When Chase Parker walked into the Healthy Living Expo on Saturday afternoon, one thing stood out to him.
"There seemed to be a lot of unhealthy people at this thing," Parker, a sophomore in biochemistry and molecular biology, said. "I expected there would be a lot of people in their fitness gear and looking for new ways to improve ... but most people there, they looked like they hadn't really started it."
As The Daily Beacon reported last week, it seems New Year's resolutions have many people searching for more fitness opportunities. The Healthy Living Expo provided such an opportunity, with more than fifty vendors packed into the Knoxville Convention Center from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon.
A wide variety of booths offered plenty of diversity for the fitness newbie. From workout gyms blasting music and featuring Zumba dancers, to healthy barbeque sauce alternatives with plenty of samples, the expo enticed Parker, who plans on boxing in the SAE Boxing Tournament in six weeks. He, like many in attendance, has a fitness-centered New Year's resolution.
"The New Year's resolutions had me inclined to get healthier. And maybe look good for spring break as well," he laughed.
Mattie Turner, a vendor for Wonder Wrap mineral body wraps, thought her range of products was perfect for college students like Parker.
"We do mineral body wraps, ucts in our shop. One that we especially love is the B-Skinny Coffee, it's fat-burning thermogenic coffee," she said. "The coffee is infrared roasted to preserve green coffee bean extracts, and it is engineered to keep insulin levels low. For college students, the coffee might be the secret to evading the 'freshman 15.'"
A few booths down from Turner and her body wraps, Roger Lenhardt distributed a taste of Elderberry Life. The Midwestern farmer took over his family's animal feed farm six years ago.
"We were growing soy beans, wheat and corn ... but I told dad, I said, 'Well I'll do this, but I really don't wanna grow animal feed. If I'm gonna do it we are gonna grow people food, and we're gonna grow plant spirit medicine," he said.
He settled on elderberries, a berry native to North America that has more antioxidants than any other fruit and five times the vitamin C of oranges.
"It's a company dedicated to spreading the great news about elderberries and all of its wonderful virtues," Lenhardt said. "It's antioxidant dense, nutrient dense, and everything in elderberries is water soluble."
As his product began to fly off the shelves of a grocery store chain, Lenhardt realized he may have a problem.
Lenhardt offered his elderberry jam for five dollars at the expo, a two dollar discount. He hopes that expos like this weekend's can continue to help smaller companies get out into the mainstream.
"We try to bring wealth to the farmer and health to the community," he said. "And so, if we can get some schools in the Knoxville area to carry my product, that's how we would be helping the community."
"Once we were in 25 of their locations we could tell we couldn't grow enough elderberries. We only have 37 acres planted at elderberry, so we began teaching other farmers on the process to grow elderberries commercially using our system. So we now have 30 farmers, in 13 different states, with over 200 total acres," he said.
Parker enjoyed the community focus of the expo.
"There was one company that made their own candles and hand soap out of soy and hemp oils ... they had a bunch of interesting scents and it was cool that it was a Knoxville-based company," he said, adding that the presence of large national brands seemed out of place.
"There were a couple of companies in there that I didn't really see having a point in better fitness," Parker said. "Why would Verizon Wireless be at a fitness expo?"