83. Steve Liberati | Steve’s Paleogoods

83. Steve Liberati | Steve’s Paleogoods

In the episode, Jason Ackerman sits down with the one and only Steve Liberati. As the head caveman for Steve’s PaleoGoods, Steve is always on the hunt for the healthiest way to eat, live, and give back to his community. Never satisfied, Steve works tirelessly to find the best ingredients on Earth to fuel himself, his athletes and the entire paleo/primal and CrossFit community. He is the driving force behind every new product and the real-life equivalent of the Swedish Chef!  

His original passion is his labour-of-love non-profit, Steve’s Club, which offers fitness coaching, nutritional guidance and mentorship to at-risk youth. In fact, the first PaleoKit was made for the athletes of Steve’s Club. Steve is a competitive CrossFitter who eats according to Paleo principles (although he makes exceptions for coffee ice cream!) and takes great pride and joy in running Steve’s Original, Steve’s Club Camden, and CrossFit Tribe. More than anything, he loves chasing his son Dominic and daughter Gianna around the backyard.  

Steve’s favourite PaleoGoods are the Coconut PaleoKit and Grass-Fed Paleo Stix, and he never misses a bowl of PaleoKrunch (with coconut milk) to keep him charging along.

Time Stamps:

  • Building a business through Crossfit (7:44)
  • Selling jerky wasn’t just to help the kids it was the kid’s idea (14:10) 

Google:

Brian Chontosh

Steve online:

Where to get the jerky:

https://www.stevespaleogoods.com/

Instagram:
@stevespaleogoods
@stevesclub

Recommended book:

Healthy Gut, Healthy You: The Personalized Plan to Transform Your Health from the Inside Out by Dr. Michael Ruscio

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Jason Ackerman:
Welcome back, all of you, best hour of their day fans. We hope you enjoyed yesterday's interview with Joe Tepe., owner of the strip Crossfit,. I have an OG. An absolute legend in the Crossfit, world on today's podcast. His name is Steve Liberati. If you've never heard of Steve. Chances are you've never been to the greater New Jersey area. We talk all about New Jersey, New York, the Northeast. But you've probably seen some of Steve's products and they're available all over the country now at Whole Foods, at Sprouts and other grocery stores. Steve's Palo Goods. What's super cool about today's interview is. I met Steve. Hard to believe. Over 10 years ago now when he would literally show up to competitions to the local, regional or sectional events back in the day that happened in my boxes, Albany Crossfit, parking lot with baggies of jerky, literally Ziploc bags of jerky of what would eventually become his paleo crunch. He eventually started showing up with salad dressings. And it's just an inspirational story of someone that worked hard, did things for the right reasons, and ultimately was able to grow his business tremendously. But he still does it for those same values to give back to the kids in Camden, New Jersey. Steve's club is still helping kids and it's really awesome to see. So enjoy this interview. We're going to take you through the whole lengthy story of when Steve started, when we've met the impact he's had on his region of New Jersey, how he's gotten into some of these bigger chain grocery stores and what that's meant for him as an individual, as a business.

Jason Ackerman:
And, of course, as a Crossfit, affiliate , I'm super proud of Steve. Every time I go into Whole Foods and I see his product, it excites me because it just is so inspirational to me. It just shows what hard work, what dedication and what. Following your dreams can do. I am someone that always believes in quit your job. Forget about that eight hour time suck of something you hate and go do something that makes you happy. I'm forty one years old and I was lucky enough to be able to do that my entire life. You know, I went from being a college graduate to a personal trainer, making eight dollars an hour at Gold's Gym to eventually owning three Crossfit, affiliates and achieving so much more. And it was a grind. It was a hustle. There was a lot of days where I question why I was doing it, how long I can continue doing it for. And Steve's no different. And I hope that if you listen to this podcast, we inspire you. You know, it's not as easy as I make it sound to quit your job, to leave your crappy relationship, to talk to your family about the problems you have. But I hope that we give you just a little bit of inspiration when you listen the best hour of their day. And if I can help one person change their life, that makes me happy.

Jason Ackerman:
And Steve Liberati has helped thousands of people change their lives. So it's my true pleasure and honor to bring to you this interview with Steve Liberati.

Jason Ackerman:
All right, Steve, do you remember when we met?

Steve Liberati:
Yes, I do.

Jason Ackerman:
Well, OK, I didn't. So tell me where we met.

Steve Liberati:
It was a long time ago. Many, many years ago now, I believe it was at the at the Crossfit, regional event at your place. So Albany Crossfit, in probably like two thousand and ten owners say 2011. If my memory serves right,.

Jason Ackerman:
You had a team. Was Denise Thomas on your team?

Steve Liberati:
Yes. Correct.

Jason Ackerman:
OK. So is like Denise was Lee on the team?

Steve Liberati:
Yes.

Jason Ackerman:
And who are your guys?

Steve Liberati:
It was Pat Burns who.

Jason Ackerman:
Was the guy with the tribal tattoos?

Steve Liberati:
Yes.

Jason Ackerman:
He blew out his Achilles, didn't he?

Steve Liberati:
He did. Yes, correct. See, Crespo.

Jason Ackerman:
All right.

Steve Liberati:
And my 15 seconds of fame was beating Austin Malleolo, in a workout.

Jason Ackerman:
You beat him in an individual workout?

