BRISTOL — A local health and nutrition shake club has reopened under new ownership. Entrepreneurs Devon Hill and his wife Sarah Sauer have re-named the health foods club Be Well Bristol as part of their initiative to bring consistent healthy habits to the town.
The couple already owned and operated a sister location in Granger for almost four years and two other locations in Three Rivers and Vicksburg, Michigan. After years of establishing their health habits, this past year, they were faced with the opportunity to take on Be Well Bristol’s location full-time while raising their now 10-month-old daughter, Maiyah.
The club features energy teas, protein coffees, and nutritional protein shakes that are tailored to customers’ needs. They offer nut-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free products.
Sauer’s favorite drink at the club is Mom Juice, which she created when she was three months pregnant to help combat nausea and exhaustion. The drink contains protein, collagen for healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as B12 vitamins.
“Enhanced iced protein coffee with 28g of protein is my favorite,” Hill said.
Customer Julianne Billington expressed her enthusiasm for working with Be Well Bristol.
“I like the community of leadership and the women who cheer each other on. If you can get healthy and make money while you are doing it, to me that just makes sense,” Billington said.
The club also offers one-on-one nutritional coaching with customers to help them achieve their personal goals. All employees between every location the couple established can help clients with their coaching needs.
“People can come in here and get a shake, but we can also sit down and do consultation, make a meal plan and show them how to achieve their goals. Then if Devon and I are out of town, whoever is working can step in and help them,” Sauer said. “We have a group called the Fit Fam where clients can be plugged into our group from anywhere.”
JOURNEY TO WELLNESS
Sauer and Hill shared their health and fitness struggles, which brought them to eventually run a business focused on helping others achieve healthy daily habits.
“I had a brain hemorrhage and a stroke when I was 29 and I gained a lot of weight during my recovery,” Sauer said. “I was trying to find a way to get healthier again, so I got involved with a place like this in Elkhart and started their fitness classes. I started getting healthy and people were noticing. A year later I made the leap into opening the nutrition club in Granger.”
Similarly, Hill recalls his experience pursuing health habits that would last a lifetime. When he was in his early 20s, he was diagnosed with diabetes. Weighing more than 400 lbs., he knew he had to lose weight quickly or face a lifetime of insulin injections. At the time, Hill’s cousin Jamie owned the club in Bristol, and Devon promptly became involved.
“I got committed to an overall lifestyle change. I lost even more weight and did not have to take insulin. Then [Sara and I] met. I eventually replaced my income as a full-time CNA with this,” Hill said.
While both Sauer and Hill did not have explicit backgrounds in business ownership, Sauer comes from a family where entrepreneurship was rampant. Before opening her first location in Granger, Sauer worked at a credit union for more than 13 years.
“I have always been somebody who did side hustles,” Sauer said. “Even when I was a kid, I got in trouble in elementary school at lunch for trying to sell temporary tattoos. I think I have always been wired to be an entrepreneur, but I did not know what my lane was for that. Life took me down that path.”
Running a business as a family has provided new challenges and opportunities for Hill and Sauer to connect. The adjustment was difficult at first and required a newfound concentration on communication. However, the couple concurs that they would not trade the flexibility of working together for anything.
Previously Hill had to clear his schedule as a CNA nine weeks in advance, making it challenging to plan important family vacations. Now, finding a balance between work and family is simple with ownership of Be Well Bristol.
During Sauer’s previous credit union job, she was only given limited vacation days and no maternity leave. Once she was out of vacation time, she had nothing left to use in case of energy or for family vacations.
The couple is grateful that their business community of employees throughout sister locations has become like family to them.
“We really operate like a family. For example, everybody has kids so we figured out somebody from Three Rivers will help in Granger and I’m taking kids to school, etc. In a nutshell, we all work together covering shifts, taking kids to school, covering sick days and whatever else is needed,” Sauer said.
The flexibility allows the couple to find what worked for them during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic this past year. Sauer ended up staying home during her pregnancy at the time while Hill began working full-time at the nutritional club. They offered curbside pick-up with minimal contact to help ensure everyone was safe and healthy.
At the heart of what Be Well Bristol hopes to bring to the community are consistent health habits that work for anyone’s needs and schedule. The couple aims to inspire others to live a life where they have the energy to do the things they want to do without being held back.
“People tend to be emotional eaters. People use food as a reward. Food is great and exercise is awesome but food should not just be strictly a reward,” Sauer said. “You should look at food as the way you get your energy and the way you fuel your body. My goal is to teach people to live a lifestyle where they still get to enjoy the things that they want to learn balanced habits and not have to feel shame or embarrassment.”
They also aim to develop more fitness classes in Bristol. However, scheduling fitness classes in Bristol had been a significant adjustment compared to Granger’s usual pace of life. The shame and embarrassment of not keeping up with your kids or achieving the goals you want to in life is just one factor that fuels Be Well Bristol.
As part of their initiative to connect more with the town, the couple has reached out to local factories and small businesses. Across the street from Be Well Bristol is one small business that Be Well has connected with numerous times, Lavender and Patch quilting shop.
“Sara brought over some samples a couple of times. They were all good and they were very friendly. As a matter of fact, they helped clean up next door during the storm that came through,” Pat Barnes of Lander and Patch shared.
Helping the community out during the storm was just one way that Be Well Bristol hopes to meet new people, establish their presence in the community, and help their neighbors out.
“When the storm came through it was like who can we go out and help. One day we still didn’t have power so we came in to do energy bombs in the morning. We came in with an extension cord and one light. We ran the open sign and posted on Facebook if anybody needed ice to come have it for free,” Sauer said.
Since their opening on Aug. 9, the couple has taken great strides to set up community activities and fitness classes that bring the town together in health habits. In their eyes, it is just a small part of what they can do to change the fitness industry to become a more consistent and balanced community.
“I love that I am seeing more and more people doing social media, that is expectation versus reality,” Sauer said. “People in the fitness industry on social media will take a perfect picture and post it and then 30 seconds later take another one showing this is what my body really looks like so don’t get unrealistic expectations. There should be transparency and more of a focus on teaching people to be healthy instead of curing people once they get sick,” Sauer said.