From the left

From the left

‘Workout’ leads to Core idea

Manually digging post holes would leave most people with blisters and sore muscles.

Manually digging post holes would leave most people with blisters and sore muscles.

Mike Kadar walked away with the inspiration for a unique fitness product.

The strength and conditioning coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League recalled how, a dozen years ago, he helped build a fence on his father’s farm west of Elnora. He was using a long bar to pry the clay loose in the deep holes he was digging.

“I noticed it was a huge core workout.”

Kadar, who is a former Red Deer College Kings player and coach, saw the potential for a device that could duplicate that workout.

He shared his enthusiasm with Kregg Koch, a friend in Los Angeles who was a patent attorney and engineer.

Koch offered to partner with Kadar and help design the equipment.

They worked through a series of prototypes and secured intellectual property protection for the invention.

“It’s probably been the last seven years that we got all the patents lined up,” said Kadar.

The result is Core Stix.

Developed around fibreglass rods that are inserted into a fixed base and can be bent in every direction, it serves as a platform for more than 100 exercises.

These target virtually every part of the body, with different rods providing varying levels of resistance.

“You can do cardio on it, you can stretch on it, you can do strength training, you can do a multitude of different things with it,” said Kadar.

Core Stix has been endorsed by celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, among others, and is used by the likes of Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight contender Tyron Woodley and pop star Janet Jackson, he said.

“She’s got one that she travels with.”

The product has earned favourable reviews from Men’s Health and Shape magazines, and been promoted at trade shows across North America.

Colleen Manning, owner of Studio Pilates in Red Deer, saw Core Stix at shows in San Diego and Toronto, and now has five of the units in her studio.

“We love it,” she said, noting that the workouts appeal to men and women, and can be geared to the abilities of all users.

“Anybody can do the same exercises with different tension.”

Al Parada, who operates Can-Pro Athletic Training Centre in Red Deer, is also a big fan of Core Stix.

“They’re awesome,” he said. “We use them in just about all of our training now.”

Parada likes the fact the equipment is multifunctional, easy on users’ joints and suitable for all ages.

This kind of feedback is music to Kadar’s ears.

“When you start with an idea and you kind of see it through, it’s pretty cool in itself. But having people email you or call you from across the globe and they tell you how much they love your product, it’s pretty cool as well.”

Not surprisingly, Core Stix can be found in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training room.

“I’ve got routines where I’ve got a handful of guys who come in after games and use it,” said Kadar, who in addition to being certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the United States, has a diploma in massage therapy, and training in athletic therapy and acupuncture.

He’s enthused about Core Stix’s potential, pointing out that in addition to gyms, it’s being used in hospitals, schools and rehabilitation facilities.

His company has a handful of distributors in the United States, and just sent some 75 units to an agent in Australia. It’s also talking to a potential rep in Brazil.

Ultimately, said Kadar, Core Stix should find its way into stores.

“Once we build the hype and people are aware of the product, I think it’s going to be pretty easy to get into that circle.”

After playing minor hockey in Delburne and Trochu, Kadar joined the Red Deer College Kings in 1987. He spent the 1990-91 season with Melville in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, before returning to the Kings in 1992.

He recalls being coached at RDC by Mike Babcock, who is now head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, and Ray Bennett, now an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues.

Kadar played with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns while completing a bachelor of arts degree in physical education. He also worked with the Spokane Chiefs and Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League, before returning to Red Deer College as an assistant coach in the late 1990s.

In 2002, Kadar made the jump to the Los Angeles Kings organization. He soon became the NHL team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Kadar moved into the same position with the Penguins in 2007, and was with the team when it won the Stanley Cup in 2009. He even brought the cup to Elnora, where his parents still live.

“I come home every summer.”

Asked if his father takes credit for Core Stix, as a result of exposing his son to post-hole digging, Kadar laughs.

“He’s brought it up a few times, trust me.”

Additional information about Core Stix can be found online at