Mike and Tony Costello made their bones in the supplement industry back in the 1980s. What began as a grassroots operation in their father’s garage turned into Costello’s Health Distributors and, eventually, Optimum Nutrition, a multimillion-dollar sports supp powerhouse. In 2008, after more than two decades at the helm of ON, the Costellos decided to detach themselves from the company they built from the ground up. “Leaving Optimum Nutrition was a difficult decision that we didn’t take lightly,” Mike explains. “But the opportunity to exit came along…and we were ready to reap the rewards, but it was bittersweet.”

Their R&R was to be short-lived. In 2013, Mike and Tony got the itch to put their combined 50-plus years of experience behind a new sports nutrition venture: Nutrivo. 

A short time later, Nutrivo acquired Rivalus Sports Nutrition Inc., a supplement line that prides itself on producing safe, clean sports supps for athletes—and hiring third-party organizations to verify this through extensive tests. “Consumers have become very educated and know what they’re looking for, and they’re demanding transparency.” Mike says. Adds Tony, “Nutrivo’s state-of-the-art plant was built to fit all of the latest regulations. And while that comes with added costs for us, it shows how high our commitment level is to our consumers.”

The Costellos’ exceptional business success teaches lessons that can be applied to all areas of life, including the gym. Above, they provide three crucial pieces of advice. 

Costello Keys to Success

Challenge Yourself

Achieving and maintaining peak condition takes consistent revisions to your training routine. Coast through your programs and you’ll plateau. For the Costellos, revisions involved engineering products that would A) help an athlete improve performance, and B) taste good. “Tony met with a flavor company and another company to see if they could inject air molecules into the egg protein, and the next thing you know, our protein becomes the best-selling protein in the business,” Mike says. “So we applied that principle to all of the products we sold and asked ourselves, ‘How can we make the products that people are buying better?’ That’s the mindset we used to build Optimum Nutrition, and we’re using it to take Nutrivo to the next level.”

Find the Right Partner

A good training partner knows when to lead and when to follow. Finding that balance can take time and patience but produces a huge payoff when harmony is finally achieved. “Tony has his areas [of the business] and I have mine…and we trust and respect decisions that are made,” Mike says. “There has to be a trust factor there—and there has been between us from Day 1.”

Take Risks

It’s hard to believe, but in the ’80s, gyms were just gyms. No saunas, juice bars, or masseuse setups—just training equipment and mirrors. “My dad said there was a market for [selling egg protein in the gym], so I bought a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of egg protein, put it into a gym bag, and took it to the gym,” Tony explains. “Half my inventory sold out almost immediately. The next time I ordered $600 worth of egg protein, and I sold it all.” With training, when you refuse to leave your comfort zone you’ll most certainly miss out on gains. In other words, taking calculated risks can turn into huge rewards.