Jeremy McGrath and His Latest Venture
There are very few athletes who grow to become larger than the sport they participate in. A man with the nickname “Showtime” and eventually “The King of Supercross”, Jeremy McGrath falls directly into this category. Of course, he loved winning races, but it was his love for the spotlight and his enormous fan base that helped him ink non-endemic deals that would single-handedly propel him into the mainstream audiences and beyond throughout his career. Now settled well into retirement from professional racing, McGrath’s latest opportunity comes in the form of founding ARMA, a brand he’s confident will help a lot of modern-day racers, athletes, and everyday people alike. A look into his journey as an athlete to the current day gives a clear view on why starting the ARMA supplement brand is not only fit for a King but is destined to continue his legacy while giving back to the sport he loves so much.
Ruling The 90's
It’s no surprise that a SoCal BMX racer took a liking to motocross, but his special talent was quick to shine through. Climbing the ranks faster than the average racer, McGrath actually won the second Supercross race that he ever entered, giving his competition a clear glimpse of what was to come. In what would be coined the “McGrath Era” of Supercross through the mid-90s, Jeremy won a staggering 72 main events and 7 premier class Supercross titles. Add in a 1995 motocross championship and five total X Games medals over the years, and Jeremy’s resume is that of legends. Flashing back to images of lakeside parties and endless freeriding clips, it’s no secret that the riders of the ’90s enjoyed themselves a little more than the modern professional racers. That doesn’t mean Jeremy wasn’t on his grind 100%, and he was quick to point out the vibe. “I think that we were very serious about what we were doing, but we also weren’t afraid to have some fun. That was kind of the status quo back then, and a lot of the times that I was doing my thing and letting everyone think that I was out playing around I was actually out working my tail off.” He went on, “You could play those head games back in the day, and I would just kind of have everyone thinking that I was not doing my work, because at least if they thought I wasn’t doing it they might not have done it. I just figured if I let everyone think I was out playing around that when I got to the race on the weekend, I knew how much work I had done so maybe I would have an advantage."
Berm Annihilation. Thing Ranch, CA
The Hurt Locker
Did winning races come as easy as he made it look? “Regardless of if you’re winning or a tenth-place guy, the physical demands on your body are crazy.” Jeremy continued, “It’s not unheard of to have a heart rate of 180+ or 190+ for the 22 minutes you’re racing a Supercross main, or quite possibly the 35-38 minutes you need to compete, complete, and win an outdoor national moto. The intensity and demands on your body are huge.” With Supercross skills coming more naturally, McGrath’s 1995 outdoor title holds a special place in his heart due to the sheer challenges he overcame to achieve it. “I only won one outdoor title in 1995 and I was set to win another in 1996 before I crashed and hurt my ankle. But in that 1995-1996 era I won a lot of nationals, and to me that was really one of my biggest accomplishments because it really was difficult. It’s a little bit of a different world today, but for me motocross was so much harder than Supercross.”
A lot has changed in the 20 plus years since, and he smirked as he thought about how much of a benefit modern nutrition knowledge and supplements like ARMA could have been, “Yeah, I definitely would have had some ARMA Blitz going and a protein shake for sure. Back then we were just drinking water, eating bananas, and trying to do the best we could to recover. A lot of times we were heading back down to the line for the second moto wiped out.” Revisiting memories of Troy, Ohio’s humidity-saturated East Coast outdoor round, he recounted those race weekends and the toll that the outdoor racing took on his body during those days, “It was 100+ degrees out there and probably 90% humidity, so at the end of those motos you were just completely wiped out. We would jump in these little kiddie pools filled with water and ice after the motos just to cool the body off. But again, the supplement era really hadn’t kicked in at that point. It wasn’t like, ‘Here’s your electrolytes, here’s your protein, here’s your recovery drink.’ I think with what we know now and what the guys have available to them it is so much different, and so much more advanced. I can say that I only wish I had these products back then.”
“It’s not unheard of to have a heart rate of 180+ or 190+ for the 22 minutes you’re racing a Supercross main, or quite possibly the 35-38 minutes you need to compete, complete, and win an outdoor national moto. The intensity and demands on your body are huge.”
For The Love
Currently engrained in the sport more so than ever, McGrath’s sponsors and partners like Kawasaki, Monster Energy, and more keep him connected to the top talent and upcoming racers as both a mentor and brand ambassador. “I enjoy it so much, and I still riding enjoy my motorcycle so much. Every day I wake up and can’t believe that I have the life I have because of my dirt bike and the opportunities I got as a kid because of my parents.” He smiled, “It thrills me to death to still be able to be involved, and to still be so active.”
The same goes for keeping in shape and off the bike activity, “I still enjoy fitness like crazy –even more so now than I did when I was a kid. I had to do it then, and now I don’t have to do it, so I enjoy it more! Learning about new fitness methods, and still trying to keep in shape as an older guy is a whole new learning curve.” He went on to discuss his colleagues and surrounding good company, “I’m just having a blast, enjoying it, and being able to be around the Monster Energy Kawasaki race team with guys like Eli Tomac and Joey Savatgy, and even the younger guys like Adam Cianciarulo has been really fun. Where I’m really having a lot of fun as well is mentoring the Team Green kids and getting to know their parents as young kids. It’s really fun, it keeps me busy, and it all keeps my passion so alive –I’m having a blast.”
A New Venture
Founding a brand like ARMA where Jeremy can apply his years of training, race craft, and his business savvy doesn’t come without passion. “I’m excited for ARMA because it’s a new opportunity. Throughout my career I’ve been a brand ambassador, I’ve been sponsored-by, I’ve been an investor-in, but never have I been founder and co-owner and I think it’s going to be really cool to be a part of a rider-owned company.”
Continuing the conversation to the modern-day training of the top athletes and how it relates directly to the brand, he was excited at the topic. “These guys today are training and working so hard. We as a community have learned so much when it comes to fitness, and so much has evolved since the day I even was racing or retired from racing. It’s exciting to have a chance to make a difference and give back to the sport that I love so much.” With ARMA supplements to fuel the way, his workouts in 2019 may not reflect those in the summer of 1995 but are more fun than ever as he stays fit in ways that are genuinely enjoyable, “I grew up racing BMX and I just love bicycles, so any second or chance I get I’m out riding my bike. So, I do that and I’m getting my kids into it a little too so we as a family enjoy riding together. I’m just trying to stay in the best shape I can be in my ripe old age.” [laughs] All of the bike riding translates directly back to the motorcycle too, “I noticed that when I ride my mountain and my road bike so much and I go to ride moto, even though I don’t ride it a ton I don’t suffer like some guys when they don’t ride moto for a while. I really feel great on my dirt bike when I get out there, and that’s probably just due to being so active, you know?”
With the launch of ARMA, the next chapter in the King’s book is ready to be written. Jeremy smiled as he discussed these opportunities at hand, “This is going to help make someone healthy, and this is going to give you an advantage when it comes to endurance. It feels really good to stand behind a brand and I really feel like this is making a difference.” Look for plenty more to come from Jeremy McGrath and ARMA in the future.