Collegiate Nutrition muscles its way into workout culture

By Jesse Campbell (

Article Published: Dec. 24, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 24, 2013
Collegiate Nutrition muscles its way into workout culture

A.J. Harmon and Scott Gillespie have launched Collegiate Nutrition LLC, which markets their new protein shake, Mountaineer Muscle.

Photo submitted

Appalachian State alum A.J. Harmon has always dreamed of starting his own business.

With the end of his graduate studies in sight — he most recently finished his MBA with a concentration in sustainable business — Harmon felt the time was right to embrace the challenges of getting a startup off the ground.

When it came to a product line or services, Harmon said the choice was simple: nutrition.
An advocate of a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, Harmon began collaborating with friend and business partner Scott Gillespie.

By working with the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship at Appalachian State University, the budding executives began mapping potential ventures.

“We were constantly talking about different business ideas,” Harmon said. “First, it was a fitness DVD series, and then it was a mobile personal training business. Finally, I had the idea to open up a nutritional supplement shop to place in BootstrAPPs, which is a store that’s run by the Association of Student Entrepreneurs, located in the ASU Bookstore.”

Since BootstrAPPs only carries products made by students, Harmon said they could not act as third-party retailers.

“So, Scott and I looked into creating/marketing our own nutritional supplement, and the rest is history,” Harmon said.

From these efforts and countless hours of brainstorming, the idea of a whey protein shake, Mountaineer Muscle, was born.

“Mountaineer Muscle can be used as a great recovery drink after a long day on the trails, a healthy gym session or a healthy addition to a balanced breakfast,” Harmon said. “Some of my customers have made it a morning ritual to mix a scoop of our vanilla flavor with their oatmeal in the morning.”

Going forward, the proprietors, known formally as Collegiate Nutrition LLC, would like to have a stronger presence on campus, Harmon said. “We want Mountaineer Muscle to be the drink of choice for students, faculty and members of the community who live an active, healthy lifestyle,” he said.

By allowing students to purchase the drink with their own campus meal card, commonly known as AppCard, Collegiate Nation is working to ensure the name, Mountaineer Muscle, becomes commonplace in workout circles campus wide.

Aside from learning about the pitfalls and challenges of starting a business, Harmon said the experience also afforded him the opportunity of personal growth.

“I’d say more than anything, I’ve learned how to manage and prioritize my time,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to receive support from friends and hear fellow students talk about how much they like our product. I’ve been blessed to come from a family of entrepreneurs who always have words of encouragement and wisdom. My brother, Corey, is our graphic designer and has made everything from our company and brand logos to our tank tops.”

Mountaineer Muscle can be found in BootstrAPPs in the ASU Bookstore, Anytime Fitness, The Gym 24/7 and Veggies, Fruits and More. Orders can also be completed online by email at (

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