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‘We never once sacrificed quality for profit. What I am most proud of with GASP is that we created a movement of like-minded people who each have their own version of what GASP means to them.’ -GASP CEO Michael Johansson

Chances are that if you live the fitness lifestyle and love working out, you’ve got at least a few items of GASP or Better Bodies clothes in your closet or dresser drawers. I know I have amassed quite a collection of tank tops, hoodies, shorts, and pants! Over the years in the pages of MD you saw the very best champions rocking these brands, stars like Branch Warren, Flex Lewis, Johnnie Jackson, and Dennis Wolf. I’ve never known the story behind the brand itself. Recently I spoke with owner Michael Johansson from GASP and Better Bodies world headquarters at Destination Dallas and learned how the company motto of “No compromises, no excuses, stay relentless” came to be.

Nordic Origins

It all began in the late 1980s, when Michael was selling Brian Moss’ Better Bodies activewear brand from the USA in the Nordic nations: Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and his native Sweden. The bodybuilding lifestyle had yet to gain popularity in that part of Europe. “Only a select few went to the gym back then,” Michael notes. Better Bodies grew faster than they could keep up with, and the company went under in 1992. After negotiations, Johansson began producing the brand again in 1994. “The cover of our first catalogue that year featured Aaron Baker, and it was very similar to the GASP brand you know today.” Their sales were limited to Sweden, a nation of just 10 million people, but gym owners and eventually Dick’s Sporting Goods all carried Better Bodies workout apparel. Over the next few years, the company took a more mainstream direction away from the hardcore gym crowd. “I felt we were losing something essential, where we had come from, our core values,” Michael tells us. “And it as all just to be more commercial and appeal to a bigger audience.” This is how GASP was born.

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In the foreground, GASP CEO Michael Johansson

GASP: No Compromises, No Excuses, Stay Relentless

Michael was a bodybuilder himself in the early ‘90s, and his passion for the sport and lifestyle drove the values and mission of GASP. “We were doing it from the heart, not from the wallet.” Johansson wanted to help others reach their bodybuilding goals. “By the time I was 27, I realized I didn’t have the genetics to be Mr. Olympia,” he says. “But I could be Mr. Olympia in business and contribute to the sport in my own way. Better Bodies would be the more commercial side of the company, and GASP would be the emotional aspect for like-minded people.” In 2008, Michael decided to focus on the US market. The first athletes to represent the brand could not have been more appropriate: Branch Warren and Johnnie Jackson, the epitome of hardcore in every sense. He made a daring gamble in 2012 when he sold everything in Sweden and moved the company to the USA. Today, GASP and Better Bodies are sold and distributed in over 110 countries. Things weren’t smooth sailing. The advent and rapid rise of social media platforms challenged many established business models, and by 2017 Michael felt the brand struggling to remain relevant in this new environment. Eventually the company adapted and thrived once again. I pointed out to Johansson that not only is GASP clothing stylish, but it’s also incredibly durable, as proven by the many items of theirs I have sweated in and washed hundreds of times. “That’s where the ‘no compromises’ aspect comes in,” he explained. “We never once sacrificed quality for profit. What I am most proud of with GASP is that we created a movement of like-minded people who each have their own version of what GASP means to them. Everyone has their own experience of the iron world, and we help you shape your own path. The clothes remind you of hard work, no compromises, and no excuses, which is at the very heart of bodybuilding.”

Destination Dallas

For decades, Venice Beach was The Mecca of bodybuilding, where bodybuilders from all over the world migrated to be part of the culture. After that Las Vegas began attracting the fitness elite, and now thanks to GASP and Better Bodies, Dallas has become the new area to migrate to due to their enormous warehouse/headquarters and gym, Destination Dallas. “I wanted the gym to have that old-school feeling of the gyms I grew up training in, and of Metroflex Arlington and hardcore places like that,” says Michael. “It’s all about passion and purpose for people who want to work hard in the gym and fulfill their dreams, whatever those might be. I wanted it to be a meeting place for like-minded people, which is why I called it Destination Dallas.” So far GASP athletes Keone Pearson and Martin Fitzwater have moved there, and soon two-time Olympia 212 champ Shaun Clarida will have left his native New Jersey with his wife and child for Dallas as well. It’s also where much of their sensational video content is filmed for their Iron World YouTube channel, by chief videographer Nick Del Toro, who did amazing work for MD for years.

