By Elissa Maudlin
In a nutrition club that sells healthy energy drinks and protein shakes that “taste like dessert,” New Pal Nutrition owner Holly von Buchler stands behind the drink bar and talks with customers, wanting them to “walk out in a better mood than when they came in.” Plants stand in areas of the club, chairs designed to hold anyone’s body weight hang from the ceiling and a sign that reads “Stay awhile” looks on from the wall.
One customer, Kelley Stillabower, was staying with a friend near New Pal Nutrition but said she would make the drive from her home for the drinks.
“[Buchler’s] place is the place with the best drinks,” she said, having come in three to four times that week.
Buchler said most customers are recurring and come in daily or multiple times a week. Because of this, she gets to know “their families, their stories [and] their lives.”
Her start didn’t come from the nutrition field. She was an accountant for 18 years after college and started working in a nutrition club in Greenwood where she fell in love with the products and the atmosphere of the club. It became “[her] happy place.”
“I fell in love with being there and meeting the customers,” she said. “Being behind a desk all the time, you don’t get much interaction with people. So [I liked] being able to be in the club and see the people you’re having an impact on.”
Buchler knew she wanted to make a change from her accounting position due to a lack of work-life balance before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, during the pandemic when she was working remotely, the balance became easier and she didn’t want to go back to the office.
“I just felt like that wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” Buchler said. “My heart wasn’t there. I realized during the pandemic how much my kids needed me at home and how much I needed to be at home.”
When she and her family were taking a trip to Frosty Boys near where New Pal Nutrition is currently located, there was a sign in the window saying the building was available.
“If there’s going to be a sign for me to do something, it has to be like, ‘This is what you’re doing,’ because I am so indecisive,” Buchler said. “… and that was where I was like, ‘Okay, this is what I’m supposed to do. Like that was my sign right there.’”
On June 20, 2021, New Pal Nutrition opened as a nutrition club with protein shakes and healthy energy drinks from products from Herbalife, nutrition coaching and the ability for customers to buy the products and make the drinks and shakes at home.
She wanted to provide healthy options for people because the healthy drinks and shakes from the other nutrition clubs are what helped her lose weight and have more energy. She calls the products “healthy fast food.”
“I feel like a lot of people want to be healthy … [but] in everyone’s lifestyle right now, everybody’s so busy,” Buchler said. “… so being at home and making a home-cooked healthy meal all the time is not really an option.”
Megan Johnson, a customer who comes to the nutrition club multiple times a week, said via email that she feels confident when coming to the shop that she’s fueling her body with products that are healthy.
There are other nutrition clubs from Herbalife, including a location in Greenfield called Greenfield Nutrition IN.
At New Pal Nutrition, the shakes are meal-replacements and have 7-24 grams of protein, 9 g of sugar, 1 g of fat and are 250 calories or less. The healthy energy drinks are not meal-replacements.
However, some customers didn’t just talk about the products, they also talked about the staff. Johnson said via email that Buchler and the staff give excellent customer service and are friendly.
Buchler said another customer referred to the business as a bar and said she gets her coffee but also her “talk[ing] in.”
“It’s like the bars that everyone’s like, ‘Cheers,’ everyone knows your name,” Buchler said. “You walk in and I can tell you what they’re gonna get, what their husband gets, what their kid gets.”
Steven Bales, a customer who usually comes to the club three times a week, said via email that Holly and the team know he’s going to get an Energy Bomb — the name of a drink New Pal Nutrition serves — everytime he comes in.
“From day one, they have treated me (and all customers) like family,” Bales said via email.
Another customer, Kristin Cowden, said via email that she started coming to the club when it opened and was happy to get a healthy shop so close to home. She also said that Buchler and other staff members were “always smiling and cheerful.”
One notable interaction Buchler said she had with a person while working the business didn’t come from a customer — it came from a FedEx driver who wasn’t very talkative. It became her mission to get him to talk to her.
“One day, he had told me he was not going to be here the next week … and then he kind of turned as he was walking out the door and was like, ‘Well, you know, I lost my wife last December. So I’m trying to save up for her headstone,’” Buchler said. “…I just felt like something told him to tell me and there was a reason I heard it.’”
Eventually, her, the employees and some customers raised $750 to help with the headstone and they handed the money to him in November.
“He just bawled and he was like, ‘You know, people don’t do that for people like me,’” Buchler said.
Another customer told her that he’d miss New Pal Nutrition when moving because the staff knew him and his family and “took care of [them].”
Buchler said she feels like the business is impacting families in New Palestine and “… at the end of the day, that’s why [she’s] doing it.”
“It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of hours. It’s hard. But it is one of the most fulfilling things you can do,” she said. “ … don’t expect to go in and make millions or anything. But you know, you’ll go to bed with a happy heart I guess.”