Cory Gregory is a muscle-magazine cover model, co-owner of a Pataskala gym and co-founder of a fast-growing supplement company. The Granville man and Arnold Schwarzenegger have become friends, and Schwarzenegger is a spokesman for MusclePharm, the company that Gregory and former NFL player Brad Pyatt created in 2008.
February 27, 2014
There was no way that Cory Gregory was going to miss out on the chance to catch a glimpse of - and maybe even meet - his bodybuilding and entrepreneurial idol.
Asked to sell programs at what in 2000 was the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, the cash-strapped student and former coal miner instantly answered, "Dude, I'm in."
The "pay" was a ticket to the bodybuilding competition, which Arnold Schwarzenegger was scheduled to attend.
Gregory, now 35, did meet Schwarzenegger and has the photo to prove it.
Full coverage: Arnold Sports Festival
At this year's annual version of the world's largest multisports festival, Gregory will spend more than a few seconds with Schwarzenegger.
These days, Gregory is a muscle-magazine cover model, co-owner of a Pataskala gym and co-founder of a fast-growing supplement company.
The Granville man and Schwarzenegger have become friends, and Schwarzenegger is a spokesman for MusclePharm, the company that Gregory and former NFL player Brad Pyatt created in 2008.
This is the first time that the star of The Terminator and former California governor has put his famous first name on a line of supplements. Gregory produced a 16-minute promotional video starring Schwarzenegger that will be promoted during the sports festival, which runs today through Sunday in Columbus.
MusclePharm's sales totaled about $110 million last year, up from $3.2 million in 2010, and its products, including the new line of Arnold supplements, are sold in more than 100 countries.
Companies have been dangling lucrative endorsement deals in front of Schwarzenegger for years, said Jim Lorimer, director of the Arnold Sports Festival.
"Arnold was sufficiently impressed by these young people," Lorimer said of the pitch from Gregory and Pyatt. "He's been thinking about an Arnold product line for some time, and he likes the quality of what they offer and the partnership agreement."
A business analyst also has good things to say about the products.
"MusclePharm has tremendous momentum, and I see that continuing for the foreseeable future," said Brian Smith, a managing director of San Francisco-based Piper Jaffray & Co., an investment bank and asset-management firm.Coal miner's son
Gregory grew up in the Steubenville area, more interested in bulking up his biceps than in school. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were coal miners, and that seemed like his career track.
After high school, he landed a job at a now-closed coal mine near his home.
"It took 45 minutes to get down there; I was 7 miles in and 600 feet underground," said Gregory, who soon realized a life in the mines wasn't for him. He enrolled at Columbus State Community College in 1999 and earned a certification as an exercise specialist.
Gregory opened his first gym, T3 Personal Training in Reynoldsburg, in 2000 while still a student at Columbus State. In 2003, he joined with high-school friend Dustin Meyers and opened the Old School Gym in Pataskala.
Old School is filled with clanking metal plates, plus photos of Schwarzenegger and Gregory's magazine covers. The headline on Gregory's FitnessRx cover is "Super Dad Ultimate Ab Workouts & Diet" and features him with his children, Alex, 8, Madelyn, 6, and Anden, 2.
And, yes, Gregory's abs are quite ultimate.
In fact, his physique is what brought Gregory and Pyatt together. At the time, Pyatt was with Hard Nutrition and agreed to sponsor Gregory, a bodybuilding and weight-lifting competitor.
"We got to known each other, and one day he called and said, 'I'm starting a new company; are you in?'" Gregory said.MusclePharm grows
Although Pyatt and MusclePharm are based in Denver, Gregory insisted on remaining in Ohio to be close to his family in Steubenville. He works from an office in Newark and is the company's executive vice president. He's in charge of its social media and posts daily training tips.
MusclePharm's big break came in 2009 when it inked a deal to be a sponsor of the fast-growing Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Piper Jaffray's Smith said of MusclePharm: "Their growth has been tremendous." He said he expects sales to hit $150 million this year.
U.S. sales of vitamins, minerals and supplements were $32 billion in 2012 and are expected to reach $57 billion in 2020, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
Keys to MusclePharm's growth have been a varied product line, including a line of products for women, and now the Arnold line of supplements, Smith said. Its products include fish oil, amino acids and creatine.
Landing Schwarzenegger will help the company grow abroad, where the native of Austria is well-known, Smith said.
"And MusclePharm has been unique in its marketing," he said. "Cory, in terms of his following on Twitter and Facebook, has been tremendous, and they were the first to leverage social media to drive brand awareness."
MusclePharm products are certified by Informed-Choice, which tests products for illegal substances. The Arnold Sports Festival, which features a fitness expo with more than 700 exhibitors, bans illegal substances.
"We have a team of specialists who move through the booths and make sure the product lines don't have any banned substances," Lorimer said. "If we found any, we'd throw them out immediately."
MusclePharm paid $150,000 to be one of the Arnold's three diamond sponsors; the others are Hollywood Casino Columbus and Maximum Human Performance, another supplement company.
The three-year MusclePharm deal with Schwarzenegger was signed on July 26. According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, he will receive an undisclosed percentage of royalties from sales and 780,000 shares of company stock.
Schwarzenegger has a standing invitation to work out at Old School. "One day it will happen," Gregory said. "I'll watch his technique and learn from the master."