All the boys to the yard

by Brian Clarey

All the boys to the yard

The strip of State Street off Elm in Greensboro is slowly becoming the city’s alternative healing district, with the State Street Center for Renewal swallowing most of State Street Station and satellite businesses opening up to accommodate the non-traditional tastes of those who frequent the sidewalks. You’d think there would be a good juice bar hereabouts — at least I did — and if memory serves, there was one over there in that side-mounted strip mall by Jersey Mike’s which, I believe, offered fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and oxygen. If I remember correctly, it closed earlier this decade after some unpleasantness. But these days, a few doors down from that storefront, a family-owned business trucks in nutritious meal replacements, in keeping with the salubrious flavor of the neighborhood. “We do wellness and weight loss coaching,” says Kelli Davis, who owns the place with her husband Brad. “We have vitamins and supplements. And we do a weight loss class, kind of like ‘The Biggest Loser.’” The classes run eight weeks, and the results are chalked up on the walls of the store. The current frontrunner is a man named Shane N., who dropped 41 pounds over eight weeks, reducing his body fat by more than 13 percent. He’s already four weeks through another course, Davis says, in which he promises to bring his “A game.” The magic bullet here is in the shakes, more than 30 flavors of meal-replacement goodness, each based on the Herbalife brand of nutrients. This is no mere smoothie place; in fact, most of the flavors on the menu seem more like what you’d find at a burger joint: German chocolate cake, Butterfinger, Orange Dreamsicle, Key Lime Pie.

I used to think a healthy shake meant something else. It’s not just about weight loss, Davis says, but about nutrition and liefstyle. “[The shakes] are probably the healthiest thing you’ll put in your body the whole day.” It’s midafternoon and I haven’t yet eaten. So what the hell? Because I’m a little uncomfortable with the extensive chocolate-based portion of the menu, I gravitate towards the fruit blends. Maybe a wild berry with orange juice? Davis steers me towards something a bit more milkshake-y, the wild berry strawberry based on Herbalife’s Vanilla Shake Mix, which contains a slew of vitamins and minerals. It turns out to be… a milkshake, and one that could bring at least a few of the boys to the yard, if not all of them. It’s thick and creamy, with just the tiniest medicinal suggestion of the nutrienbts brewing within. As I sip it, her brother in-law John James brings me a shot of mango-flavored aloe vera juice. “Good for digestion,” he says. James is one of the store’s success stories: He lost 30 pounds using milkshakes and exercise — a vital part of any weight loss regimen, Davis reminds. James pulls his Before and After pictures down from the wall, and indeed he has lost much of his beef. Here in the store his clothes hang on a lean frame, his belt pulled to the last notch. He mixes a batch of jamocha almond fudge shots, passes them around for a toast. It is Melody Curtis’ first day as an employee at Healthy Shake, and to that we drink.

The Healthy Shake; 2104 Georgia Street, Greensboro; 336.510.7501

Kelli Davis, proprietor of Healthy Shake in Greensboro. Inset:Davis’ brother-in-law John James one of the shop’s early successstories. (photos by Brian Clarey)