Could Cannabis Before Exercise Help Us Hit the ‘Runner’s High’?

A CAA agent turned cannabis entrepreneur on his new venture OFFFIELD, which mixes two seemingly unlikely ingredients — cannabis and exercise — in a bid to make our workouts more effective and fun.

Tony Fur and Todd Hunter were high-flying executives whose careers had seen them reach the top of the Hollywood agency CAA.

But more than a decade into their careers, they started suffering from weight gain, back pain and general burnout — so made the conscious decision to start exercising together to improve their health.

And then when they added cannabis to the mix, they discovered their exercise reached new heights, and they experienced physical and mental benefits by making their activities more social and fun.

That led to the creation of OFFFIELD, their new CBD product designed to be taken before workouts, and they launched the brand in October after quitting their top-ranking agency jobs and going all in.

The CBD industry is young but booming following the federal legalization of the substance in 2018. The increasingly crowded marketplace can be somewhat confusing for consumers, but OFFFIELD’s mission is clear.

Their product mixes CBD and CBG with vitamin B-12, electrolytes and the compound L-theanine, derived from tea, and is designed to be consumed before exercise to help replicate the much sought-after ‘runner’s high’ without having to bust a gut to get there.

And here Tony tells their story of the personal benefits they experienced from mixing cannabis and exercise, and why they believe their product works.

OFFFIELD co-founders (L-R) Todd Hunter, Tony Fur and Bert Culha // 📸: Jim McHugh

OFFFIELD co-founders (L-R) Todd Hunter, Tony Fur and Bert Culha // 📸: Jim McHugh

By Tony Fur, Co-Founder and CEO, OFFFIELD

Todd and I have touched every facet of brand building and marketing over the course of the last 15 years. We met at CAA at the beginning of our careers, became co-heads of creative for CAA, and then co-chief creative officers of Observatory, which was essentially taking CAA marketing and spinning it out into its own agency.

During this career climb came a period of time where we hit a wall — we were burnt out, overworked and not taking care of ourselves in the process. I had thrown out my back and had a herniated disc, and my doctor said it was because I was sitting at a desk for too long every day (which was the lamest reason to share with people). I had a newborn at home that this pain really prevented me from playing with and enjoying the way I wanted to, and my work was also suffering. When I finally got back to work, I told Todd I had to do something about this, and he said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m in awful shape right now.’ So, we took it upon ourselves to fix it. Instead of saying, ‘Let’s go to the gym and just go for it,’ we decided to focus on things we really loved doing, like playing tennis and hiking. We made it a social event every Friday and eventually in an effort to really enjoy it, cannabis was introduced. The wheels started turning at that point.

Todd and I have been tracking the cannabis industry for a long time. We were very well-versed in the alcohol space from our careers as marketers, which gave us a lot of insight into the cannabis space. We were interested in this industry that was about to enter a post prohibition era. We were very familiar with post prohibition when it came to alcohol, and we saw the stories and success that came out of it. Now, we were part of the generation that was going to experience this post prohibition time for cannabis.

OFFFIELD co-founder Todd Hunter on the court

OFFFIELD co-founder Todd Hunter on the court

Prior to cannabis going recreational in California, about six years ago now, Todd and I gave a presentation to CAA executives about the future of cannabis and what our projections were. And the response was an email saying, ‘How dare you speak about illegal drugs in a public setting? I have children. This is inappropriate.’ Fast forward a few years, when we are using cannabis pretty openly playing tennis, we realized that a lot has changed.

A lot of the trends we predicted are happening now. But the difference was, there weren’t a ton of cannabis or CBD companies focused on brand and community building — what you stand for as a company beyond manufacturing. We were super fascinated with the cannabis business and big believers in its future, but at the time, we had an agency to run and loved our jobs. So, that’s where we stayed focused. The change really began when we started discovering why we were enjoying the cannabis we were consuming before working out.

On the scientific side, cannabis affects your body through the endocannabinoid system. And the endocannabinoid system in itself is a relatively recent discovery. In 1992, scientists discovered how it regulates your body all the way from your brain down to your toes. The endocannabinoid system doesn’t exist because of cannabis – it exists because we, ourselves, create endocannabinoids in our body naturally. It regulates mood, inflammation, and essentially our overall enjoyment. What they found was, when it comes to things like runner’s high, there is an elevated level of anandamide, which is endocannabinoid naturally produced in your body that creates that sensation of euphoria, pain relief, anti-inflammation and an ability to focus on what you’re doing. The only other known substance outside of the human body that’s known to create a similar effect is found in phytocannabinoids, which is cannabis.

OFFFIELD // 📸: Alex D’Souza

OFFFIELD // 📸: Alex D’Souza

A lot of this research is new and what people don’t know about the war on drugs is that while cannabis has been illegal for so long, cannabis research has also been illegal. That’s why so much of the information during the war on drugs — that stigmatized an entire generation — was based on legislation and law enforcement, not on science and doctors.

When we couldn’t find the products that really catered to our new lifestyle, we decided to start tinkering ourselves. Todd and I are marketers, so the first person we tapped was our third partner, Bert Culha. He’s an entrepreneur who had started two cannabis companies prior, and he also founded the fitness company, Cycle House. Bert helped us solidify our thesis and found that, while there were some cannabis brands who helped with recovery, there were no brands that were really focused on pre-workout consumption for fitness & enjoyment.

Our goal with OFFFIELD’s products is to mimic the effects of a runner’s high, prior to you having to hit that moment in your workout. We want to essentially guarantee it, so you can start enjoying your workout as soon as you start. If you’re running regularly, a lot of people take Advil, Ibuprofen, and things like that before their run in order to deal with the inflammation. We set out to create a natural, alternative product.

OFFFIELD co-founder Tony Fur

OFFFIELD co-founder Tony Fur

There’s this mind/body connection that you hear a lot about, but is hard to experience unless you are a professional athlete. Not thinking about your work, your bills, your family, and all the other things going on in life is very difficult. We believe that once that mind and body connection is made consistently, it’s not just going to be a fad or short bursts, but we’re going to make real lifestyle changes for the betterment of our health. Much like ourselves before we set out to change our lifestyle, two thirds of Americans do not get the activity that they need. We have higher obesity rates, much higher heart disease rates. OFFFIELD’s goal is to get people to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and self-care that’s not so performance driven — feeling like you need to get your personal best time, or like you need to be LeBron James, otherwise you might as well give up. We want to make sure the actual enjoyment of the activity itself makes your mind and body focused.

So, together with our team, we started putting together our first product. We saw incredible changes in ourselves, and that’s when we decided that this was a lot more than a passion of ours. This was an opportunity to become entrepreneurs, which is something we’ve always wanted.

OFFFIELD // 📸: Jim McHugh

OFFFIELD // 📸: Jim McHugh

We want to build a brand that is inspired by the greatest experiences of our careers —meaning fully transparent and open so people can hold us accountable. OFFFIELD as a product offering is intricately tied up in to our social good goals and helping causes around people, places and planet. For our launch we are donating 1% of our revenue towards the Last Prisoner Project, which helps 40,000 people who are currently incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses get out of prison, so they don’t have to sit in jail cells while they watch the industry bloom.

Once we got the brand to a place where we thought, ‘This is it,’ we said goodbye to our previous roles and went all in. In doing so, I feel better than ever and Todd has lost 70lbs and is looking very svelte these days.

And I don’t play tennis with him anymore, because he has gotten too good…

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