Walking into any GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, or local supplement store can be surprisingly overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. On the surface, it appears to be a buffet of brightly colored packages, vitamins, pre-workouts, energy drinks and protein powders. Not to mention, the flavored versions of peanut butters and bars that say “birthday cake” that leave us all a little confused. It’s enough to have you pulling your hair out because trying to uncover each one’s effects, ingredients, and sometimes empty promises is near impossible due to skewed versions of what looks like made-up words on a nutrition label.
Austin Hulsey felt the same way. In 2013, he decided to change that experience for himself and everyone else. Thus began the journey to create a clean, high-performance line of supplements. At this time, Hulsey was attending Tennessee State University (TSU) and spending much of his time playing in the campus lab. What he would eventually create is the brand we know today as NutriFitt: an all-natural supplement line for today’s busy men and women.
Often we find ingredients we can’t pronounce on the back of our supplement bottles. That’s because a number of products in our market today are combined with fillers, artificial additives, and chemical sweeteners. Not to mention the flattering speech and images designed to persuade you into believing there is one magic product. “I knew I was entering into a heavily saturated industry,” Hulsey confesses, “but I trusted in what I stood for and believed that the health of others did not need to be placed under the profits of a shiny label.”
As the founder and CEO of NutriFitt, Hulsey has also taken it upon himself to provide consumers with effective doses for each ingredient. He discloses, “You’d be surprised how easy it is to throw some caffeine and a proprietary blend of ingredients, sweeten it with Splenda or aspartame, not tell anyone how much they are getting in a container and sell it to the masses.”
At TSU, he was pursuing a degree in Clinical and Sports Nutrition, but knew he wanted to build a brand based on research, testing, and the collaboration with top biochemists, food scientists, pharmacists and dietitians. The goal was to create the most effective and clean products on the market. The task wasn’t easy, but with a foundation of passion, he set out to prove that supplements and science were meant to be a winning combination, not a marketing ploy.
“I’m still extremely grateful for the support and guidance of various instructors at TSU and the access they provided me to lab equipment. It actually led me to creating the company’s first product, PRE-FITT,” Hulsey recalls. It’s not uncommon to hear him mention “the lab” during casual conversation. That’s because his hands-on approach to each and every concoction is driven by his experimental curiosity and need to create a quality product driven by scientific evidence. After studying the market and product labels for some time, he reports, “It was clear to me that there was a need for a company that offered high quality supplements at an affordable price. But without all the unnecessary additives.”
A long-time consumer of supplements himself, Hulsey remembers, “The more I educated myself about nutrition the more intrigued I became. But the more I learned about the business side of the industry, the more I wanted to create something pure.” NutriFitt products are naturally flavored, sweetened and colored for this reason, but also because no one likes to be tricked. Even when making an effort to keep a clean diet and exercise daily, we are surrounded by a lot of information that can steer consumers wrong and twist the facts. We have all fallen victim to marketing and advertising methods as one time or another. But Hulsey says, “I wanted my brand to have a profound impact on the performance of others, without potentially sacrificing their health.”
Headquartered right here in Nashville, NutriFitt officially launched over a year ago. “The growth we’ve seen and the unwavering support from the community in Music City has been amazing,” Hulsey admits. In just a short span of a year, NutriFitt has managed to expand to over 10 retail locations and ship to nearly 30 different states through their online sales. Having moved to Nashville with only 100 dollars to his name, Hulsey is no stranger to taking risks. “It’s been a journey filled with doubt, sacrifice and a desire that wouldn’t let me stop, no matter how many times I failed during the process,” he admits. Stepping into the unknown of entrepreneurship can be scary, especially in this town, but he says there is no reward without a little risk.
The risk he was willing to take stems from witnessing health concerns within his own family. Hulsey says his loved ones have experienced a wide variety of health issues, including heart disease and cancer. However, he claims, “It led me to discover health and nutrition was a passion at an early age.” Seeing the negative effects of bad nutrition and sedentary lifestyles first-hand, drove him to create honest products. It was also a constant reminder to put the health of his clients and community as his number one priority.
The production and successes of NutriFitt has not stopped Hulsey from thinking outside of the box. In fact, it has sparked an interest to not only reinventing already popular products, but also expand his ideas and followers. He is currently working on products that reach much further than the general fitness consumers. He hopes to one day provide his supplements to hospitals and caregivers in the attempt to heal and not just enhance.
Like Hulsey, these healthcare providers would be choosing to approach the usual medical process from an overall wellness perspective, instead of a dependency on pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs. While modern medicine is a popular topic these days, our society continues to study and elevate ways to use food as our cure. Instead of supplying nutrients for just the fit and active, he is looking at those in need of a foundation in good health. He is choosing to step outside his comfort zone and offer a positive alternative approach to fighting sickness. He says. “It’s about how we can continue to impact the lives of others and help them realize that everyone deserves greatness, in whatever form that may be.”
Hulsey has set his personal bar high, because to him, “it’s never been solely about NutriFitt or how far our products can grow and where they are sold.” But whether it be through products, competitive athletes, ambassadors, or a simple conversion about fitness, health, or wellness, it’s the culture Hulsey vowed to build that keeps him humble and in pursuit of a quality. He has created a team that is aligned with his mission.
He sets the business goals at reaching both the community and individual lives, because to him, that will make all the difference in everyone’s journey to health. Hulsey proudly claims, “I want our community to know that we are a brand that stands behind them, that believes in them, and will do whatever it takes to help each and every person achieve their health and fitness goals.”