Infit Nutrition, a café that offers an array of healthy and energy-boosting options, is the newest addition to Glendale’s Cooper Avenue.
Jonathán Acosta Hernández, the owner and founder of Infit Nutrition, knew he wanted to bring his business to the area after noticing the space — located on 69-44 Cooper Ave. — is nearby fast food chains like McDonald’s and Dunkin’.
“When I was looking I was looking for two major franchises to open up and compete against, so when I saw the Dunkin’ and the McDonald’s, I definitely wanted to take them on,” he said. “Because a lot of people want to look for that healthy choice but the unhealthy choice is the only thing there. So being right here gives them that second decision.”
Acosta speaks from his own personal experience. The 24-year-old used to weigh 245 pounds and ate McDonald’s and Starbucks on a daily basis. But after passing out on a bus one day on his way to work and waking up in the hospital a few weeks later with what the doctor described as multi-organ failure, he decided to change his ways. He was 21 years old at the time.
“The doctor told me that if I didn’t change something, I wouldn’t live to see the age of 22,” Acosta said.
That’s when he began his weight-loss journey, as he puts it. Although doctors suggested liposuction and a gastric bypass surgery, Acosta decided to change his eating and exercise habits instead. He worked out with the help of a coach who introduced him to Herbalife, the international nutritional supplement and marketing company that promotes their own products, like protein shakes, teas and aloes, with the help of independent contractors.
Now, Acosta is 100 pounds lighter. He didn’t know he wanted to open up his own business, but decided to do it with the help of his team of four other independent contractors. Infit Nutrition opened its doors for the first time on Jan. 5 in an effort to serve health-conscious treats to Glendale, Maspeth and Ridgewood.
Their menu has a variety of smoothies, teas, coffee, energizer drinks, bowls as well as “gym rats” juice and snacks, with prices that range from $6 to $12. They also offer combos, such as their seasonal special “Cupid Shuffle,” which is made up of a large “Cupid’s Arrow” smoothie and “Lover’s Quarrel Loaded Tea” for $11 or $12 with a boost.
Guests will also notice a detailed description of the amount of calories, protein, carbs and sugar for each option. For instance, their smoothies are less than 250 calories, have 24 grams of protein and contain 21 essential vitamins and minerals.
Acosta said it’s important for him and his team to have conversations with people about the nutritional facts of their options, so they know what they’re consuming and why it’s different from a cheaper meal with a higher calorie count.
“A lot of people compare prices with what they can get, like here versus McDonald’s,” he said. “So at McDonalds you can get like a two-for-$5 Big Mac, but each Big Mac … is lacking in protein. It’s lacking in vitamins, gives you no minerals, and and your system takes a lot of time to break it down.”
Acosta said they use Herbalife protein shakes and other supplements as a base for all their products because of the taste and price.
“They taste great, and 12 doctors are behind the science of the protein, so we wanted to use products that are good for the community,” he said. “Their products are also soy based, not milk, like others.”
Herbalife has been around since the 1980s, and has undergone a string of investigations both in the news and federally. In 2016, they settled with the Federal Trade Commission to change its business practices after the government agency found that it deceived buyers and sellers of its products, according to The New York Times.
But Acosta said that although they use Herbalife products, they aren’t a franchise at all — just an independent business owner.
“The settlement that Herbalife had with the government that took place in 2016 has no connection with Infit Nutrition or Insane Fitness LLC,” he said. “As a smoothie bar owner, I have the right to utilize any products from any company as long as I do not make any false claims or ‘high hope’ commentaries about the product that is not on the label or the parent company has said themselves.”
Acosta, who is also a medical student with degrees in science and neuroendocrinology from Hunter College and BMCC, and is pursuing his masters at NYU, said he did his own research and believes in the products.
He also believes in promoting the idea that everyone can be their own boss. Him and his team built and renovated the space themselves, from making the bar from scratch to hanging up the “Welcome to Infit Nutrition” letters on the wall.
“I used to work for Starbucks as a manager for five years and they never appreciated me,” he said. “Knowing how hard it was and what I had to sacrifice to get up into those high ranks but still not be appreciated, was something that I didn’t want to do. So when we opened this, we opened this as a team, understanding that we all had equal say on what happens between these doors.”
Infit Nutrition has a mission to “lead, guide, coach and support each individual on their road a healthy active lifestyle.” The word “Infit” stands for “insane fitness,” which is what Acosta said people would call his new lifestyle when he started taking care of himself.
Acosta believes “health and fitness has to do with mindset,” most of all.
“I always say, if you don’t like the way you look in the mirror, change it. Don’t let somebody else say, ‘You need to change because you’re this size, and you need to be this size,’” he said. “If you don’t love yourself, that’s when you need to change. But if you’re comfortable with yourself and who you are, there’s no need to change it.”
Infit Nutrition is open on Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.infitnutri.org.