There's a new kid on the "Weight-loss Club" block in Minot.
Like several other well-known national weight loss centers, Minot Nutrition Addiction, which opened on Saturday, offers nutrition counseling, food products and tailored weight programs, but owner Mark Hoffman said his company takes a different approach to both service and product quality.
"What makes us different is that first, every product we use is pharmaceutical-grade meaning that you can't find it at a GNC or other health store and secondly, there is no monthly fee. Customers can come whenever they want to and only pay a small fee per visit," he said.
According to the company's Web site, the pharmaceutical-grade products, called Herbalife, were created using the guidance of three "distinguished doctors and reknowned nutrition experts" and are meant as a meal replacement, coming in the form of shakes, protein bars and vitamin supplements.
For $6 per visit, customers will receive a shot of aloe vera, which Hoffman said soothes the digestive system, a 16-ounce green tea energy drink which burns 100 calories and a Herbalife meal replacement shake with their choice of add-on product such as extra protein, fiber or aloe.
"These shakes have 25 grams of protein and the perfect combination of fat and carbohydrates for only 200 to 250 calories and we don't use milk in these shakes so they are perfect for people who are lactose-intolerant or have allergies related to milk," Hoffman said.
While any person can come in for the $6 treatment, those who would like to purchase the vitamins, supplements and other products for home use must first have a body analysis done where the person's height and weight is used in conjunction with a scientific slide rule instrument to determine body fat. Hoffman, a certified wellness coach, and two other employees will conduct the screenings and will advise customers on the proper diet management program depending on their goal of gaining or losing weight or maintaining their current size.
"Customers must go through a wellness evaluation because No. 1, we want to make sure they know how to utilize the products and No. 2, they take what they really need instead of what they think they need," he said.
Taking a cue from a successful TV show, Hoffman said the Nutrition Addiction will also host a six-week weight-loss challenge in which corporations, individuals and groups can participate. The cost is $30 per person with a maximum of 25 participants in any one six-week session and each participant must agree to come in once per week to get weighed, measured and receive general nutrition counseling. The purchase and use of the company's Herbalife products is not required but encouraged. All of the proceeds from the challenge will be given back as a cash prize to the top two participants, which will be determined by the one who loses the most inches and the other by who has the highest percentage of weight loss.
To help with these programs, Hoffman said he is looking into setting up an internship opportunity at the store for students at Minot State University who are taking classes in health education or fitness.
Although Nutrition Addiction will operate Monday through Friday, the company opened its doors for the first time on the final day of the State Fair, Saturday, August 1.
"I want(ed) to start off slow and easy so that we don't have people waiting in long lines while we are figuring everything out," Hoffman said. "Once we get going, though, I hope to serve between 100 and 200 customers per day."
While the actual opening of the store was designed to move slowly, Hoffman's business plan is not as he plans to open two other Nutrition Addiction stores in Minot, one on South Broadway and the other near Arrowhead Shopping Center.
"I've seen these (Herbalife distributing stores) in towns like Grand Rapids (Minnesota) which has a population of 6,000 and a 10 percent unemployment rate that easily top national sales charts (of the company). I traveled around the country visiting other clubs and found it to be viable business that would help people," he said. "With (Minot's) unemployment so low, I thought, 'What better place to start than Minot, which is booming?'"