Interview with Cytomax's Jeff "Iron" Montgomery

By Tim Crytser

If anyone knows what it takes from a fitness and nutritional standpoint to be successful in MX it has to be CytoSport Sports Marketing Guru, Jeff “Iron” Montgomery.  Iron has been with Cytomax from the beginning and has been intimately involved with the careers of two of the biggest names the sport has ever known in Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael.  In this interview Iron explains in simple terms the difference between CytoSport and all the other Energy Drink companies that are flooding the MX market, why everyone from the fastest pro to the slowest Weekend Warrior can benefit from the Cytomax line, and we dig deep into what makes Cytomax the most widely used, unadvertised product in MX.  Iron is full throttle from start to finish so get in, sit down and hold on! 

Virtual Trainer: Hey Iron, let’s start this out with a brief history of CytoSport and how you became involved with the company.
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No, this photo has not been altered....."Iron" will do anything and go anywhere to ensure his riders (Floyd Landis here) always has a Cytomax !

Jeff “Iron” Montgomery: Well, CytoSport started in early 99’.  The current owners broke off and started their own company in 99’ and established themselves with the Cytomax performance drink and then in time, not very much longer after that the company developed Muscle Milk and an array of other performance oriented proteins and other performance products.  The company was founded around the Cytomax product, but quickly spread its wings into other very important performance areas.   Now we are to the point where our product line changes every week.  We are to the point now where I can’t remember a week when we didn’t release something pretty groundbreaking.  For me, I have been promoting Cytomax as a brand on and off since early 93’.  So on and off for 14.5 years and really only minus three years from 99’, 00’, and 01’ when I left for a while to pursue other things & to continue to help people win races.  Even when I was at YoT, I was still a brand ambassador for Cytomax.  So minus those three years I have been the first real and only brand ambassador that one product has ever had, from an endurance sport standpoint.
So you said that CytoSport was created in 99’ but Cytomax has been around longer than that right?
Yes, in 99’ they founded CytoSport and the first product they built the company around, really was Cytomax.  The owners of CytoSport were involved in another company for a few years and when I was with those guys initially, we helped put the product on the map but the partners that got that original product up and running decided to split and run their own separate companies completely independent from each other.  And when these guys left they founded CytoSport and took Cytomax with them and quickly and effectively grew the catalog.

I was not involved in the advertising of Virtual Trainer when Cytomax became our title sponsor.  How is it that Cytomax became title sponsor and why?
It was quite simply that I had seen all of the other elements of Virtual Trainer from its inception and I liked many of the pieces.  I thought they were very informative and user friendly but wondered just how much people would pay attention.  I felt that there was a nice opportunity for CytoSport to get involved through our Cytomax brand because it is quite simply the best and most well respected performance drink in the World, with World championships in 20 different sports to prove that.  And I feel that we have a story to tell and we have a product that will benefit anyone in any sport.  We have, and this is a flat out fact, won more SX and MX titles than all other drinks combined. Since 93’, there hasn’t been a year where we didn’t win one or more titles. So with the knowledge that I have, coupled with the hard work that the riders have done over the years promoting a genuine product,  I felt we could add an interesting twist to an area that needed a bit more real world information that you have provided to bring people up to speed in an organic way that is legitimate.  So, I felt it was a very authentic sponsorship opportunity.  And I feel that we are the only authentic sports nutrition company on the market today.  It was a classic opportunity to get some good content out there from someone who has plowed that ground for 25 years.

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Nick Wey, along with just about everyone else in the MX industry uses Cytomax.

