Arnold Thuku chats with a customer while concocting a shake.
The guy’s telling Arnold he’s trying to lose some weight, start lifting, get back into shape, but he doesn’t have the time.
“You make the time..!” Arnold tells him as he hands him his smoothie.
Arnold always makes the time for healthy living, as well as for each and every one of his customers at Nutrition Junction, the tea and smoothie shop he owns and operates out of Tennis Plaza at 1794 Lakeview Avenue.
“I try to talk to everyone who comes in here,” Arnold says. “I never make anyone a drink and just let them go. I always get conversational.”
It’s that friendliness and outgoing nature that keeps many of his customers coming back – well, that and the idea that drinking Arnold’s Herbalife plant-based products will help them lose weight and gain muscle mass.
Just ask Emily Paquette. She stops at Nutrition Junction about two times a week to power up either on her way to work or home from work at Equipment East in East Dracut.
When asked why she keeps coming back, her answer is simple: “Arnold! And these drinks are really good.”
On one recent day, she was on her way to Define Fitness further up Lakeview Avenue at Beaver Brook Mill, and stopped to pick up two protein drinks, both for herself -- a Peanut Butter Half Baked shake and a Lavender Lemonade tea with green apple. Since she started coming regularly, she has noticed a difference.
“My muscle mass has changed, my protein has increased, and my weight-lifting has increased,” she says.
That’s what it’s all about for Arnold.
“My passion is helping people get healthier,” he says.
Arnold came from Kenya to the U.S. in 2014 at the age of 19. He attended Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, graduating with a degree in nutrition. At the same time, he lost about 40 pounds and started living a healthier lifestyle. He worked as a personal-care assistant, helping to evaluate clients and put them on a nutrition program designed for them.
He learned about Herbalife’s plant-based protein products, and he – along with his wife, Zaida Vicente, and mother, Lilian Kamau – decided to open a tea and shake shop in Quincy called Champion Nutrition in 2019.
In March 2022, Arnold opened Nutrition Junction in Dracut, and that June, Shake-O-Holic in Chelmsford.
Arnold prefers to run the Dracut shop and let others run the Quincy and Chelmsford locations “to create a business opportunity for other people.
“People in Dracut are so nice. It’s more like family. It’s like a tribe here,” he says.
Teas and shakes dominate the menu at Nutrition Junction, though Arnold also sells flavored coffees, waffles, bowls and more. The key component in everything he sells is protein.
“All menu items have 21 vitamins and nutrients, the equivalent of 1,500 calories,” he says. “Smoothies have 190 calories, and the teas have five calories. The same powders that make the smoothies make the waffles.
“It’s fast food for the healthy person,” he adds.
You can also order from Arnold the ingredients needed to make the products at home.
“More than 90 percent of my regulars make their stuff at home, too. That’s what the whole concept is wrapped around. They can buy the products and make their own teas and smoothies. It’s all focused on helping people.”
Arnold is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nutrition Junction will also deliver.
Arnold is always moving, always thinking. He’s constantly coming up with new flavors of teas and shakes. He features monthly specials – for July, he’s planning specials based around the Fourth of July and Shark Week.
And mark your calendars. Also in July, he’s planning to offer flights of teas and shakes – five mini-servings for $10 – on July 15 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
He also offers free occasional programs to promote a healthy lifestyle.
“Anyone can come. You just gotta bring a smile!”
Arnold credits his upbeat personality to that healthy lifestyle – both physically and mentally.
“It’s a lot of personal development. I take some time every day to put energy toward my subconscious mind.
“I’m happy. I’d say I’m living the American Dream. Everything is mindset. I choose to be happy. The whole concept is, yes, it’s a business, but it’s a business that’s focused on helping people.”