By: Laura Schulte
Kayla Ermeling is finally living her dream of helping to make downtown Wausau a little healthier.
Ermeling opened Ignite Nutrition, a smoothie bar and fitness club located at 515 Third Street, for the first full day on Monday. She held a soft opening over the weekend and was blown away by how many people showed up.
Ignite Nutrition adds a whole new menu to the downtown, bringing a healthy, lower-calorie option for lunch or breakfast. There are 24 smoothies on the menu, and all are 250 calories or fewer.
Ermeling, 23, graduated from Wausau West High School in 2012. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, which is where she developed her passion for healthy living. After gaining more weight than she was comfortably with during a study abroad trip to Mexico, she turned to a nutrition club to help her learn to treat her body better. It worked for her. Once she realized all a club could accomplish within a community, she decided to move back to her hometown and start a nutrition club of her own.
There's more to the business than just smoothies, too. For $8, each customer gets a small "shot" of flavored aloe, which can help soothe the stomach and aids with digestion, Ermeling said. Then the customer selects a flavor of iced tea, which helps to boost energy and metabolism. Then comes the smoothie, rounding out the entire experience for the customer.
Each customer gets a cup of tea to sip on while they wait for their smoothie at Ignite. The tea is meant to boost energy and metabolism, Ermeling said.
Now that Ignite is open, Ermeling is excited to start helping community members get on track with their health. She said that she offers free nutrition coaching, which consists of a wellness profile to help customers achieve their goals safely. In addition to the nutrition coaching, she's also working to bring in a yoga instructor for weekly classes that will be free with the donation of a canned food item.
Ermeling pours the smoothies into a cup before serving them on Sept. 20.
Ermeling doesn't want community members to be intimidated by the idea of fitness, either. It doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming, she said. After all, she once was the one looking for help when it came to losing weight and taking care of her body.
"We're not scary," she said. "Getting healthy, losing weight, building muscle— we've done that too."