Despite difficult financial history that led to bankruptcy, brand said to continue to have dedicated core of consumers.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

October 5, 2023

3 Min Read
MusclePharm filed bankruptcy in December of 2022.

MusclePharm, an iconic sports nutrition brand that at one point in its history hit an impressive $166 million in annual revenue, has finally reached the end of its long decline as another company has acquired all its assets for $18.5 million. 

FitLife Brands, based in Omaha, Neb., has pursued a business model of aggregating existing supplement brands. With the addition of MusclePharm assets out of bankruptcy, the company will market supplements under 13 different brand names.  

Strong position in sports nutrition 

FitLife already has a strong position in sports nutrition with brands such as NDS Nutrition, PMD Sports, Metis, Siren Labs, iSatori, Energize and Core Active. 

FitLife funded the transaction out of cash reserves and expects the acquisition to contribute immediately to the company’s bottom line. According to a statement from FitLife, even while operating under bankruptcy court protection, MusclePharm has been generating as much as $1.5 million in monthly revenue. 

MusclePharm was founded in Denver in 2008 by ex-NFL player Brad Pyatt with some partners. The company had rapid initial success with aggressive product branding that seemed to connect with consumers. 

Pyatt had a knack for finding strong influencer partners to help promote the brand, concluding high profile deals with Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzeneggar, among others. 

Related:MusclePharm former executives charged with inflating revenues, profits

Huge sales linked to huge losses 

MusclePharm hit a high point in 2015, reporting annual revenue of $166 million. But it was a castle built on sand, as the company lost more than $51 million that year, too.   

The company had weak accounting controls, according to allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC charged that the company had failed to properly categorize hundreds of thousands of dollars of perks paid out to Pyatt and other executives. 

In 2015 MusclePharm agreed to pay $700,000 to settle an SEC complaint. Pyatt was personally hit with $150,000 in fines and subsequently agreed to step down as CEO in 2016. 

In addition to those difficulties, MusclePharm was hit in 2016 with a $65 million breach of contract lawsuit filed by Capstone Nutrition, of Ogden, Utah, its major contract manufacturer. 

Pyatt was succeeded as CEO by Ryan Drexler, whose father had founded the Country Life Vitamins brand. Drexler was one of the larger shareholders at the time. 

Drexler reported some interim success but was ultimately unable to resuscitate the brand, and the company filed for bankruptcy in Dec. 2022. 

And the SEC charged that what success the company had reported was inflated. Three MusclePharm executives settled SEC charges in July that they had inflated quarterly revenues by as much as 49%. SEC has also charged Drexler separately. 

Related:MusclePharm Settles Capstone Suit for $11M, Releases Improved 3Q Results

Brand name still strong 

Even with that difficult history, FitLife claims the brand has a strong following on which it can build. 

“The brand’s consumer following remains strong, as evidenced by the continued engagement of its 564,000 Instagram followers,” the company said in a statement

FitLife said in the statement that it will seek to close the deal as rapidly as possible, but no later than Oct. 16, 2023. 

The FitLife statement noted that MusclePharm had been focused on wholesale distribution to brick-and-mortar outlets, but that the brand’s growth potential can be found in online sales. 

“FitLife intends to return the brand to growth and enhance the brand’s profitability through a focus on online sales direct to the end consumer and expanded wholesale distribution,” the company said. 

Stock traders seemed to welcome the news, with FitLife’s share price rising from about $15 a share before the announcement to more than $19 today. 


About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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