Steve Liberati:
Yes.

Jason Ackerman:
Which one of the three clean jerks?

Steve Liberati:
No, it was actually thrusters and pull ups and pull ups were on a pole on a rig that was swaying back and forth. We all had to sign waivers as saying that if we die, Jason Ackerman, not responsible in any way.

Jason Ackerman:
Bet, I know I wrote about that in the new book. And I've had a lot of people, you know. What's his name from Long Island? He goes by Todd Tyler. He goes by Tom Todd Tyler. Something on Instagram? No, Tyler McBride.

Steve Liberati:
Well, yes, I do, actually. Yes.

Jason Ackerman:
So he complained still to this day that I cost him a spot at the games because the lanes were uneven on the sled push. I think that was the next year, though.

Steve Liberati:
I remember that as well.

Jason Ackerman:
So you and I go back pretty far then after that, after you did beat Austin in that workout. You. You had us up to. New Jersey or down to New Jersey, I guess.

Steve Liberati:
Well, after I beat them, I retired, that's all. That was my thing.

Jason Ackerman:
You got gonna go out on top. You know, I'm reading about Muhammad Ali right now. You stayed on too long. You. You did it right. You got your way out of there, you know, in the big you know, other than you've been involved in a very long for a very long time, you have to really cool things about you. You related to Crossfit, is that you're like the first food company that came out of Crossfit,.

Steve Liberati:
Yes.

Jason Ackerman:
I mean, you're really the first company. Is that true? Did it? Was there anyone else doing anything before you?

Steve Liberati:
I believe it was. There was other companies side. We definitely were not the first company. I believe that maybe the first food company, it was awesome paleo treats. But I remember there was a call me like a t shirt company called Forged.

Jason Ackerman:
Oh, yeah. Forged was our baby. Maybe sin was around back then after brutality.

Steve Liberati:
I think he was after year round that time.

Jason Ackerman:
But I mean, you were the first true Crossfit, entrepreneur. Did did you have an entrepreneurial background prior to that?

Steve Liberati:
Not really. I do remember, though, going to the second Crossfit, games, just having a vendor village. That was it was really us and maybe three other companies.

Jason Ackerman:
You know, it's probably like as our extra life is our acts. You know, those companies.

Steve Liberati:
Mcgregor, we sold out in like the second day and we just stood around all day on the last day and watched all the events. So it was like, perfect.

Jason Ackerman:
And you're really one of the only ones still around, though.

Steve Liberati:
There's a few, but not many.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah, I mean, and thriving. I mean, I think I text you this is probably gonna make two or three years ago, I remember the first time I saw your stuff and like a Whole Foods and I was like, holy shit. Steve has done it like he's in Whole Foods, like it was the you know, like the granola. And I was like, wow, this is. I was just taken aback. And to me, it was so cool down like a friend and this small little company. And I was not like in New York at the time. It was I forget where I was. It was like across the country. And I was like, wow, he's done it. So did you do any. Were you an entrepreneur prior to Crossfit?

Steve Liberati:
Prior to that Not necessarily. I did work with my dad's exterminating company, and that's where I first started Steve's club. So I did learn a lot from him. Got a lot of first hand experience. My dad taught me a lot. I went to business school at university and got some of a textbook business background. But really and looking back, wasn't very, very useful. Does that experience.

Jason Ackerman:
Yes. Having that conversation with someone recently, how he wished he hadn't gone back to learn business. And I said, why you're so successful now? Who's to say if you went to school, you would've taken the same risks you might have tried to be to buy the books?

Steve Liberati:
That's true. And also, I think a part of it is learning what you don't want to do. I think that's that's a that's half of it.

Jason Ackerman:
You didn't want to be an exterminator the rest of your life?

Steve Liberati:
No. I came out of I studied economics and did finance and work for a big, big bank, having a really, really cool title and having to wear a shirt and tie and made my parents really proud. But that's you know, I quickly realized that that's not what I want to do. I didn't want to be on the corporate treadmill and sit behind a desk and try to compete with people a lot smarter myself. And that we're willing to work till 10:00 at night when it was like four fifty nine. I was ready to bounce. I love to go out there and work out and, you know, live life.

Jason Ackerman:
So you were your parents set when you left that in order to start a paleo company? I mean, at the time, paleo wasn't a buzzword. Your parents probably had no idea what that meant.

Steve Liberati:
Parents, I had to give them credit. They were very, always very, very supportive. Wheel side. My brother and my sisters always went through different phases and had crazy ideas. Zero is pretty supportive. So they were like super disappointed when I first started Steve's club. So before two years before starting a food company, there were a little taken back. There were definitely a little worried. They were kind of they were short the direction I was go with it. And they were just concerned about my safety, just being in Camden after hours, working with these, you know, kids in the inner city. So that was definitely they didn't know what kind of career that will lead to. So there was a lot of questions there.

Jason Ackerman:
So. So let's make it clear. If Steve's paleo goods, which is the food company. But anyway, Steve's club, which started a little earlier. And for those that don't know Camden, New Jersey, that's like the homicide capital of the United States. It isn't the most dangerous city in the country.

Steve Liberati:
I don't know if this does the title.

Jason Ackerman:
Because you fixed it up. I'm solely responsible. No, I think it is especially one of the top cities. It's it's actually it's a really small city. It's only 10 square miles. Oh, yeah, it's it's definitely not a very nice place to grow up in of drugs and gangs and violence.

