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3 min read

The History Of The Stark System


When it comes to your health and fitness, it’s most convenient to have one single person handle all of the components of your program: workouts, nutrition, supplements, injuries, etc.  However, at Stark, we believe the best approach is to use a team of specialists that collaborate and work together.  This is the “Stark Way,” and it is unlike any other system (see the Wheel of Health) in the health and fitness industry. 

The origin of this concept dates back to Henry Ford and the invention of the assembly line.  It’s the principle of specialization. It ties back to a manufacturing concept that has been used for over a hundred years around the globe. CEO and co-founder of Stark, Todd Vande Hei, realized no one had applied the approach to the health and fitness industry and the human body. The idea of multiple specialists working together sounded great; however, once he began bringing this idea to life, Todd realized this was going to be challenging. It was challenging because both the world of medicine and the world of health and fitness have a strong culture built around working alone and having total control over the patient/client with no other outside opinions. For instance, a nutritionist will think that he/she can help someone achieve better health through nutrition, and that it will be more effective than the same concept delivered by a registered dietitian, who takes a completely different approach. In the end, they both believe they are delivering the same thing.  

Todd felt that this approach was something that needed to be contributed to the industry after he had gone through a prostate exam. This was an “aha” moment for him, and he was struck by the idea that there was a need for someone who thinks like a manufacturer.  There was a need to clarify the conflicting messages that a consumer gets from experts like MDs and try to navigate through that for the purpose of helping the individual. What really knocked it home for Todd was that during the same appointment as the prostate exam, the doctor began giving him nutrition advice that was in direct conflict with his personal nutritionist. He thought to himself, as an ordinary consumer, “Whose word are you supposed to take?”  At this point, Todd had already started Stark and was well into his health and fitness journey. But thinking like an ordinary consumer, one would think to listen to the doctor’s advice. However, in this situation, Todd felt that the Doctor was completely wrong and undereducated on the topics that surrounded his nutrition plan.  

This concept ties into Stark’s mission statement with regards to changing the future of health and fitness, and to completely alter the way medicine is practiced. Overall, it’s really the way health should be delivered, because there is a combination of several different professionals that are there for the same purpose, yet they deliver it from different angles. This stems from Todd’s past career with his manufacturing background. When his company would roll out a new product, he realized that the VP of marketing had no idea how to price things, or any idea how to manufacture at scale. However, the marketer had amazing taste and flair and was able to create beautiful products.  But if left unchecked, he would tank the company because of claims and lack of profits. He had his VP of Operations, who was an engineer, and the CFO, who was a CPA, come together and pick apart the products from both perspectives. At first it was a battle, each defending their own turf and specialties.  Finally, they all learned about one another’s expertise and became better at understanding their own issues.  Six months later, those meetings became more efficient. The outcome was that the final product was not only beautiful and sellable, but it was profitable and great for the brand. There were no problems for people who purchased the products.  The differences between the creatives and engineers are significant, but they are both of immeasurable value.  This concept is completely absent from the world of health and fitness. 

Applying this concept to the human body—when you actually get a team of specialists with different perspectives and backgrounds to work together and collaborate—it creates a scenario where the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. As a result, the clients at Stark  are able to get more out of their bodies than they ever thought possible.   

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