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Nutritional supplement business flexes its muscles

Mary Leeds and Donnie Tanner operate the new Max Muscle Sports Nutrition outlet in Grand Junction, offering both a wide variety of products and individualized counseling. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Mary Leeds and Donnie Tanner consider themselves a fairly good representation of the demographic they expect their new Grand Junction business to serve.

Leeds competes in fitness events, while Tanner maintains a hectic schedule as a crop duster, farmer and volunteer fireman. That’s not to mention their responsibilities as parents. The two say the nutritional supplements they sell at Max Muscle Sports Nutrition help them with all of their endeavors and also can help a range of customers — from elite athletes to recreational enthusiasts to people who want to enjoy better health. “It’s for all lifestyles, not just gym rats,” Tanner said.

Leeds and Tanner opened Max Muscle Sports Nutrition at 2536 Rimrock Ave., Suite 500. They serve as franchisees for a territory that covers Western Colorado.

The Grand Junction store is the 11th in Colorado for Max Muscle Sports Nutrition, a California-based company with a total of 140 outlets in 38 states. A 12th Colorado store is scheduled to open in August.

Former National Football League linebacker Joe Wells founded Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in 1991. In 2010, Entrepreneur Magazine rated the company as a top retail franchise.

Max Muscle sells a wide variety of products designed not only to improve athletic performance, but also promote health and wellness as well as weight loss. All of the products are manufactured under strict quality control processes and comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, Leeds said. Many of the supplements come in powdered form ready to mix with water, meaning customers purchase more product and less packaging, she added.

The store offers samples of all of its products and Leeds expects to also offer tastings of a sort at other venues, such as gyms and sporting events.

In addition to a variety of products, Max Muscle also offers customers individualized counseling from certified fitness nutrition coaches. Coaches help customers tailor a plan that meets their specific interests and needs. Coaches also work with trainers, athletic clubs and physicians to recommend products designed to enhance performance, accelerate weight loss and promote health.

“This is not a one size fits all. This is personal. This is your plan,” Tanner said.

Given the increasingly fast-paced lifestyles many people endure, it’s difficult for them to find time to eat the right variety of foods, Tanner said. “I’m sorry, it’s tough to live today.”

That’s where various supplements can help, whether it’s providing additional proteins or vitamins, he said.

Tanner admitted he was skeptical at first about the benefits of nutritional supplements. Leeds joked that he served as a kind of “guinea pig.” But Tanner said he soon was convinced to the extent he invested in a franchise.

Given that they serve a geographical territory with one of the most fit and health conscious populations in a state that ranks as one of the most fit and health conscious in the country, Leeds and Tanner expect to expand their operation.

They already distribute products in many areas of the Western Slope and hope to open an additional retail outlet within a year, although they’re not yet certain exactly where.

Leeds and Tanner said if Max Muscle products can help them compete and work, those products can help others, too.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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