Who are you guys directly involved with in the MX industry as far as riders and trainers?
That is a very important question that I want to answer directly and diplomatically.  The honest version is that we have, aside from Chad Reed, literally everybody.  I can’t mention any names because most of our sponsorships have grown specifically because we have made a VERY conscious decision to fly under the radar and be nothing but a performance provider to the best riders the sport has ever seen since 93’.   For example in 93’, I worked very, very, closely with Jeremy McGrath during his first SX title as a rookie, all the way through to Ricky’s beginning.   And we were a part of all of his titles.  Every title he has was done as a result of him being involved with the Cytomax product.  Well, some of these sponsorships we felt would be in our best interest to activate…. but others, it’s made even more sense to let people determine on their own what works.  Some of the best riders to ever live, but I can’t mention their names, all believe that hands down our product has had a major impact on the performance and longevity of their careers. And within the sport all of the insiders know that that claim is factual.  Which is why we have everybody.  The trickle down effect has been unbelievable. The amount of Podium sweeps we have had, indoors and out, with that one product is staggering.  We went years and years without ever being off the podium where these riders would openly admit that the products make a tremendous difference in their overall performance.  Especially at an outdoor national when its 95 degrees and humid and the riders need to squeeze every bit of fitness from their bodies.  Days like that obviously make it more apparent.  However on a cold night at a SX in Phoenix or Anaheim the product plays just as much of a role and everybody is still using it.   All of this has played a huge role in influencing the Novices and intermediates…. You know…. The people that float the boats!  Hell, we are the only performance oriented company these guys believe in based solely on tangible performances.

That leads me to an interesting question.  Why, if everyone is using Cytomax and the product is so good, don’t we see more advertising within the sport like Monster Energy?  In other words, why don’t you guys want to advertise more that Cytomax is fueling the winners and not Monster Energy?
Well the simple answer is that Monster needs, in an effort to survive, to get themselves locked into those sorts of endemic sponsorships.  They have come to the not so brilliant conclusion that SX and MX is an invaluable marketing reality, if you want to touch that consumer.  They, in exchange and in addition to their Factory Kawi and Pro Circuit relationships, are involved in the sport financially at a very high level.  Well into 7 figures.  They are not getting a good return on their dollar in our opinion on that expenditure of millions of dollars.  They clearly have a very big marketing budget with what everyone would agree is a sub-par, mediocre product that in a real world way does nothing to enhance performance.  In fact you could make the claim that it impedes performance.  But that is neither here nor there.  They have the appearance that bigger is better.  They are selling product, but are they getting an ROI?  Probably not.  They are the PT Barnum’s of our sport now.  Hats off to them. How does that affect us?  We are getting everything for nothing and they are getting everything for emptying their wallets.  And we get a significant amount of exposure to the right people in the sport in an organic way that makes a profound difference where people know that these are the performance products that the pros use.  The Monster Energy’s of the world are looking to attach their name to what is a growing, exciting, legitimate sport.  At the end of the day, the promoters need to eat too. We are involved solely for the reason of positively impacting the performance of the riders. Period. Everything else is upside.  Now 15 years later, as a result of working with the best of the best,  even the B, C and D class riders know that Cytomax is the product that they can rely on to use in any condition, on any day to improve their performance.  It is a beautiful thing for me as an employee to watch happen.  It is the ultimate compliment to see all these guys use a legitimate product for the right reasons.  Which is why our company has become successful.  I just wish I could taste some of the pie I helped bake!

Personally, I would like to see Cytomax replace Monster as a major sponsor because it has been my experience that while the top guys in the sport may know about the benefits of Cytomax, kids out there still see the best of the best drinking from what is undoubtedly something else in a Monster Energy bottle at the end of a moto.  I get asked at least once a week about how many Monster Energy’s you should drink before training or riding.  Obviously, some people just aren’t getting it.
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Cytomax is used by athletes from all around the World in many different disciplines.  Apa Sherpa and Joby Ogwyn have used Cytomax on all 20 of their Mt Everest Summits!

