Gumball machine sparks idea for fitness buffs’ Ryze Nutrition business

Business ideas can come from almost anywhere, and that was the case for Thomas McKay…

Business ideas can come from almost anywhere, and that was the case for Thomas McKay when he forgot his preworkout supplement.

“I was at a store and was going to go to the gym afterwards, but realized I had left my supplements at home,” McKay said. “I walked past a gumball machine and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to dispense supplements in a gumball?’”

Excited about the idea, McKay called Jacob Langer, a good friend whom he had worked out with before moving to La Crosse.  Langer, a mixed martial arts competitor and boxer from Marinette, is a believer in the use of supplements and immediately got on board with the idea.

The research began.

McKay and Langer talked to gym owners and fitness buffs. They crowdsourced for ideas to test the viability of the concept. They asked gym owners if they would allow a machine; they asked customers if they would be interested in purchasing a gumball before working out. 

At the same time, they researched the density of supplements to see what it would take to get the product inside of a gumball and how effective it would be. Then they took the next step.

Ryze Nutrition offers a preworkout supplement in gumball form.

“We purchased 800 gumballs to start refining the process,” McKay said. “We used 1-inch gumballs and mixed the supplement with water to inject it into the gumball.”

Since large gumballs are hollow inside, they had success in coming up with a product that could be used prior to a workout to increase nitroxide in a person’s body to improve blood flow and reduce fatigue. 

“You want instant energy, and we can do that,” McKay said.

The pair has bigger plans that include after-workout gumballs, and gumballs that will utilize other substances such as amino acids — supplements that are sports-specific. They have named the business Ryze Nutrition.