‘Everyone has their own experience of the iron world, and we help you shape your own path. The clothes remind you of hard work, no compromises, and no excuses, which is at the very heart of bodybuilding.’ -GASP CEO Michael Johansson

Become Part of the Movement!

Everything shifted in 2017 when Johansson felt the company was becoming too corporate, and he decided to bring it back to its roots once more. “Everybody brings something to the table, whether they are current champions, aspiring bodybuilders, or athletes who are no longer competing. It’s a family here and everyone is welcome. We are diverse but again, like-minded.” There are many other brands to choose from and the fitness clothing industry is more competitive than ever, but GASP and Better Bodies have remained relevant through it all. “Our clothing is for everyone who has dreams and goals, and we believe helping others raises all of us to a higher level.” This year, GASP and Better Bodies are supporting 80 amateur and pro contests, and they have over 15,000 brand ambassadors and athletes around the world. “It’s all about creating more camaraderie and more of a community,” Michael says. “That’s far more important than selling clothing.” 

Instagram @officialgasp


YouTube: Iron World

Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989. He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area. Facebook Instagram

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Title: The GASP Story
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Published Date: Mon, 08 May 2023 19:30:52 +0000

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Failures in Business: The Unseen Stepping Stones to Success

Equally significant is the need for businesses to remain vigilant about broader shifts in both domestic and global markets. Macro factors, whether they’re economic trends, geopolitical events, or emerging global challenges, can have profound ripple effects, impacting even the most niche industries. By staying abreast of these larger market dynamics, businesses can better anticipate risks, adapt to challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. In an ever-globalizing world, the ability to navigate both the nuances of one’s immediate market and the broader global shifts is what separates thriving enterprises from those that falter.

TACTICAL Takeaway: Stay sharp and monitor your industry’s trends. When things shift, being ahead in understanding consumer habits offers you the flexibility to adjust and succeed. Things can change rapidly and the sooner you have insight into consumer behavior changes, the more opportunities you have to pivot.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The sports nutrition industry is an interesting, fast-paced vertical where what’s old can quickly become new again but also what worked yesterday likely won’t work tomorrow.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s spot-on. Take creatine as an example. It hit the shelves in the early 1990s and quickly became a hit. Yet, a decade later, its demand had waned. Jump another decade to today, and it’s back more popular than ever.

TACTICAL Takeaway: The key for businesses is knowing when to go all-in on a product and when to ease off, as it’s the ever-changing consumer market that truly drives demand.

Never Rest On Your Laurels

Just because something “has always worked” doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work (or continue to work as efficiently).

In the dynamic world of business, the saying “never rest on your laurels” holds more truth than ever. What propelled a company to success yesterday might not necessarily be the formula for its tomorrow’s success. Market demands, technological innovations, and consumer preferences are in a perpetual state of evolution. While a particular strategy or product might have been a game-changer at one point, there’s no guarantee that it will remain relevant or effective in the future. This inherent unpredictability underscores the need for adaptability and forward-thinking in any business endeavor.

This reality pushes companies to be proactive, always forecasting and adjusting to the next potential shift. Relying solely on past successes can lull businesses into complacency, risking obsolescence in the face of changing tides.

TACTICAL Takeaway: To remain competitive and relevant, businesses need to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and agility. In essence, the past can inform and guide, but it’s the vision and readiness for the future that will determine enduring success.

Embracing The Journey

To any entrepreneur reading this: the road to success is rarely a straight one. At times, it may seem like every decision leads to a dead end. But remember, every misstep is an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot.

The trials you face in business are not meant to discourage you. Instead, they are meant to shape you, refine your vision, and improve your strategy. As the age-old adage goes, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the challenges that will arm you with the experience and resilience necessary for long-term success.

