15th April 2014
I often get asked the question, “Where did you get the idea to start your company?” When people ask me that, I feel it’s hard to give a simple answer because it probably requires a longer answer than they want to hear in casual conversation. While on some level there is a simple answer to the question, there is a deeper and more personal reason I started Hyperice. Before I invented the device that I would name my company after, I did have a larger vision for what kind of brand I wanted to create. This vision was based on a common goal that I shared with the professional athletes I was coming into contact with. I wanted something as bad as they did- albeit for a different reason. But what was it? What did we ultimately want? Wait, let’s back up a second….
I hit the lottery by being born and raised in a coastal town in Southern California where you could play sports and be active year round. I started playing multiple sports at a young age and had little interest for school - like most creative people I know. I played high school basketball and baseball and continued to play the latter avidly during my college years and throughout my 20’s. By my late teens, I started working out regularly and was dedicated to my training, diet and overall fitness. Contrary to what I thought at the time, I didn’t train smart- thanks mostly in part to lifting too much and stretching too little over the course of 10 years. I neglected the most important parts of training for someone over 25- balance, stability, range of motion, and flexibility. As a result, all of my dynamic movement patterns that are essential for playing basketball had been severely limited. All the years of lifting heavier than I ever needed to had ruined my lower back- which set off a chain reaction of negative effects in my body. When your lower back shuts down, the whole body’s system of movement is completely compromised and you just can’t move well enough to do anything physically dynamic.
This was all happening to me at the same time as some of my friends and people in my network were playing collegiately and professionally. Me being curious and observant, I started noticing how much time and effort these professional athletes were putting into their recovery routine. I quickly saw the link between recovery and injury prevention and how the two are inseparable. It became clear to me that by taking the proper recovery steps, an athlete can significantly reduce the risk of injury and at the same time, better prepare his/her body to perform at the optimal level. I immediately saw how this was missing from how I had been living. If I wanted to get my body to function how it used to, I needed to start adopting some simple recovery and injury prevention practices I had been observing.
I knew there was no magic bullet solution to getting my body back to form, so I made changes in several areas of my lifestyle. I went gluten and dairy free in my diet, started doing yoga (on occasion) and foam rolling regularly to improve my flexibility. I also started icing after playing basketball or doing anything taxing on my body. Nearly all the professional athletes I knew iced regularly. Some would ice previous injuries, but most of them iced as a means of recovery and to prevent inflammation in the body. I iced very little in my playing days when I was young, but now in my late 20’s I started icing to help reduce inflammation after I played (which had become less frequent) and used the same technique as the professional athletes I knew- a plastic bag of ice and some form of wrap for compression. I found it odd that I was holding an iPhone in one hand (a marvel of modern technology) while icing my knees and back with plastic bags of ice. I began thinking of a better way to deliver this treatment knowing that icing was one of the pillars of athletic recovery. There were some devices on the market, but I figured if all these athletes were still using plastic bags- no one had really nailed it yet. I did some research on cold therapy and eventually came up with a simple idea for an air removal system that would become the heart of the device’s technology. I created and built a crude set of prototypes and brought them to an aerospace engineer (who I work together with to this day). It took us almost 2 years of navigating through the rough waters of product development before really getting the product right. We named the company after the device and I started seeding it with NBA and NFL players. What happened after that, and who it happened with will be the subject of future blogs I’m sure.
But what was the common goal I shared with the professional athletes? What was my grander vision for starting this company? …. We all want to move better. I want to move better so I can do all the things I love to do for as long as I can and to continue to lead an active and healthy lifestyle- like so many ordinary people. Professional athletes want to move better because it is an essential part of their craft, and livelihood. They want to move better because they want to perform better for as many years as they can so they can achieve all their goals- both as an athlete and to make as much money as they can for as long as possible. For me, I think there is a deeper fear inside me that someday I wouldn’t be able to do all the other things I did in my youth. We don’t stop doing the things we love to do because we stop enjoying them, we only stop doing them because eventually our bodies don’t move well enough to do them anymore. This is something you never even think about when you’re young, but when your body starts to fail you, those thoughts become permanent residents in your head. At some level, aging is the loss of movement over time. As I move forward, everything I create will be out of that fear of aging and the desire to keep doing the things that keep us young.
- Anthony Katz, Hyperice Founder