Jason Ackerman:
So what made you leave corporate America to basically open a gym to help troubled youth?

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, I first started work on my dad in pest control and I thought I was gonna take over, take him to a company and start delegating and boss and people around beyond my desk. And he laughed. He's like, now you have to get out there, learn from the bottom up. And he gave me a route working in the tough neighborhoods of Camden Section 8 housing complexes. And that's where I started. I got I got meet a lot of kids and I mean kids. I was kind of surprised. I thought these kids had just bad attitudes and they were just kind of like lack of better word, just kind of punks. And they go to find out, you know, it's not what I was expecting. And a lot of my stereotypes were wrong. Really good kids, good attitudes, good head on her shoulders. Smart kids, very athletic. And that's when I kind of I saw I saw the need to kind of start something to help them out. And that's given the guidance they needed to get to the next step instead of my path.

Jason Ackerman:
So what was the path for you from meeting these kids on my route as an exterminator to. I now have a box where the kids are welcome to come and train.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. Well, there a few steps before that. So before I even had a Crossfit, box, I was just I was really I just found Crossfit, dot com. I was on the message boards and at this time. At the time. Keep in mind, it was very underground. So there wasn't I don't recall actually. I don't think there was any affiliates in the nearby area. There might have been one. It was at Crossfit,, Philly. And the guy. I don't believe he no longer runs it. He was a guy. I think Jason and Pam, they end up getting the. But there were that the first Crossfit, in the whole tri state area.

Jason Ackerman:
I mean you had to leave the state to go find a box.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. Yeah. Well, so I was really into what I was doing at my house and telling people I'm like, listen, we stop wasting your time with all this, you know, globo stuff and you're doing it wrong. You're doing it wrong. This is how you do it. This is how you work out. Stop wasting your time.

Jason Ackerman:
You were a global gym guy previously?

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, I went to the gym. You know, I worked out I know what I was doing started, you know, a definite read on the magazines and found a few different programs and thought I was smarter than the average guy there.

Jason Ackerman:
Do you remember your first Crossfit, workout?

Steve Liberati:
I do. It was that, Nancy.

Jason Ackerman:
So you mean most people their first day they can't overhead squat. You were overhead squatting on your first workout.

Steve Liberati:
With like a broomstick.

Jason Ackerman:
See? So you were like, I can't do this. I think Nancy's at ninety five pounds. Like, I'm going to use this broomstick up, probably running on a treadmill.

Steve Liberati:
And I was one of my neighborhood.

Jason Ackerman:
And you and you were hooked after that.

Steve Liberati:
I was hooked after that. I was, you know, working out really hard. You know, four or five times a week. And then I did one workout that took me 15 minutes and I smoked. It really made me rethink about fitness. Like, what am I doing here? And, you know, is more than just looking good, looking to part, you know, these the muscles. But it was instead, you know, just muscles that were functional. And I was I got smoked in that workout. And that told me, actually, you know, I wasn't. It made me question and ask myself my in good shape and i am in the shape I think I am.

Jason Ackerman:
A lot of people, you know, they come to that crossroads and they either ask himself that question or they think to themselves, this is dumb.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly.

Jason Ackerman:
Don't do it. So you put your ego aside. So what was the journey? How long from that first workout of Nancy to doing something on your own your own establishment?

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. So then in that time you can be a learning more about Crossfit,. I'll go on reading videos. I subscribe to the journal and just really just then it kind of, you know, start evolving more into looking over overall strength training, which is really got me interested in learning a lot about the whole strength and fitness community.

And then now while so while working for my dad in Camden, I just had a sort of brainstorm all and all these ideas like how do I make a career out of this? How did I get involved in the, you know, bringing this Crossfit, thing I love doing bring it to more people. And, you know, once while getting to work with the kids, it just it just really just all came together in the label, but often said like a group workout that, you know, that allowed me to get the kids hooked. And then I could use that to kind of talk to them and help them develop some, you know, just one or one kind of personal development. Not like this was the perfect the perfect bridge. And that's kind of how it started. You know, I just got it. I asked the property manager at one of one of our accounts if I could use some space. We we rented some space out and had a few have got a few kids over. We put on the music. I told what we're doing. They bought into my idea and they loved it.

Jason Ackerman:
Right away? They were in. Or they didn't give you any push back on it now.

Steve Liberati:
Na they didn't. They had a lot of energy, you know, just looking for something to do. I mean, these are kids that played sports that were run around the neighborhood. You know, I talked to him prior to and I explained to him that I was a strength and conditioning coach. I could help with sports. I kind of maybe over state at my credentials, but, you know, a little credibility. And then I got on and got him in on the first day.

Jason Ackerman:
So this is maybe 2008, 2009. You know, back then it must have been like, OK, we'll see what happens. But now we're 10 years later. What? What are some of the accomplishments you've had or these kids have had because of you, you know, not meeting like a teacher on horn. But I mean, you probably not. Not probably you changed a lot of these kids lives. So what are some of the great examples you can just share with the listeners?

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, there's a lot a lot of different kids that came through. I mean, I can think of I still keep in touch with a lot of kids. A lot of them have went off to college and graduate.

Jason Ackerman:
That's a big deal. Probably big deal.

