Entrepreneur’s supplements helps reduce work out ‘burn’

Carl Holmes (MBA ’82) says he owes his success to a freak Southern California snowstorm.

In 1987, he was an amateur triathlete in Marina del Rey, Calif., experimenting with supplements that could remove lactic acid (which makes you sore after working out). And he usually took them immediately before he’d run his typical 12-mile training jaunt.

But on this fateful morning, after taking his pills and stretching, he noticed the San Gabriel mountains draped in snow, so he opted for skiing. He made the 90-minute drive up the mountains and skied all day without “leg burn.”

“Something was clearly different,” he says. “The next weekend, I did the exact same thing I’d done, with the same result. I’d discovered something significant.”

It was all in the timing. Taking supplements an hour or so before he exercised helped him beat the soreness like he never had before.

Holmes explains that exercising initially causes the body to overproduce lactic acid. So supplements taken well before exercise raise blood lactate and trick the body into not producing too much lactic acid in the first place.

The result: harder, longer, faster workouts without any soreness (kind of like college without the classes).

But Holmes never followed up on it. “I had a day job and figured someone else would discover what I had and market a product,” he says.

Fast-forward 13 years later. Holmes was between jobs and trying to decide what to do next with his life. “I realized I had accumulated the skill set, and the courage, or delusion, I could develop the supplement idea myself.”

By 2001, he had SportLegs — a compound of minerals and a vitamin — on the market, and today Holmes reports it’s “selling like gangbusters” to cyclists and skiers and just starting to catch on for running, football and soccer.

Along with patience and persistence, Holmes credits his DU MBA.

“There’s no way I could have done this without the degree,” he says. “DU’s tuition came out of my pocket 25 years ago; I wish every investment I made generated such a significant return.”

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