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A smooth move for new nutrition shop

NutriSport manager Steph Ayers assists customer Rob Kayln, who dropped in for lunch at the new nutrtion shop and restaurant on Highway 965 in North Liberty. (photo by Lori Lindner)

By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader

NORTH LIBERTY– A new North Liberty business gives patrons a unique opportunity to have a nutritious meal and shop at the same time.
NutriSport & Smoothie, now open at 555 Highway 965, is not your average nutrition store. In addition to offering a range of nutritional supplements– such as vitamins, protein shake mixes, protein supplements and bars, weight loss products and body building enhancers– NutriSport & Smoothie is also a restaurant that offers delicious, nutritious and healthy smoothies and wraps that you can enjoy while seated at the diner-style counter or take on the run.
NutriSport & Smoothie manager Stephanie Ayers is originally from the Iowa City area, and has been involved in athletics, fitness and nutrition since high school. She has worked in the Marion NutriSport & Smoothie location with owner Doug McConnaha, building a background in business and taking nutrition classes, which brought her to the management position in the new North Liberty store.
“We are geared toward nutrition,” said Ayers. “We help customers develop their personal nutrition plans. We have proteins, pre- and post-workout supplements, aminos, vitamins, weight gainers, fat burners, energizers, protein cookies, protein brownies, protein pancake mixes…you name it, we have it. We carry what works for our customers.”
NutriSport & Smoothie’s food selections are customizable, according to an individual’s tastes or nutrition goals, as well. Recovery smoothies include add-ins targeted to boost pre- or post-workouts, for example, or a customer can order additions like whey protein, glucosamine, flax oil, milk thistle or chia seeds, among dozens of other choices. Gluten-free, low-carb and vegetarian options are on the shop’s extensive menu, and all are quick fixes for those who want lunch in a hurry without the fast-food pitfalls.
“We are all about pure nutrition,” said McConnaha. “Everything we serve is natural, and our smoothies are 100 percent real fruit, not fruit puree like some places.” Ingredients and add-ins are mix-and-match, creating nearly endless combinations for every taste, Ayers said.
Thirteen different wraps are made from delicious ingredients like chicken Caesar, Parmesan peppercorn cheese, chicken bacon ranch, sweet chili chicken or Hawaiian chicken, ham and pineapple. One tortilla choice has only eight grams of carbs, or can be ordered without a tortilla, for the carb-conscious.
Healthy and delicious, it’s part of what brings customers like Rob Kalyn of North Liberty back again and again.
“It’s really awesome. I love their wraps,” said Kalyn. “It’s convenient, the people are nice and friendly, and their information on the products is excellent. Everybody here knows their stuff.”
All NutriSport & Smoothie employees do understand the products, agreed Ayers, and she invests a lot of time doing research on all the products they sell. Many customers lack the knowledge they need to meet their personal goals, but NutriSport & Smoothie is here to help.
“Proteins are very different. Some of them you buy at discount stores have a lot of fillers, for example,” Ayers said. “Customers know they need protein, but they need to define their individual goals to get the best one for them, whether it’s to improve their workouts, lose weight, or just increase the protein intake in their diets.”
Customers are welcome to try samples, and Ayers encourages anyone with nutrition questions to stop in. She sees a wide range of people with widely-varying needs. Ayers said a growing number of people are coming into the store because they are incorporating exercise into their daily lives, but many don’t know how to begin.
“We get anyone from parents bringing in their teen athletes to people just stopping in for lunch to people in their 60s who don’t work out at all,” said Ayers. “Some of them just have questions but don’t know where to start.”
And Ayers said her staff will not oversell products just to be selling.
“It does not need to cost a fortune to meet your nutritional goals,” she said. “Sometimes, simplicity is better.”
With three Des Moines stores and two already established in Cedar Rapids/Marion, the North Liberty shop is McConna’s sixth location, but the operation is not a franchise. He wasn’t necessarily seeking to open another store, but an incidental traffic jam on Interstate 380 brought him through North Liberty one day, and he was immediately hooked.
“I was in awe in the growth of the community,” said McConnaha. “I knew it was the prefect place to put a store.”
The local businesses in the area complement NutriSport & Smoothie, he added.
“Honestly, I’ve never seen a better community for businesses that are willing to co-op and help each other out. It’s been amazing already,” said McConnaha.
The store doesn’t plan to hold its grand opening until spring, but McConnaha and Ayers want the North Liberty community to know they are ready for business.
“We just hope to make the community aware of good nutrition, and how important it is,” said Ayers.