Steve Liberati:
Absolutely. And I can't say that I'm solely responsible, hopefully. There was some part that influenced them that kept him on right path. I mean, I do believe a lot of it was Crossfit, is not always tangible, you know. I mean, I started a physical improvements. Some have really, really made fitness part our life, you know, working out every day. They're competing locally, some stop working out. But outside of all that, I do think that it does make people better. And you can't always measure that. But I do think that it just makes people become better humans overall.

Jason Ackerman:
Do you hear from any of the parents, the parents reach out and. Thank you.

Steve Liberati:
Not necessarily. No, not really. You know, I think that was always a gap. I always over the years and how many kids that came through Steve's club. I honestly, I could say I probably met a handful of the parents. I don't think a lot of them even knew where their kids were. So that was always a kind of always surprise me that a lot of them didn't know. And coaches found a way to come here. But yeah, most recently, one of our success stories is a kid named Jeremy. He went to a local high school. He got. He came over Steve's club, got involved with Steve Scott, private. He's like 14. He end up paying his way through college. So he was a janitor at the high school he graduated from. He was a custodian at night. He called a custodian a little more formal. So he paid his way through Rocker's university.

Jason Ackerman:
How great. I've just had a guest on who went there as well.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. So great university. You know, this was a satellite. This was the real, real campus. He was a math major. He paid his whole way through school. He recently graduated. And then he got a job as a math teacher at his old high school,.

Jason Ackerman:
The same one he was. He's like, good will hunting,.

Steve Liberati:
Good will hunting.

Jason Ackerman:
And that's all because of you. That's it. I know I've had other coaches on and I wrote something about it recently. I think like I'm very much in agreement with you today. Some of that stuff is you can't really quantify it.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly.

Jason Ackerman:
As changing. You can call it the black box or Coach Larson and say the greatest sanitation happens between the ears. But that's really, really awesome to see that. I remember being there and they were and they were great kids. It beat me into that. I remember when I was there, we did 50 deadlifts at 225 four time having a sound as terrible lost. And I think one that we had a minute. So where was the transition? It wasn't so much a transition, but an addition of the food company.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. So then like probably about a year or two later after don't see squab and kind of start in that and that sort of cut grow and get more kids and really start look into kind of more formalized it and turn it into a non-profit, you know, kind of realize that we were we had expenses and we had to figure out a way to cover expenses and there was insurance and it became a law, I guess, company, if you will. And then it was a probably. But about a year later, I put the kids on it on a little challenge, on a fitness challenge or a diet challenge was a combination. And I said, whoever loses the most weight after six or eight weeks, I would take them to anywhere in the area for lunch. That was part of prize. Yeah. So we did like a weight test. We did a strength test today and just lose weight. They also had to continue and maintain your fitness. And they look a week later, they came back, said, Steve, we're trying our best. But during the school day, it's just so hard to find anything to eat. You know, there's nothing in the cafeteria and we're not bring any brown bags. You know, no body dose that.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah.

Steve Liberati:
Said I. Let me see what I can do to help. And at the time we saw my jerky at the house. Lovely. The jerk going to go for some reason that that was my thing. I put it together a little bag with some dried fruits and nuts, and I passed them out to the kids. I said, here you go. This can help, you know, kind of give you some extra fuel throughout the day. And they loved it and they kept asking for more. And I would make at home, my wife and I kind of meet in the kitchen at twelve o'clock at night and eventually wanted kids. I want you put that a online. You know, we could, you know, like the Girl Scouts, you can raise some money for our club. We could buy more equipment. At first I wrote them off and then eventually I put it online. And sure enough, the thing went viral. Order started coming in. And that's kind of how it all started.

Jason Ackerman:
So it was one of the kids, really, that had the idea to sell it.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. He's like, why do you put this online? I think people buy your jerky is really, really good. What are you doing?

Jason Ackerman:
And that was probably before you were like vacuum sealing it, too.

Steve Liberati:
That was before. Yet at a time where we just put them in like a home vacuum sealer.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. Yeah, really? Like Wal-Mart. You know, you buy for like 30 bucks a Walmart.

Jason Ackerman:
So that was the original. What did what did you call? I mean, I remember that. It'll be all over your fingers for hours after you eat it.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah.

Jason Ackerman:
Why did you?

Steve Liberati:
Well at first has got a survival kit. And then when we we we quickly change it to the paleo kit.

Jason Ackerman:
So that was the paleo kit with the blue label.

Steve Liberati:
Correct.

Jason Ackerman:
Right. And then eventually you kind of extend it out. There was some different sizes, varieties. The strawberries were so good. Yes. And you know.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. We quickly then we teamed up with the local I mean, I realize that we're on to something. There was definitely a demand out there. Nerves, I guess. A void in the marketplace. Right. People are looking for healthy snacks on the go. I teamed up with the local university and they had a whole entire food incubator program. So we worked with them. They taught us all about the food safety. And we would we would bring over. Van full of kids every day, they would help us package it. They had all the equipment. So that was a big pivotal point in the company. You know, just a build that foundation and do it right.

