‘Summer’ warms business startup

Jennifer Broxterman has a full schedule. Not only is she a master’s student in Brescia University College’s Food and Nutrition program (edging toward her third degree), the 27-year-old also teaches a couple of courses at the university. And, she runs her own business, too.

Thankfully her line of work – a registered dietician and sports nutritionist – has her at the top of her game both physically and mentally.

Passionate about good food and leading a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle, Broxterman’s desire to empower others to reach their health and nutrition goals led to the creation of NutritionRx early last year. The company is a professional nutrition consulting practice offering clients individualized solutions to look, feel and perform their best.

It was her time as a Health Sciences student at Queen’s University when Broxterman had the inkling to become a dietician. She saw Brescia as the best fit.

“I was always into healthy eating and exercise and I knew I wanted to work with people, so I thought ‘What a cool career to get paid to talk about nutrition and physical activity and use your science background to help people,’” she said.

Broxterman fast-tracked her way through the Food and Nutrition undergraduate program in two years and spent the next year in practical training at London Health Sciences Centre, getting experience as a registered dietician.

She then began her master’s at Brescia in 2010, and will defend her thesis this summer, focusing on her work preventing pre-diabetes patients from progressing to Type-2 Diabetes.

“I am so into preventative health care and a preventative approach to nutrition, so I thought it would be cool to do a project that would look at the effects of a prevention program as opposed to a treatment program,” she said. “The money you spend on prevention is four times less than the costs of treatment. Health Canada has even taken this program and has started to share it with other communities.”

And thanks to a provincial program geared at student entrepreneurs, Broxterman received the financial push needed to set up her London-based business last year.

Summer Company is a component of the Ontario government’s Summer Jobs Strategy that attempts to transform students into entrepreneurs with hands-on business coaching, training and mentoring from business people in their local community.

Successful applicants receive up to $1,500 to put toward start-up costs and another $1,500 upon successful completion of the program.

“Things have been going strong with NutritionRx, and I’m proud to say I have remained in full-operation while completing my thesis and I have been able to help hundreds of clients make lasting improvements to their nutritional habits,” Broxterman said. “I’m coming up to my one-year mark of being a student entrepreneur and I couldn’t be happier being paid to do what I love and be my own boss.”

She added the Summer Company grant helped her get NutritionRx up and running by paying for her website, office equipment and other set-up costs that would have delayed the launch of her business.

A fitness enthusiast and former university varsity athlete in rowing and ice hockey, Broxterman incorporates her passion into her counseling. In just under a year, her client list already includes Western’s rowing, cross-country and women’s hockey teams along with a pair of Canadian Olympians.

She has also written nutrition-based articles for magazines including Canadian Running, Canadian Health and Chatelaine.

“I am so blessed,’ she said. “I’m 27 and I have, what I think, is the coolest job in the world.”