Dr. Paolo Sorbini, a pharmacist and the father of Maurizia, Giuseppe (“Pino”) and Alberto – who today are Director; Managing Director; and Chairman and CEO of Enervit S.p.A. – established Also Laboratori S.a.s. in Milan, which specialized in the physiotherapy products he imported from Germany. One could say this decision was in his blood, since he came from a family of Tuscan speziali (apothecaries) from Montepulciano.
Following a difficult period of political, social and economic unrest in Italy, the company set out in a new direction, creating and introducing onto the market Tac, the country’s first low-calorie sweetener.
Enervit and the Giro d’Italia share a long love of “clean cycling”. Thirty years of working together means 30 editions, over 100,000 kilometers and 10,000 laboratory tests conducted before, during and after the races through its modern mobile laboratory, the famous Giroclinica. This fully equipped medical and dietary assistance center is there for the competitors as they give it their all during the three-week race. The goal? To explore issues connected to nutrition and hydration in order to help cyclists refuel after cycling. Furthering our understanding of the needs of a body subjected to grueling physical exertion, these studies have allowed for the development of new formulas and a determination of how supplements and liquids are best consumed.
The story of Enervit and the Giro d'Italia is a lengthy relationship of a love for "clean" cycling. 30 years of working together has meant 30 tours, over 100,000 in-competition kilometres, and 10,000 lab tests before, during and after races, with the ever present support of the famed mobile laboratory, the Giroclinica. This has been about providing real medical and nutritional support for the riders who give their all during three weeks of racing. The goal? Investigate problems related to nutrition and hydration, and help cyclist 'refuel' after cycling. Such studies have made a real contribution to understanding what the body needs to deal with extreme physical exertion. They have helped create new formulas and improved methods for consuming supplements and drinks.
Twenty years after establishing Also Laboratori S.a.s., Paolo Sorbini created a new brand which he called Enervit, the perfect combination of the words energia and vita (“energy” and “life”). His aim was to come out with a line of products specially designed for those who practice sports. This was a quite a forward-thinking decision, given that sports nutrition was unheard of at the time and nutrition wasn’t considered to have any influence on physical performance.
This was a year brimming with initiatives. Dr. Sorbini’s love of the world of sports – which the company was growing closer to, as it had been following the Giro d’Italia for years – coupled with his love of science led him to gather around the fledgling Enervit brand a team of experts in both sports and nutrition with the aim of promoting a scientific approach to proper dieting and supplements for those practicing sports. Inspired by the famous French daily sports paper L’Équipe, his son Pino suggested they call the group “Equipe Enervit”. After over forty years, this strong, united team of doctors, scholars and technical specialists is still today committed to research. It works closely with champions and continues to write the history of sports diets and supplements, attentive to the needs of those who are physically active and have their personal wellbeing at heart.
From the company’s work with a number of athletes taking part in the 1980 Moscow Olympics came Enervit Protein, the first meal replacement designed for those who want to lose weight. “Forti e magri” (“Strong and lean”) was its slogan, and being strong and lean is what those who purchase it are aiming for. The term became so popular in Italy that it inspired the Fabbri publishing group to use it as the title of an encyclopedia about health. This success coincided with record-breaking events: that of Sara Simeoni, the first woman in the world to clear 2.01 meters in the high jump, and Maurizio Damilano, gold medal winner in Moscow. The early 1980s also marked the beginning of extensive journeys that still continue today: Mexico, Tibet, the United States, Greenland, the South Pole, Israel, Bolivia, Okinawa, Chile... The objective? To seek, discover and study the lifestyles and eating habits of the populations that have learned to live best and longest, and by doing so to anticipate, well in advance, the positive nutrition of the future, one that’s well-balanced and offers functional benefits.
