Saturday, June 15, 2024

How GB star Shona McCallin turned to business of mushrooms and improving daily lives

Great Britain and England star Shona McCallin has recently harnessed the health benefits of mushrooms in her recovery from concussion to co-found the new supplement brand Ten Percent Club

“In terms of wanting to help people to be better, that’s what we want,” says Olympic gold medalist Shona McCallin on co-founding her sideline business alongside her commitments as one of Britain’s top hockey players. “It just adds that extra dimension for me because I’ve been there and I know what it can feel like.”

In a wide-ranging interview, she told The Hockey Paper about her road to recovery, her new business venture, and the importance of keeping concussion at the forefront of conversations surrounding injuries.

McCallin has suffered two life-altering concussions in her hockey career and she came across Lion’s Mane, a mushroom that holds a number of benefits particularly when it comes to brain health, while she was recovering from her most recent concussion. From this, she began taking it as a supplement, and the benefits she saw inspired her to help others.

She then co-founded a new brand, Ten Percent Club, as a result, with the hope that their products will not only be able to support people going through similar experiences to the ones she’s had but also to improve daily lives in a variety of other areas.

“During my second concussion, I started doing a little bit of reading about things that could potentially help. It’s such an ever-evolving space in terms of treatment and rehabbing, it’s still such a new space. I came across a mushroom called Lion’s Mane and started reading more about that. It’s the most well-researched mushroom and there’s some really promising research about brain injuries and helping those,” McCallin explained.

“I started taking it and then randomly on a dog walk I rang one of my good friends who I’ve known for a while and we just started speaking. He’s got a few businesses and I asked him what he was up to, and said ‘I’m thinking of starting this new business, have you heard of these mushrooms’, and I went ‘Yes, yes I have’! From that conversation the stars just aligned and we joined up together, co-founded the Ten Percent Club, and here we are now,” she added.

Her company currently sells four mushroom-based supplements with different focuses, and they aim to expand to a larger range eventually.

One product, in particular, focuses on brain cell regeneration through the use of the all-important Lion’s Mane mushroom. Three further products, all containing different mushrooms with specific benefits,  have been produced to help people achieve their full potential. For some people, this will be achieving peak athletic performance, for others, this will be to improve their day-to-day lives. The brand has a real focus on helping everyone, not just elite athletes.

McCallin said: “At the moment we’ve got four blends, once we’ve got our feet on the ground and fully launched and up and running we will expand our range but we wanted to hit the target market. The first one we’ve got is the Unwind and Sleep blend which is Informed Sport tested which means it’s fully safe for athletes, it’s gone through rigorous testing. It essentially helps people regulate their sleep a bit more, have deeper sleep, fall asleep quicker, and control stress levels and cortisol levels, those are the main benefits.

“Then we’ve got a Brain Boost product which is 100% Lion’s Mane which is the most popular mushroom out there and that has some really significant and good research in terms of brain cell regeneration, focus, cognition, and brain health. It has been linked to helping cognition when it comes to people with Alzheimer’s and also my injury, concussion, essentially a brain injury, and helping with brain cell repair with that. It’s very much the brain mushroom, they call it the smart mushroom.

Shona McCallin added Commonwealth gold to her medal collection PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS ADY KERRY

“And then there’s the Cardio + blend which is the Cordyceps mushroom blend, this mushroom is known as the energy one. It’s aimed at sustained energy throughout the day without the crashes that we often get with coffee, but also has some really strong research in terms of ATP production, improving aerobic base and also increasing your threshold to lactic acid. It’s very much aimed at endurance athletes.”

“Finally we’ve got an energy and immunity one which is a bit more of an all-round one. It contains Chaga which is another mushroom which is really high in antioxidants. We’ve got four at the moment, looking to hopefully increase that when we’re a bit more established. We’ve been going now for a month and things have been going really well,” she said with pride.

The huge impact on the livelihoods of those affected by concussion has been something that McCallin has unfortunately experienced first-hand.

“It’s been significant. When I talk about my concussions I do use the word significant,” she said with a salient pause.

“For the first one, I was out for about 11 months. There were some tough times in that. It strips your life back essentially and makes your life very simple as you’re unable to do loads of things. The second one was about half the time, I think it was about four to four and a half months by the time I picked up a hockey stick again.

“It took my life away again a little bit for about four weeks of that. I had very minimal contact with the outside world, technology was gone, I was on my own a lot, unable to do things, in pain with headaches, and just living a very simple, controlled life. It is significant but with the right kind of treatment of it which I 100% had this time around thanks to the guys at GB Hockey and also the Hobbs rehabilitation centre that I went to, I recovered really well,” she added.

McCallin is also acutely aware that the support offered to her in her recovery is not available to everyone.

“I personally know how fortunate I am to get the advice and the help and support that I needed for mine. I was seeing a doctor twice a week, I had physio cover, I had referrals to concussion specialists, and I fully understand that people aren’t always in that position where they’re able to have that support.

“There are certainly some really good places to start. Headway is a UK-wide charity that did a lot for me, certainly during my first concussion and are really well-experienced in terms of advice and resources and helping people with head injuries not just concussion.

“I was really lucky to get down to the Hobbs concussion clinic down in the New Forest which is where Alex Danson-Bennett went as well, and the guys there were superb. They’re so knowledgeable in the specialist field and they really helped me and guided me through my recovery, working closely with the medics at GB Hockey,” she said.

For McCallin, not only did co-founding Ten Percent Club fulfill an additional focus away from the hockey pitch, in particular, while recovering from concussion, but it is also something that closely aligns with her morals.

“It kind of links to me and my values and what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. I always want to find ways where I can be better. These products can hopefully help people be better in whatever capacity, we’re not just focused on elite athletes. If you look at the usage of mushroom supplements it’s a wide range from 16 to 90.”

Find out more on Ten Percent Club and Headway

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