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Brenda Rouse prepares one of her Herbalife meal replacement shakes at her Whirled Up business which is located in the former Northern Grounds coffee shop spot in downtown Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

New business takes over familiar locale

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WILLMAR -- The latest addition to the downtown Willmar business community is Whirled Up, a nutrition club offering Herbalife shakes and other products.

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Whirled Up is located in the former Northern Grounds coffee shop at 333 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

Proprietor Brenda Rouse opened a month ago. She calls her meal replacement shakes "fast food in a cup that tastes like dessert."

People join the club one day at a time by paying a fee for which they receive a shake, hot or iced tea and a shot of aloe. "We don't sell drinks, we sell the membership," she said.

For the membership fee, patrons may also sign up for a free personal wellness evaluation with Rouse or "pick our brains for whatever you want."

"You can get as much service as you want," she said.

Rouse is even willing to share the shake recipes she's developed. She makes 47 different flavors from fruit smoothies to mixtures that taste like candy bars. "It's fun to come up with these concoctions."

In the evaluation, she said, she may recommend products, but "I'm not telling you I'm going to fix your problem."

Rouse said the drinks can be useful for people who want to lose, gain or maintain their weight. "I don't tout a lot of weight loss," she said. "I talk about a balance of nutrition."

The cost of the membership is roughly the cost of a meal at a fast food restaurant. Rouse sees her shakes as an alternative.

"We're not bashing them," Rouse said of the restaurants, "because I'm still a customer of theirs."

Rouse said she wants her club to be "a social gathering place for people who are like-minded, people who want to be well and happy."

Members are free to stay and relax over their tea and shakes as long as they want, she said. She welcomes groups that want to gather there and has a conference room available.

As she becomes more established, she said, she also hopes to do some cross-promotions with other businesses downtown. A walking club is another possibility.

The club also sponsors weigh loss challenges, which are open to everyone. There is a fee to join.

Whirled Up will be participating in community service projects fundraisers, too, she said. The shop will be open during Becker Market during the summer.

Rouse lives in Olivia with her husband and two children, "but my heartstrings are right here," she said.

She is a Willmar High School graduate and also attended Willmar Community College, now Ridgewater.

"I'm excited to be downtown," she said. "I think the downtown is beautiful, and I love the little community that's here. ... I like that this gives me a platform to give back."

Rouse said she is still determining her hours of operation, depending on the flow of the business day. Her current hours are listed at the Whirled Up page on Facebook. She is always open for lunchtime and into mid afternoon, about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., she said, but other hours may vary for a while.

Rouse was able to use some of the infrastructure left over from Northern Grounds, including the counter, blackboards and booths. She added some fresh paint and curtains along with her equipment, and she is considering some other updates as the business develops.

The shop's website is www.whirledup.com, where Rouse also has a blog.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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