Athens homes a lengthy list of restaurants and eateries, some of which have become staples within the community. For many, Court Street serves as the destination for morning coffee runs, leisure lunches, and late-night cravings.
Whether it’s Union Street Diner’s breakfast, Donkey Coffee’s steamed brew or Broney’s wings, it’s hard not to indulge in these local delicacies. Despite the popularity of these local food hubs, Ohio University graduate Stephen Adams believed there was an absence.
Adams realized there weren’t restaurants targeting people who wanted healthier food options. So, he decided to open up one of his own: a nutritional shake shop.
Adams, who served as the president of the fitness organization, “Fitness Odyssey,” admits he’s obsessed with fitness. It’s his lifestyle; it’s always been. Following his fragmented football career at OU, Adams decided to turn his appreciation for health and nutrition into a career.
He started the organization Fitness Odyssey, which held various fitness camps on campus. And in 2014, Adams became a representative for the marketing corporation, Herbalife. The organization distributes nutritional supplements and personal care products.
As a Herbalife representative, Adams encourages people to try their products and works with them as their health coach. He prefers to remain active on campus, as he says it’s where he’s made most of his connections. Through Herbalife, Adams has had the opportunity to attend conventions around the country. There, he’s met hundreds of people whose lifestyles reflect his own.
The people he met not only became his closest friends but also contributors to his shake shop, Odyssey Nutrition. His mission, Adam says, isn’t only to build his company, but also to instill a healthier community in Athens.
“It’s an opportunity for growth,” Adams said. “Not just for me but my team. We felt this is the next step for making a larger community impact.”
After receiving a flyer promoting the opening of the shop, I walked to 30 E. State Street to try one of the shakes. When I walked in the store front, my friends Gabby Morgan and Mike Curry, who I met through the Fitness Odyssey organization, were at the counter. The two greeted me with a smile when I stepped inside. They looked as anxious to prepare me a shake as I was to taste one.
Morgan sat me down and handed me a sheet of paper. On the sheet, there were questions asking about my fitness goals for the year. As I filled the survey out, I looked around to scope the environment.
The place had a spacious and comforting glow, as if one had stepped into my own kitchen. The checkered floors were freshly waxed, and in the store’s center was a counter with 6-8 chairs along its edges. Behind the counter were the products, of course, all Herbalife certified.
I handed Morgan the sheet and began looking at the menu, which was had over 50 shake options. The flavoring preferences varied from orange crème to white chocolate covered strawberry. Morgan explained that there was a three-step process, the first of which was a taste of aloe juice. Morgan poured me a mandarin flavored aloe shooter in a small, plastic cup. I grabbed it, laughed at its resemblance to a shot of vodka, sipped it, and marveled at its naturally sweetened taste.
Gabby then fixed me a raspberry tea, realizing afterward that I should’ve mixed it with the ale shot. I drank it as she explained the health benefits attributed to the product. It too, was refreshing.
I glanced at the menu again to decide my flavors for the shake – the final step in my nutritional experience. Indecisive in my selection, I stuck with what always works: strawberry and banana. Within five minutes, Morgan prepared the shake in an enlarged cup, which blended all the vitamins and grams of plant-based protein. I grabbed a large blue straw, preparing to take my first sip. I sunk the straw in to the shake, watching as it fell like a foot through winter snow, and began indulging in its nourishing taste.
The smoothie was as savoring as any other I’d ever consumed. With each sip, my stomach grew fuller as my body began intaking all the enriched ingredients listed on the preparation sheet. Between each mouthful, Morgan and Curry expressed the importance of the shop’s opening and the positive reception they received from people in the community.
“They’re saying they’ve been wanting a healthy place like this for so long because Athens doesn’t have a lot of healthy options,” Morgan said.
“I’d say we are inspiring people to live a healthy active lifestyle. That’s what we do as health coaches here.”
For them too, fitness is their lifestyle; it’s always been. Even more so, their love for a healthy lifestyle has translated into a love for one another. They’re a family. And the shop’s opening, in a way, is them welcoming the Athens community to their home – their kitchen.
Once the time reached 4 p.m., they prepared to close the shop down for the day. After cleaning the counter and washing the materials, Curry and Morgan grabbed their items to leave. Before they headed out, Adams pulled up to the store to check the day’s revenue. As he opened the register, he and Gabby stopped to hug Mike before he left, urging him to be safe on his drive home.
Before my departure they granted me a hug as well, thanking me for stopping by the shop. For a moment, I felt I was a part of the family; like my invitation became a residency in the house of Odyssey Nutrition. Adams believes Odyssey Nutrition shouldn’t serve as a shake shop, but a place of inspiration through the practices of nutrition.
“Giving students and community members both a place where they can get great nutrition, great taste, and a positive environment,” Adams said. “There is nowhere else around that provides all three like this.”
Adams views the shop’s opening as an opportunity for many reasons. There, he’s able to draw in clients under his mentorship, encourage students to join Fitness Odyssey, and make his passion a profitable one. But more importantly, Adams relishes the opportunity to motivate people to embark on a healthier lifestyle. And he feels there’s no better place on Court Street to begin this journey than Odyssey Nutrition.