Jason Ackerman:
And, you know, and I think it was so cool because you knew when you were buying those back and that you were supporting a good cause as well. You need to get their cards or you need to have one of the kids on it. You wouldn't give like handwritten notes. And then when I finally got there, seeing the kids actually work on, I was really cool. You know, you're basically. All in house with the same kids that you're taking them off the streets and not only just making them work out, but teaching them life lessons now.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. Yep, yep, yep. Serve two purposes. First is also first to raise money and then the second part. They worked so gave them an opportunity to make money in a legit way. And so it really kind of it all came together. It worked out pretty nicely.

Jason Ackerman:
And you knew nothing about this other than you were making it and you're coming. You didn't have a background in food or any of that.

Steve Liberati:
No, I didn't. No,.

Jason Ackerman:
Like you knew hot to like rodents out of the kitchen because you're very exterminating background, but you didn't know the ins and outs, margins, all that stuff.

Steve Liberati:
Now, I don't know any of that. I mean, I was you know, I consider myself a pretty quick learner if I if I'm really interested in something. And this was just like it filled all my passions. I love food, I love cooking. I love work with kids. And it just it kind of yeah, I guess the stars aligned and gave me the career that kind of was perfect for me.

Jason Ackerman:
So you started with the one to paleo card. How many products do you have today? You know, 10 years later?

Steve Liberati:
Well, ten years later, we have too many. So we're now in the process of trying to cut.

Jason Ackerman:
Let me buy you a dressings and paleo sticks. Yeah. I yeah. The granola bars. The tubs. Yeah.

Steve Liberati:
So we have have what we have over 100 products.

Jason Ackerman:
And what's what have you learned what's ideal for a company your size.

Steve Liberati:
In terms of products The product mix.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. How many.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. I mean I guess it really depends on every company is different. Depends on who your market target market is, where your channels are. We have to look at only omni channel approach. So we're in multiple multiple channels. We have retail, we have direct line. We work at independents. So we have a lot of different channels and each one has a different kind of portfolio. But ideally for a small company start out, if I was going to give any advice, I'd really stay out of guys and stay focused on maybe 3 to 5 products, one product line.

Jason Ackerman:
And knowing that now, what's your what's your best seller?

Steve Liberati:
Well, the best seller in terms of volume is pricier is the granola. The greenest granola soda co. Crunch grandmas granola. That's in the most places. So that has that's in the most retail stores.

Jason Ackerman:
And that comes in the news Kind of nice your package, correct? I mean, back in the day, it was a tub. It was like the same time you get Chinese food.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. Online, we sell a lot of jerky. That seems to be very popular. But yeah, you got to think like when starting out, there wasn't as much competition. So we quickly, you know, realized that there was a need for different categories and Nobody was doing really well. And we quickly identified different categories, whether it was dressings, the dried fruit and said, hey, we could do this really well, we can offer a really good product. Now, fast forward today. If you're if we were to start followers to start Steve's paleo goods, I guess that would not come out with as many products. But, you know, when I started in the timing, I did it kind of it made sense at the time.

Jason Ackerman:
So how do you learn that? For example, I remember you all of a sudden had dressings.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah.

Jason Ackerman:
How do you know it makes sense? Jerky. You eat jerky, is it? Can't you? OK. You do have jerky. What goes through your mind when you're like, well, I'm going to make some dressing now.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. I mean, the easy answer is to say I was looking myself for, you know, a good dressing and couldn't find one. I mean, that's partly it. But I'm not going to lie and say that it wasn't. Also, look at an opportunity to marketplace. I didn't think anybody's doing it really well. And then, look, we always followed the mantra of meats, nuts seeds. Fruits was there was the same. I know you said it a million times.

Jason Ackerman:
Eat meats vegs nut seeds and little starch, no sugar.

Steve Liberati:
I knew you could rehearse. Exactly. So like that was our overarching, you know, kind of what we want to stay within our parameters. So we tried to cover all those bases and do each one as well as we could. Whether you know, the jerky for the meat, we had the fruit to dried fruits, the granola for the nuts, the dressings help people kind of, you know, just add more flavor to our real food. And then most recently, we just acquired another small company that does a whole line of four minute product and that covered the whole vegetable part of it.

Jason Ackerman:
So you were you acquired Zouk Life Foods. That's more like kimchi sauerkraut type stuff.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, exactly. So for medulla, fermented food, the kimchi, this the crowd is is really popular. And then we also have a line of gunshots were gut power, we call them. So shots got power there to ounce little shots. and all we do is we get we we get organic vegetables. We press them all the juices that come out and we them ferment for four to six weeks. They sit in these big bats and that's what they collected, a live probiotic cultures. And that turns into a little shot and, you know, people thrown back. It's it's good for gut health, your immune system, then just an overall kind of well, well, in the shot,.

Jason Ackerman:
I'm huge into that stuff. I love kimchi and sauerkraut and I have some every night with dinner. Just came back from a level one in Greece. So sick. And that was one of the best things I ever did. to fix up my stomach.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. Yeah. I had a lot of personal digestive issues myself for the last couple of years. And I kind of, you know, look for ways of fix my gut, like, I guess natural ways. And, you know, just in all my research, I kind of I found that eating a lot of vegetables and introduce a lot of fermented foods in your diet really makes a huge difference.

Jason Ackerman:
So let me ask you a question. You and I haven't discussed this. What was your feeling when RX sold for like a couple of billion dollars?

Steve Liberati:
So I guess I would have to ask you, say …

Jason Ackerman:
your answer. Diplomatically, I can tell.