So, the next time you face a setback, remember that your next big success could be just around the corner. Embrace failure as a part of the process, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. With so much time spent working and navigating challenges, it’s essential to find joy and have fun along the way.


Instagram @aaronsingerman

Instagram @redcon1

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Negativity Is a Losing Mindset

By Marc Lobliner


‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’

I coach my son’s U11 football team. I am just the line coach, but the dudes who coach with me are also in the same mindset as I am.

Positivity wins.

Let’s start off with last weekend’s game.

It’s 0-0, the opening kickoff is a short one and we fall on it.

You can hear our coaches getting our kids fired up and getting the offense ready for play. POSITIVE statements. A lot of “Let’s Go!” and energy.

On the other sideline, you hear the coaches angrily yelling at their players for the execution of the kick.

First play from scrimmage, our line makes every block and opens the outside for our running back to score.

You hear their coaches furiously yelling as we celebrate.

We celebrated and our fullback punched in the extra point.

After the kickoff, our defense held them to four and out. We got the ball again, touchdown. Extra point good.

14-0 in two offensive plays.s

Their coaches were still mad. Angry. Yelling.

We smiled, encouraged our kids, and ended up with a 42-0 mercy-rule win.

Our players are awesome, but not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest.

It’s all about culture and what you’re playing for.

We demand a lot of our athletes. Learn your plays, DO YOUR JOB, and we will win.

Every Tuesday after we win, I buy my linemen doughnuts and give them to everyone, telling them that a random lineman (changes weekly) said everyone deserves doughnuts. We don’t punish every mistake with extra running and up-downs. We focus on what we do RIGHT, and not what we do wrong.

The other game one of my linemen got called for a hold. He came off the field expecting to be scolded. I put my arm around him and said, “What happened?” He explained it and then I said, “You’re better than that guy, you don’t need to hold. Show the world how dominant you are!” He didn’t get one call the rest of the game and crushed it.

This is also my management style at work. Managers are usually garbage. You can do 1,000 things right and you mess up once and your manager attacks you.

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Employees typically respond better to positivity, and numerous studies have found that positive reinforcement and a positive work environment can significantly improve employee motivation, performance, and well-being. Here are some reasons why, supported by various studies:

Increased Productivity: According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. The research shows that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.

Better Decision-Making Abilities: Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center found that individuals who were induced to feel positive emotions were better at problem-solving and making decisions than those in a neutral state.

Boosts Creativity: Positive emotions widen attention and allow people to think more broadly and openly. This is discussed in the “broaden-and-build theory” by Barbara Fredrickson, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoires.

Enhanced Team Collaboration: A study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that teams that communicate effectively, with members actively reaching out and connecting with all other team members, were more successful. Positive interactions contribute to this dynamic.

Reduced Employee Turnover: According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a positive work environment and culture encourages employees to stay longer in their jobs, thus reducing turnover rates. This is KEY at where our staff has mostly been there for 5+ years!

Better Health & Well-being: A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that positive work environments and low job stress are linked to better health outcomes for employees, which in turn can lead to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Increased Engagement: According to Gallup, workers who are engaged and have high well-being are more likely to be attached to their organizations and are more productive.

Enhanced Learning & Flexibility: Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can facilitate adaptive thinking and flexibility in cognitive processing. This helps employees adapt to new situations and learn more effectively.

Higher Levels of Satisfaction: A study by BrightHR found that happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs than those who report low levels of happiness.

Creates a Positive Feedback Loop: A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that experiencing positive emotions leads to higher levels of resilience, which in turn leads to increased positive emotions. This positive feedback loop has a myriad of beneficial effects in the workplace.

How about parenting?

Same thing. PRAISE YOUR CHILD! Make sure they know you love them. While bad behavior should be addressed, be sure to also reward good behavior. Kid had a good day at school? Get him ice cream! Tell him you love him. Say you’re proud of him.

As my mother said, “You catch more flies with honey than with crap.”

And one can’t deny the lifelong impact of a good coach. As the sign in the office says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Be positive and be a winner!

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Instagram @marclobliner

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Panatta Super Rowing Page 1

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