Over all these years, the precious support of Equipe Enervit had given the company the honor of taking part in many champions’ endeavors. In 1984 it saw a wonderful dream come true: organizing Francesco Moser’s hour record in Mexico City. A true work of art, as important innovations in the world of cycling were introduced for the occasion, from new training methods to the development of a cutting-edge heart rate monitor called the Testequipe, from the conception of lenticular disk wheels, which improved the aerodynamics of the champion’s custom-made bicycle, to revolutionary nutrition strategies. The result? Francesco Moser managed to beat Eddy Merckx’s record and, with his 51.151 kilometers, to become part of cycling history.
But there was more than just cycling. In the world of soccer, the company began to work with Juventus F.C. Dr. Francesco La Neve, the team’s physician and a friend of Dr. Paolo Sorbini, asked Equipe Enervit’s dieticians to share their scientific knowledge and the experience they’d gained in the field of nutrition. A personalized dietary strategy was developed, and the Juventus players began to consume the nutrients they needed, especially on training days. The results were plain to see and their physical performance improved. The team went on not only to win the national championships but also to bring home international glory with Champions Leagues and Intercontinental Cups.
The Mountains, with a capital M: a world waiting to be explored and an endless passion for adventure brought together Enervit and Reinhold Messner, who was eager to complete his eight-thousanders card. With ten down and four to go, the mountain climber from Alto Adige made it all the way to the top, the first to scale all fourteen of the world’s eight-thousanders, and without supplemental oxygen. Messner had developed a scientific understanding of the sport through his experience scaling the Himalayas and the problems he’d encountered while climbing at extremely high altitudes without bottled oxygen, especially muscle fatigue and the need to replenish his body’s protein, water and salt levels. When he climbed the final peak in 1986, the Lhotse in Nepal, members of Equipe Enervit were there at the base camp, completing an important study. But the challenges and research didn’t end there. Further studies focused on the supply of special foods and supplements as Messner successfully crossed Antarctica to reach the South Pole in 1990. Then came Greenland, crossed from east to west in 1993. Finally, his attempt to reach the North Pole in 1995. His hopes were dashed when his gear sank into the Arctic Ocean during a storm, but what mattered was that he tried; after all, that too is part of the sporting spirit.
After winning two Olympic gold medals from Calgary, Canada in 1988, the champion from Bologna didn’t have the best of years, so his technical staff asked for the support of Equipe Enervit. Alberto Tomba’s physical shape soon made a comeback, and his grit and character led him back to victory. During the 1991-1992 season he marked up nine wins at the Olympics in Albertville, France, including the gold in the giant slalom and the silver in the slalom. “Tomba the Bomb” was unstoppable, and twenty years after Gustav Thöni, in 1995, he gave Italy back the overall World Cup title, with 11 victories.
This year saw an important journey to Tibet in search of botanical secrets among populations who live long lives at high altitudes. One example is the Hunza, who live, in good health, to be over 100 years old.
Another award-winning team, A.C. Milan, turned to Equipe Enervit, who placed its experience with various sports at the disposal of the team’s medical staff. At the Milanello training facilities they placed the utmost care on each personal need, leading to significant progress in athletic performance. The players were provided with detailed nutritional information, and their water and salt intake was regulated during training and matches. Italian and European victories soon began to abound.
It was a new century and a new millennium, and the company continued its strategy of exploring new horizons and looking toward the future. And so Enervit decided to meet with American biochemist Barry Sears, who was working on his innovative nutrition strategy known as the Zone diet. From this meeting came EnerZona, the name used throughout Europe for the exclusive line of products that are perfectly balanced in a 40-30-30 ratio of carbs, protein and fat. Alongside the Zone, this lifestyle embraces a steady intake of omega 3 fatty acids and polyphenols, foods rich in extraordinary antioxidant properties. Never before Enervit had anyone drawn the public’s attention to these topics, which over the years would prove to be of precious help to everyone’s wellbeing.
This was an important year for the company. It changed its name to Enervit S.p.A. and accomplished another feat, this time in the field of economics, with its inclusion on the Milan Stock Exchange.
The company studied the polyphenols of the maqui, a special plant that defends itself against extreme climates by enriching its berries with extraordinary antioxidant properties. This unique experience led to the creation of a product based on concentrated maqui extract.