Steve Liberati:
15 percent of my brain was probably jealous. Yeah. Wow. Good for them. Small snack company. I could have been us. But no, honestly, I think I was. I mean, it's their story is one of the most impressive stories out there. He did it without raise any capital, which I don't know, honestly, any other company, food company has done it. So that. That says a lot. It's just really impressive. I think, you know, they they created Mark's has created a whole a whole category around just healthy eating, clean, clean food, minimum ingredients. They did a really good job on all that. And, you know, they they deserve that at the end day.

Jason Ackerman:
Are you friendly with the owner?

Steve Liberati:
Some friendly, but I'm not unfriendly. I hadn't really met him in person.

Jason Ackerman:
Ok, I didn't know that. I was like, I'm curious to know what his lifestyle went from, you know, making these bars in his mom's basement. I don't know. An incredible amount of money.

Steve Liberati:
Like women in money right now?

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. You know, he's. And I don't know what they sold for. There is an incredible amount. Right?

Steve Liberati:
It's hundred million.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. That's a good amount. And I just wonder how his life has changed over those, you know, 7/8 years.

Steve Liberati:
Well, apparently he's still working for the company. So that's that's kind of what a lot of companies are doing out. Food companies, they're selling to the to bigger food to the bigger companies and still running the ship as like as a separate company where they have their own autonomy and run the same team.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. And it's every time. And speaking of like Whole Foods, every time we're there, there's a new product by them to know. Yes. We just saw like a jar of peanut butter that's theirs now.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. So when these big companies take over a I guess they try to squeeze as much out as of the money as they can to get their investment back and they quickly just come out with line extensions and new flavors and trying to expand it, I guess to you know, it's the places that it's not in.

Jason Ackerman:
So is that the goal of years to be acquired by somebody like Kellogg's or do you want to? Do you foresee yourself running Steve's Paleo forever?

Steve Liberati:
Well, if I had a choice and if there is a crystal ball and some say I could do this forever, I would. It's also very challenging to run a small companies small company. It's very competitive. It does require a lot of capital to compete with the other companies out there that are well capitalized. So it's very challenging. If I continue to do it, I would. I mean, I guess, you know, sometime down the road I could see, you know, perhaps kind of combining resources, maybe a bigger company. That way I can expand, expand the product, reach our brand awareness. And then, you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, if, you know, the were the better that these Paleo goods does, we can give a kick back to Steve's club and that that will help overall just build the steves club program. And that's all to me. That would put the biggest smile on my face more than anything.

Jason Ackerman:
Right. To that goal and vision of the company hasn't changed. Still to help the kids?

Steve Liberati:
Absolutely. That's that's a huge driving force. That's like the engine behind what we do. We started Steve. I start Steve's club before the food company. So it's definitely not just marketing. And something we can just put in a package to separate us. I mean, it's really who we are, what we do. I run Steve's club every day. We have our leadership camp at the end of July, where we invite 25 to 30 kids from our Steve's clubs all over the country for just an entire week, immersion week at four Indian Town Gap. That's a military base about an hour and a half from here and 10 Sorkin. We have a lot of different leaders in the community that come in this year. We have special guest. We have. We have this year. And my memory, because a few of them.

Jason Ackerman:
From Crossfit, from the Crossfit, world.

Steve Liberati:
I'm sorry, Todd, so I todd the head. I think he works with Todd right at the level ones.

Jason Ackerman:
Todd Whitman Yeah. Todd Whitman. I had a big deal. Yeah.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. Real big deal. So we're really excited to have Todd. And it also Tosh is gonna be a guest this year.

Jason Ackerman:
Two awesome people on two huge bad asses.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. I just saw your face like. Yeah, I could tell you of a lot of respect for those guys.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. Yeah. Tosh and I actually did our level two together back at Spiller on recently. Spiller Tosh and I were all brought the same level too. But you've not seen Tosh. He's the guy that ran 24 hours in a shipping container and I think he ran nearly 100 miles. You know, I was all about being in the dark. No sensory and yeah. Just, you know, Google Brian contact c h o n t o s h and you'll see for the listeners. You'll see how amazing that guy is.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, he's. He's an incredible person. So stop Todd. Extremely, extremely excited that both of them. And it just goes to show like this, you know, this whole Crossfit, and how big the community is. Even despite how big the sport of Crossfit, has become and even how many affiliates are out there, like, you know, there's still just some really good, selfless individuals. I mean, he's donating your time there. They're flying out, too. I mean, Ford and Intel and Gap in the middle of nowhere. And I know they have lots of other things they could be doing with their time. So just speaks volumes about the type of people in our community.

Jason Ackerman:
So when you were coaching these kids and when you do coach them, what has been your biggest lesson in working with them?

Steve Liberati:
I guess I gave over all coaching. Just do the biggest lesson is the reason they're there. I get really excited to teach them about Crossfit, and to help them become a better athlete because I know that translates into other aspects of their life. Them, you know, take that home and they'll just, you know, overall feel better about themselves. And, you know, they'll have more of a, I guess, inclination to kind of surround themselves with the right people.

