I’ve been officially retired from rugby and in business for about 12 months now, launching PILLAR Performance in mid-2021.
There’s a lot I still miss about footy, it was the subject of my complete and total focus for such a long time, but towards the end, I became more comfortable leaving some elements behind.
I was privileged enough to play rugby professionally for nearly 10 years, most of which with the NSW Waratahs – the team I supported as a youngster. Representing the Waratahs and NSW is something I am immensely proud of, because getting that far, or even finishing on my own terms always seemed so unlikely.
The reality is, I am probably better known for my injury journey than for my exploits on the field, which unbeknownst to me, would be the catalyst for PILLAR Performance.
Injuries cruelled the early part of my career, consecutive ACL ruptures had me out of action for almost three years. I would tear my ACL a third time not long after and that was when I thought it was curtains on my rugby playing days.
A defect in my left knee was eventually uncovered as the source of these ACL injuries, and with that I took one last crack at footy – undergoing complete tibial osteotomy on my left leg.
It was a brutal procedure and in truth, I had no right to return to play, but with a committed surgeon and rehab team I got back on the field and carved out several more years of rugby at the professional level.
That return to rugby came at a cost though, while I was able to play and my recurring ACL issue was gone – my knee cartilage nearly non-existent.
The medical advice on the remainder of my career was simple – ‘enjoy it while it lasts because you don’t have long’. Whilst I was determined to push on as far as my body would allow, I was also taking excessive amounts of anti-inflammatories to get me there.
This is where my attitudes towards micronutrition and the concept for PILLAR were formed.
Looking to get away from the harmful side effects of anti-inflammatories, I turned to Omega-3 fish oil.
This not only extended my career beyond the end-point I’d originally been given by my surgeon, it opened my eyes to the world of micronutrition and its benefits to elite athletic performance.
This is why PILLAR was created. A sports micronutrition range, purposefully formulated at clinical strength to meet the needs of high performers.
Elite athletes globally are educated and prescribed with micronutrition to aid performance, yet high-performance programs have had to make do with products that don’t meet their needs for years – formulations for mass consumption rather than with elite outcomes in mind.
I believe micronutrition is missing within the sports nutrition market, which has primarily focused on macronutrients – carbs, fats and protein – for too long.
Whilst these are integral to performance, I felt the nutrition puzzle was not that simple and macro’s are only half of the solution. In reality, the way to fuel health and performance is much more complex, and arguably the micros – vitamins and minerals – are the heavy hitters in an optimal functioning body.
These ‘invisible nutrients’ are critical to immune function, hormone and enzyme production, digestion, cognitive function; and in my case, joint health and longevity.
This is why we’ve developed a clinical strength, batch tested range that addresses joint health, immunity, recovery and energy – supporting the micronutrient needs of those who are pushing their bodies to the limit.
My hope is that PILLAR Performance can give athletes of all kinds the benefits that micronutrition brought to the back half of my career, and we’ve teamed up with some of the best minds in nutritional science, nutrition and strength and conditioning to make that possible.
– Damien Fitzpatrick, PILLAR Founder