The month of October marked the beginning of a close collaboration with the champion. The occasion was the most grueling race in the triathlon: the IRONMAN® World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, where he finished 273rd out of over 2,000 competitors. But Alex Zanardi already had his sights set on Rio 2016, his second Paralympics. The relationship intensified, thanks also to the precious support of Equipe Enervit. Just before his 50th birthday he took home the gold in the time trial, silver in the sprint road race and another gold in the mixed team relay with Vittorio Podestà and Luca Mazzone. The man was a legend! That same year Enervit produced 50 X Rio: Alex Zanardi, a documentary that explored the extensive physical, mental and nutritional preparations Zanardi underwent the year of the Olympics. Another work of art, which in 2017 won the prestigious “Premio TV del Moige” award.
Another milestone was the construction of a new Industry 4.0 plant in Erba, in the Como province, for the production of functional bars that could fulfill very specific needs. The avant-garde, high-tech, automated production center was entirely free of palm oil and gluten. This bold choice saw the company investing in the local area at a time when many others were delocalizing, and it proved to be a springboard toward a more international market. Behind it all was experience, know-how, technology, innovation and the desire to see a world that was ever more active and in shape.
This year, a dream came true: introducing the company’s products and nutrition strategies to the many Ironmen abroad, with the agreement covering over 40 events per year in Europe. This was an extraordinary occasion which only IRONMAN®, as the top endurance event, could offer. In fact, thanks to the strength of the brand (part of Wanda Sports Holdings), its exceptional organizational structure and its immense popularity, Enervit had the opportunity to become fully involved in many other European countries.
Where the major events are, so is Enervit. This was also true in 2019, with Vasaloppet, Maratona dles Dolomites, the Valencia Marathon, Nove Colli, IRONMAN® and more. Meanwhile, Alex Zanardi was becoming an even greater sports legend. At the Paracycling Road World Championships in Emmen, the Netherlands, he brought home two gold medals. It was mid-September and he was still going strong. A week later, at the IRONMAN® in Cervia, in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, two victories awaited him, one after the other. The first day he set the world record in the disabled triathlon, at 8h 25’ 30’’, and the very next day he competed in the 70.3. Two IRONMAN® events in two days! Enervit was there to celebrate with him. Then came 2020, a year of tragic news. Nevertheless, Enervit remained at the side of its champions, whom it continued to follow at various cycling races.
The year 2020 will go down in history. Despite the times, Enervit decided to stick by its champions’ sides and follow them in their various cycling races. There would much to celebrate. On UAE Team Emirates, Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia won the Tour de France. On Trek-Segafredo, Lizzie Deignan of the UK came out victorious in the fourth women’s edition of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. As sponsor of both teams, Enervit celebrated with both major champions.
For Enervit the year began with the colors of gold: in January, the AS Volley Lube players won the 2021 Italian Cup; Federico Pellegrino rose once again, after five years, to the highest step in the podium by winning the Cross-Country World Cup in the sprint category; and Petra Vlhová of Slovakia was proclaimed the queen of the 55th Alpine Ski World Cup. Enervit was there with them all. And in April, the EnerZona line of products returned to the headlines with the launch of EnerZona Gold snacks. Extraordinarily innovative, these are the first bars with a 40-30-30 caloric intake balance, offering important functional benefits. In June, exactly twenty years after its last national finals, Virtus Segafredo Bologna won the Italian championship, Lega Basket Seria A. In July, at only 22 years of age, Tadej Pogačar again sported the UAE Team Emirates jersey and for the second consecutive year won the Tour de France, the world’s most famous multiple-stage race. Once again, Enervit was there with its champions. Meanwhile, the company continued an initiative it had begun in 2017 with an international conference focused on positive nutrition, and established itself as Enervit: The Positive Nutrition Company, because positive nutrition is part of its DNA. It has a specific objective: to help everyone improve the quality of their life.