thing as 9 to 5 at a start-up!

Someone told me once that the key to a successful business is “people by day, papers by night.” I agree with this — that during the day it is important to speak with as many people as possible in the restraints of their working hours. And during the ‘off’ hours, I get to express my creativity, make a game plan, develop new products, etc.

KF: It’s been four years in the making; can you tell us a bit about what went into creating your product? 

AS: Ten years ago, a “curious kid” would not have had the resources to do what I did. Today we have access to any information in the world at the tip of our fingers. We have online databases full of unfiltered, scientific literature prepared by masters in their respective fields. I was able to pull information from every discipline of science to get a true understanding of the big picture — thereby giving me the opportunity to develop a solution that “bridges the gaps.”

Phenoh 7.4 is made with just seven natural ingredients, and each one is in there at a very specific concentration for a very specific purpose, based on what the research shows we need for maximal function. We redefined the sports drink on every level, not just the alkalinity. For example, we make our product with organic aloe vera — not only for the essential nutrients that it provides to help us rebuild after stress, for also for its anti-inflammatory effects, ability to reduce post-exercise pain and boost to the immune system.

The real time, however, has not been on the product development, but on building the business. Taking a concept to market with zero business experience is no easy task. I have made many mistakes and will probably make many more. I have, however, developed an incredible network that is proving extremely helpful in spreading word of this new product.

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KF: You’re a self-taught businessman, and I’d argue there’s no better MBA than starting your own company! So what are three things you’ve learned in the process? 

AS: As you know, my background is in science — so other than a few lemonade stands as a kid, I came into this with zero business experience. Starting a company as a one-man show, you wear a LOT of hats. I gave myself the google.com crash-course in just about everything, and learned a lot from friends, but if I had to give just three things that I’ve learned, I’d say:

1. If you do not know something, learn it. If you are in a situation where you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask. I spent the early days of this thing splitting time between developing the graphics, building a production systems plan, writing my first provisional patent, learning about types of seed round financing, learning about quality control compliance regulations for producing a consumable product, building basic marketing and distribution campaigns…the list goes on.

2. Take on an attitude that if you do not do something, then it will not get done. In business, there is a lot of talk. I still believe that most people genuinely want to help and want to see your vision succeed, but we are all very busy and without an ingrained sense of urgency, people and businesses do not always take action in the way that they say.

For me, this experience was true in situations with friends coming on board to help with the operations and not understanding how much time and effort goes into building a business, all the way to giant corporations promising results and not following through on their agreements. In business, everyone is working on leverage. Be persistent. Stay positive, and push push push.

3. Know who you are. This may be the most challenging initial process of starting a brand. Can you explain it to someone? Will they understand? It doesn’t do a whole lot of good having a “great-freaking-product” if you are the only one who understands it. This should be an exercise performed by every new business entrepreneur.

My suggestion is that you go out and talk about it. Talk about it so much that there is not a single question you don’t have an answer to. Find your brand identity. Think about your brand’s immediate-, short-, and long-term goals, and write them into your business plan. Then don’t lose sight of those ideals!

KF: What are your favorite ways in which to stay active — that is, where & when do you drink Phenoh 7.4?

AS: Exercise is a part of my life. I can’t go without exercise, or I just feel off. I’ve always run outside, and throughout college I played team sports (Alex was an All-American collegiate lacrosse player) and went to the gym daily. I still like to go to the gym, but nothing can replace being outside — whether it’s running, biking, hiking, water skiing, snow skiing, etc.

After dental school, I would love to get back into lacrosse and soccer. But for now, you can find me at the Lyon Street staircase or running down Marina Green!

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KF: Where do you see Phenoh 7.4 5-10 years from now?

AS: Phenoh is a lifestyle brand, and Phenoh 7.4 is our flagship product. The benefits of the concept of Phenoh 7.4 extend to everyone, not just while we are exercising. We want to teach and we want to offer information and healthy products.

We also plan to build philanthropy into our core values. My dad and I have been doing dental philanthropy trips, and last year we did three where we went to Mexico and provided free care for the Huichol Indians. We want to use Phenoh to build similar prevention and care programs around the world.

KF: Finally, what would you say to people who haven’t tried an alkaline drink yet but are open to the idea of trying one?

AS: Don’t be scared! People expect that an alkaline alternative beverage is going to taste like soap, or something awful… Give it a try and see for yourself; it’s very refreshing!

We like to think of ourselves as the Tesla of beverages — at first, consumers were interested in Tesla because it was an electric alternative to internal combustion engines, but now it’s becoming a norm. Phenoh products are the same; while our defining characteristic is the fact that we are alkaline rather than acidic, it is only one of the reasons that we offer a superior product.

It’s also important to note that we aren’t an alkaline water — we are an alkaline flavored beverage, and we are the first of our kind. It’s not just sports drinks that are acidic. If you see something in a bottle, and its not alkaline water, you can assume it’s acidic. This acidity is a serious problem, and that’s why were offering Phenoh as a viable solution.

Intrigued yet? Check out Phenoh 7.4’s website here for more info!