Steve Liberati:
I it just as so many transfer things just just from basically making them a better athlete in the gym. So I try to keep in mind the reason they're there now. You know, like so rather you again, too, caught up into all the minute details of like learn to clean, which is very important. You know, it's important for them to feel like they're a part of something bigger. And, you know, they're a part of this whole atmosphere that you stay, you know, a positive place for them to get away from it all. So I constantly try to just make the environment just a high energy, really fun place. And then, you know, I do really put a lot of emphasis on the coach. And, you know, we have done it since day one. We want them to make sure they're doing it correctly. They're learning the right movements. It's not just having kids, you know, playing style music and popping out air squats and jumping on the pool bar like we do coach here. And we put a lot a lot of. We take a lot of pride in that. But overall, you know, it's important that they're part of a that they make the environment what it is.

Jason Ackerman:
Sounds like you're someone that's just helping people have the best hour of their day.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. You just summed it up the best.

Jason Ackerman:
In four words. So I always like to ask every guest that it's on the show, a book they recommend that the listeners read.

Steve Liberati:
Who won? I recently read a book called This is just because this topic is is hot in my world right now. There's something that's helped me. It's called a Healthy Gut Tells You. It's a very good book and just kind of naturally fixing your gut health. I know a lot of people have different gut issues, especially in the fitness and health community, just years of, you know, being taught, just pounding. Protein shakes, you know, if you're on a super strict Keto diet, which all that is fine and well good. And I don't have any strong opinions on them. But, you know, all that does change the gut floor and it changes your gut health. So I think it's you know, it's it's a really good. It's I highly recommend that book.

Jason Ackerman:
Definitely something people should take more of an interest in in our everybody's into tracking macros are counting these days to eat the right amount, which is obviously important. But you also need to know what's going on on the inside. And like I said, I had a really I mean, I was messed up for about three months and that was when I was like, OK, I need to take probiotics, hides it and really be aware of what I'm what I'm doing. And it's for me, it's like, well, I might as well just continue it because I feel good.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah. And I think, you know, it's obviously everything's always individual, but it doesn't matter what you eat. I mean, as long as like the most important thing is first that you're digesting it correctly and that you have all the good bacteria to fight it off. All that stuff is so important. You can really focus on the macros. You can focus on the quantities, the qualities. You can go down the list. But if you're not digesting it and you don't have, you know, a good gut flawed and it really doesn't matter.

Jason Ackerman:
So over 10 years later, how do you stay motivated to work out who?

Steve Liberati:
How do I stay motivated?

Jason Ackerman:
Well, I'm assuming you're working out still. You look good. What are you hitting Crossfit, workouts right now?

Steve Liberati:
Absolutely, yes. So, I mean, I have, I guess, in the last 12 years taken a few breaks. But yeah, I've always continued to work out. I mean, I've always kind of been self-motivated with that on my own. When I don't work out, I feel terrible. So it's definitely the best alternative. But I'll see. Yeah. I mean, I guess it's just easy. I have you know, I work out with the kids during Steve's club, so I'll spend the first half hour teaching everything and then, you know, I'll get in there. And as long as there's no it's like brand spanking new, I'll get in there, workout with them. So it's kind of really just put myself, you know, which you're not atmosphere and you're around the right people. It makes it so much easier.

Jason Ackerman:
Have you have any of the kids gotten to that point in their time with you where they got better than you?

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, I would say let's say today we didn't work out of 4 o'clock and we have 10 kids. I would say at least three or four. Beat me by around.

Jason Ackerman:
That's that's not good enough, Steve. That's not acceptable.

Steve Liberati:
That's not saying a whole lot because I'm not. Know said I'm the best athlete, but a lot of these kids have really kind of take it to the next level in terms of their commitment. I mean, they come here on on days off. I mean, they're they're spending time learning the island like there are a lot of time into it.

Jason Ackerman:
So going from beating Austin Malleolo, to losing to the kids of Camden, that's that's the Steve liberati story.

Steve Liberati:
But you also have to keep in mind, back in the day, we're all weekend warriors. If you work out twice a day, you're considered nuts. We worked out four times a week and competed.

Jason Ackerman:
So, you know, you know, and not to mention back then. I mean, how old are you now?

Steve Liberati:
I'll be 40 in January.

Jason Ackerman:
Those of us who were competing back then, we were already 30.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah.

Jason Ackerman:
You know, or nearly 30. The guys coming up these days, I mean, add Dale pepper on recently, the 17 year old champ. He's trying to go right to the games at 18. You know, that's an unfair test. His testosterone next to a guy in his 40s. It's not fair.

Steve Liberati:
But I'm mean, you hear people say that age doesn't matter. But it's that's I mean, physiologically, that's not true. It does matter.

Jason Ackerman:
Back in the day, you know, there's people like Bill Drummer, I remember him specifically not wanting to go to Masters because back then it was like, OK, the 35, 40 year olds can hang this to this day and age. So it's a whole different sport.

Steve Liberati:
Oh, yeah. It's like it's the same thing in pro sports. I mean, look at the professional hockey players, baseball players, 18 and 21 year olds and recovery. They have you know, they had the testosterone. It just favors the young guy.

Jason Ackerman:
I'm sure part of you no one likes to lose. But it must be nice to see that these kids are choosing to be exercising, working out vs., you know, hanging in the street. So I'm sure this part of you that's happy beating you.

