FAIRMONT - The owners at the newly opened Enliven, an independent distributor for Herbalife, are quick to say they aren't operating a retail store.
"We're basically a nutrition club," said Sandy Tigges, one of four partners - Tigges, Ryan Yager, Chad Slagle and Julie Waldstein - who are commuting to Fairmont from Iowa to run the venture. Enliven is located at 722 E. Blue Earth Ave.
What they do sell are "memberships." A daily membership of $6.50 buys a shot of aloe, a glass of iced or hot tea, and a choice of 55-plus smoothie flavors. The aloe is promoted to help aid digestion; the herbal tea is a tasty, healthy replacement for soda; and a 16-ounce smoothie is low in calories but packed with 24 grams of plant-based protein.
Ryan Yager mixes a chocolate raspberry smoothie at Enliven in Fairmont, while partner Sandy Tigges looks on.
"It builds energy," Yager said. "Around 3, 4 o'clock, I used to fall asleep, but now I just fly right on through it."
Whipping together a banana cream pie smoothie for a member who stopped by in the afternoon, he told the woman, "This is the best one yet."
"You say that about every one I get," she said, laughing.
Clearly she's a regular, along with her co-worker. As the two women waited for their drinks, they plied Enliven's owners with questions about how to mix up their smoothies at home - recipes aren't a secret and the products are available for purchase.
Another client, running through the door for her second time that day, ordered up a smoothie and raspberry ice tea for the road, clearly in a hurry.
"I don't have time for lunch today," she said, "so I decided to have a smoothie instead."
The partners at Enliven are glad to mix up to go orders, but they also like to talk with members about various ways they can improve their quality of life.
On display at Enliven is a "Wall of Shame" that features items like a hamburger and fries, a powdered donut and packaged nutrition bars, all of which are used as tools to educate people about the products they put into their bodies.
The "fresh" food, for instance, will look the same month after month, thanks to the preservatives used in many of our every-day foods. And a closer look at the label for the nutrition bars shows they really aren't very nutritious after all, Tigges said.
"Our whole thing is based on cellular nutrition," Tigges said. "... We're not replacing doctors - we want to team with doctors, if anything. But getting your cells healthy has an effect on everything else."
Tigges is obviously sold on Herbalife. Her son, who plays football at the college level, drinks the smoothies to gain weight, with an Herbalife additive to control an overactive thyroid. Tigges drinks the same smoothies to lose weight, while using another Herbalife product that she says helps with her low blood sugar.
"High blood pressure, that's me," said Yager, who used to down fast food on a regular basis when he drove truck for a living. These days, he's following a healthier lifestyle, and it shows in his appearance.
The partners at Enliven are in the process of planning challenges that focus on different aspects of nutrition, like protein, reading food labels, fiber and fast foods. There is a cost to participate in the challenges, with winners receiving cash prizes.
"People can be in the challenge without using our product," Tigges said.
As an Herbalife distributor, Enliven doesn't have official hours, but the club is typically open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. That doesn't mean the doors close in the afternoon, however. This is when partners are free to do wellness evaluations.
Enliven offers members free body-scan analyses to determine lean body mass, as well as taking weight and measurements, and creating health care goals for each member's specific needs.
The number is (507) 238-2010, for anyone wanting to double-check in the evening to see if Enliven is open for business.