You bring up a great point and let me address that.  There seems to be this big discrepancy in the overall amount of knowledge with regard to training, nutrition and fitness.  Obviously, the most successful riders the sport has ever seen are all, coincidentally, Cytomax sponsored riders whether officially of unofficially.  Every title winning rider going back to 93’ has been a Cytomax user at some point or other.  Usually while pick pocketing another company in the process.  The reason is, if performance and recovery matter, then we are truly one stop shopping.  When you really start to take a hard look at what we offer, you don’t have to look far to see that we have something that will benefit any rider or any athlete of any ability.   MX athletes are involved with such varied workouts that there is no single product or magic food that can supply what is needed for every workout.   Because the workouts in the races come in different lengths and intensities.  And there are different types of workouts that are particularly hard to recover from.  Whether you are depleting Glycogen or it’s a full on maximum Lactate workout.  Those are two totally different types of workouts.  Very few products will positively affect an athlete that needs the correct amount of Glycogen for a very long workout or whether the athlete is doing a Lactate or anaerobic workout were performance matters and you have a product like Cytomax that was designed to buffer and clear Lactate at super sky high intensities.  The reason we have been successful and I truly mean this, there are no other products on the market that address the needs of high level athletes in so many different sports.  And the great athletes have been adept at determining what it is that is going to allow them to recover.  There are all sorts of special recovery strategies because the intensity and duration of certain workouts are higher than others on any given day.  So there are general recommendations a rider can do based on the intensity and duration and type of riding a guy does.  And the best riders have learned how to address fluid loss, they know how to replenish carbs with the right kind, they know how to get inside that Glycogen window so-to-speak, and other things that go along with optimal recovery. These are areas where guys like Johnny O’ & Wardy ushered in the understanding of what recovery is all about.  We’re talking 83’ here.  There were no online trainers in 83’!  You had to get cross-eyed every week to figure it out back then.

That is all well and good for the elite athlete, but how can a product like Cytomax help the every day Weekend Warrior?
Well, when you think about it, the needs of an elite athlete and the needs of a fast B or C guy, or even a beginner are really the same.  Both athletes are pushing themselves to the limit and in some cases the slower guy has to push harder because he generally isn’t in as good as shape or have the smooth riding technique that a Pro has.  So the weekend warrior type guy has to ride himself into the ground to get results and he probably does not have his nutrition and supplementation figured out which can be problematic when you are pushing yourself to the brink every week.  So the needs of the Weekend Warrior become an even bigger issue because chances are they are missing the boat on what the needs of their bodies really are.  They need a plan.  No matter what their plan is, we make products that address performance and recovery that can make an immediate impact within a day or two of using these products.  To that end, some of these amateur riders need to understand first and foremost that their recovery plans need to begin even before they finish their workouts.  Maintaining the correct hydration and carb intake, during exercise, will improve your performance during your training sessions and help you recover more quickly.  The best guys plan ahead to have their recovery needs met immediately following each session and race.  Amateurs need to address that as well.  It is just as easy for a D class rider to drink a bottle of Cytomax Recovery as it is for top pros.  The benefits are the same.  What I tell a lot of amateur riders I am involved with is that “you have to think ahead to get ahead.”   I know it sounds cliché, but from time to time I even have to remind the best riders in the sport that you have to “think ahead to get ahead.”  Especially with regard to performance based nutrition.

The other thing that I tell guys all the time is that while Cytomax is not meant as a food substitute, it is a great product to fill the nutrition gaps left by most of our on-the-go diets. 
That is very well put and couldn’t be more accurate.  CytoSport can fill just about any dietary gap.  We don’t portray ourselves as a meal replacement company necessarily.  We make performance products.  Whether its Muscle Milk, or Cytomax, or Muscle Milk Pudding or Fast Twitch; while they may seem like niche products they really address the needs of everybody and they are absolute, classic gap fillers.  For example, through Johnny ‘O, I have been dealing with Ryan Dungey a bit.  Dungey’s workout intensity is so off the hook right now he is finding it difficult to consume enough calories to sustain himself through these very difficult marker workouts.  To that end, we make a niche product called CytoGainer, which has the types of proteins and carbs that absorb quickly, empty from the stomach quickly and provide immediate energy so that he can maintain his bodyweight and recover.  Yet it tastes like a Betty Crocker product and has made a profound difference in him filling a gap for a protein need in the middle of the day whether it’s on a Monday or in between Motos at a National.  Even the level that the top guys are at, their diets aren’t perfect and just like the Weekend Warrior they need supplements to fill the gaps.  And our products are easy to make, readily available, come in a variety of flavors to satisfy anyone and can be consumed on the go whether you are racing at a National or on the go at work.

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Check back tomorrow for part two as Iron gives his recommendations on which Cytomax products are best for the MX athlete and he explains why the other guy's Energy drinks are not what an athlete should be drinking. Until then, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at .  In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.