Matt and Austin Harris: Choose to eat better

The fitness philosophy of the brothers behind Health Warrior is easy for anyone to follow—make good choices, starting with what you put in your body. The rest will follow.

It’s easy to be intimidated by people whose lives revolve around fitness. But everyone has to start somewhere. We asked the same five questions to the personalities behind five local fitness-oriented establishments, and all week, we’ll be sharing their stories, in their words.

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We don’t see any reason not to come clean: we sought out the Brothers Harris from Health Warrior purely because we love their chia bars so much. These little guys (the bars, not the brothers) are as delicious as they are nutritious–a far cry from the hundreds of sugary bars all trying to pass themselves off as healthy.

Inspired by the chia-chowing Aztec warriors, Matt and Austin have built their whole brand (right here in RVA) around helping other people experience the power of the little tiny seed that has made such a big difference in their own lives.

The coldest day in recent history, a sunrise river run, and an RVANews staffer who will not forgive us anytime soon. From left to right: Lauren Eubank, Matt Harris, Austin Harris, and Shane Emmett.

The coldest day in recent history, a sunrise river run, and an RVANews staffer who will not forgive us anytime soon. From left to right: Lauren Eubank, Matt Harris, Austin Harris, and Shane Emmett.

What does “fitness” mean to you?


Fitness means health, wellness, and strength to me. Health–because eating well starts one on the right path. Everyone feels better after eating a healthy meal or snack. Wellness–because creating a workout regimen, either at the gym, yoga, or simply walking the dog every day gets someone moving in a positive direction. And, finally, strength–because eating well and sticking to a workout routine creates strength of mind, body, and soul.


“Fitness” can mean so many different things to different people. To me personally, fitness means overall wellness in body and mind. It’s not only being in good physical shape, but also eating well (nutrient-dense, whole foods!) and taking the time to rest and reflect. I think the most “fit” people that I know, treat fitness as a lifestyle–it’s not all about diets or cleanses or bootcamps, but rather making good daily choices that, when compounded over time, lead to improved health and happiness.

How did fitness find you?


I grew up on a farm not far from Richmond, so working and playing outside with my brothers and cousin was always a part of my life. I can’t say I always ate healthy–it was good country cooking, but being outside as a kid and playing sports kept me fit. As I got older, it was just an outlet to stay in shape. It always made me feel better to get some exercise in every day.

The focus on healthy foods and superfoods in particular came much later in life. My brother Austin, CFO of Health Warrior, introduced me to chia when Health Warrior was started, and it’s been a staple of my diet ever since. I put chia seeds in my cereal and eat the chia bars throughout the day for a boost of energy. But eating and drinking well has definitely kept me fit. I still enjoy getting outside and breaking a sweat, it makes me feel alive.


Having grown up on a farm and attended a high school requiring after-school athletics, I’ve always been inclined to stay on the move. My physical fitness began with cross-country and track in high school, then continued after college with brief stints with gym workouts and running. Over time, that evolved into marathons, triathlons, and distance cycling. Having joined Health Warrior, I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for overall nutrition, the state of food in America, and the benefits of eating real, plant-based food.

What’s your personal roadmap for staying fit?


I used to wake up very early in the morning and either head to the gym or go for a run in the Fan. When at the gym, I start on the treadmill and, depending on the day, will do a full upper or lower body workout. I try never to do the same workout twice because I like the variety and need to keep the body working. Since my newborn baby has been home, it has been easier to work out in the evenings with longer weekend morning workouts.


I think the key to a successful fitness regime is variety. I’ve found that I need to regularly change up my routine to stay interested and motivated in my workouts. For most of the last five years, I worked with a trainer, three days per week, on strength training and high-intensity cardio work, all supplemented by regular running and cycling on the weekends. Most recently, I’ve transitioned to CrossFit (I attend CrossFit Addict on Dabney Road), which provides a great, tough group workout at high intensity in an energetic team environment. My personal roadmap for staying fit reflects variety of exercise, healthy eating, adequate rest, and staying on the move.

How are you helping to keep Richmond fit?


Health Warrior’s mission is to make radically convenient, nutrient-dense, “super snacks” with superfoods as the main ingredients. Further, we want to make our foods accessible to as many people as possible–in Central Virginia and beyond. Sadly, most of the snacks that have become staples of the American diet are full of sugar, salt and fat. Health Warrior’s products aim to reverse that trend. We are most known for our chia bars, which are low in sugar and are jam-packed with nutrition in the form of omega-3, fiber, and vegan protein. Our 100-calorie chia bars provide a lot of nutrition with a relatively low number of calories.


Working for Health Warrior has definitely allowed the company and its Warriors, like myself, to share a strong philosophy of wellness with communities around the country. Being headquartered in Richmond gives us a unique opportunity to work with many groups and associations, and share both our story and our exceptional products. Educating prospective customers about the health aspects of chia seeds is extremely rewarding. As a company, we believe in participating in the community and becoming a positive influence in health and wellness.

If you could encourage people to make one change in their lives in order to become more fit, what would it be?


Small everyday choices can collectively make a big impact on one’s fitness. Even simple acts like routinely taking the stairs or opting for a parking spot that’s farther away can positively impact physical fitness over time. With respect to nutrition, I’d encourage people to eat whole foods, plants whenever possible, and avoid sugars. And take time for yourself! The benefits of proper rest, combined with exercise and a healthy diet, are amazing.


I believe that eating healthy and simple foods is the first step in becoming fit. Once a person feels better, then they can start making the transformational changes to their overall well being such as working out, finding a hobby, and enjoying the outdoors. Being fit is about feeling positive about one’s self and enjoying life.

Visit Health Warrior’s website to learn more, and find their chia bars at all sorts of local spots, including Ellwood Thompson’s and Union Market.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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