Steve Liberati:
Absolutely. In there are making it their lifestyle, you know, and my whole thing is like I can only reach so many kids, but if I could reach the right ones, then they can in turn become beacons in a community and they can kind of turn around and they could teach you to kids if they're really, really into it. So, you know, it's not about how many kids I can teach directly, but it's about how many, you know, just kind of spread it. So it has a ripple effect.

Jason Ackerman:
And the kids just kind of show up with their buddies and they're like, hey, this is the place I was telling you about.

Steve Liberati:
Exactly. It's all been word of mouth through the years. Yeah. We have a class every of 4:00. It's a structure class. But kids come in like there's some open gym. I'm going to learn. But yeah, of course everybody kind of gets the bug and they always bring in some friends.

Jason Ackerman:
How many kids would you say have come through the doors?

Steve Liberati:
So I would say, I mean, over the last 10 years.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah,.

Steve Liberati:
Let's say maybe one hundred each year,.

Jason Ackerman:
A thousand kids even influenced.

Steve Liberati:
The ya, probably more or less, but the number. You know, it's like anything else. It's really the quality. And I would rather have five kids in the class, kids out want to be there. They're not forced to be there. They're coachable. They're gonna go to communion, you know, teach it to somebody else. They're going to be here for every day, all year round. Rain. Snow doesn't matter. I want those five kids. I don't want 20 kids in a class just to say I have 20 kids and look at us. I don't need commission . I don't have a for profit model. So that doesn't matter to me. It's not about the numbers.

Jason Ackerman:
Have you gotten any thanks from the community outside of what you're internally like to the police department, come over. Did people come over? And I think sometimes it's just people I have on. We forget how much of an influence we've had and it's hard. Sometimes it's a little thankless to be a coach at times. Have you heard it from the community at all?

Steve Liberati:
Oh, yeah. You get good things every once in a while. You know, I wouldn't say I was on the headline or front page of the paper, and I'm not looking for that. I can honestly say that I do because I see that in my own eyes and just the relationships that I build with the kids and I see the differences in their attitudes. That's enough for me. But yeah, I don't really need, I guess, you know, a plaque for, you know, a shout out. That's cool and all. But, you know, at this point and don't I guess you can say I'm doing it selfishly because I'm happy to see the difference it makes.

Steve Liberati:
Well, I'll give you a little shout out because it's been really cool to see. You know, I still get a little bit of a goose bump feeling every time I see Steve's club stuff at Whole Foods or wherever I am. It's really I mean, it's in some big places these days. So it's really cool to see that. I feel like I had a really small part in this. You know, when we used to order it and sell it at Albany Crossfit, and truth be told I eat most of that. So we'd sell it. But I would just. All the coaches, which is basically snack on it. I was definitely losing money on that, but it was well worth it.

Steve Liberati:
So once you started snacking so much you like, your son had like this twelve pack. Is that it?

Jason Ackerman:
That was a big part of it. I mean, that's the beauty of it that I still love about it is you can track the macros are right on there. You know, meats stick. When you want just a little bit of protein you can keep. They're great on the on the road. I'm even 18 and the kids are still delicious. I love this. You know, the varieties that you now offer. If someone hadn't heard of you, where can they go to buy some?

Steve Liberati:
The best thing is online, directly online. That's that's the best place. Steve's paleo. Good scone. We're all. We're also in a lot of different retailers, Whole Foods, Kroger, a lot of small mom and pops. We recently got into sprouts, so you'll see us in sprouts and in the next two months. So we're pretty excited about that. Yeah. Just, you know, you can find us some different retailers, but you have the best place always online.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah. Very cool. Yeah. We just had a sprouts open literally across the street. So we'll see you there soon. But it's been great catching up with you. Anything I miss, anything you want to mention or talk about?

Steve Liberati:
I think you covered it all.

Jason Ackerman:
I tried to take some notes. I did a little research. I knew pretty well. It's been it's been great catching up. And we'll have to get a rematch of you in Austin at some once. Austin in 10 more years when he gets to 40. We'll have we'll have a rematch. We'll get to that rig is still there, by the way.

Steve Liberati:
Yeah, I think I think we'll be safe to say that also beat me if it was a 10 rounds for time. Yeah, you'd probably beat me by quite a long shot there.

Jason Ackerman:
It's amazing to see that his progress as well. Yeah. That that rig is there. It's like a monument now. It is cemented into the ground versus just sitting above the cement. So it's it's a little more of a useful apparatus these days.

Steve Liberati:
It always impresses me to the furnace out there. Give the Austin the credit he deserves. You know, there's a lot a lot a lot of good athletes. A lot of the athletes are younger to have a lot of time. It always impressed me at Austin that he had his career now as a family. So he's balancing so much, being a head trainer at Reebok. He's also involved lenders in the business side. He was doing the search so that that impressed we were things. So I can maintain that balance, which is juggling so many things on your plate. That's that's pretty impressive where you're able to keep fitness a big part of your life.

Jason Ackerman:
Yeah, I always refer to him as the hardest working man in Crossfit,. So it's good to have him as a friend. And he's a he's a really both you guys. You know, that's the beauty of Crossfit,. You just meet some amazing people. Absolutely. Yeah. Well, thanks again, Steve, for coming on. And I hope everybody goes and checks you guys out if they haven't already. It's delicious. It's it's good for you. And it supports a great cause.

Steve Liberati:
Thanks for having me today, Jason.

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