Farmingdale Fitness Business Pays It Forward In The Face Of COVID-19

NutriWolf’s Darren Anselmo at the grand reopening of the Deer Park location
(Photo courtesy of Darren Anselmo)

Not unlike other retail outlets, NutriWolf has been taking it on the chin because of COVID-19 and the closures that have come about by way of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY On Pause Executive Order. Owned by partners Darren Anselmo and Ron Fairclough, this business, with locations in Farmingdale and Deer Park, stocks vitamins and supplements, in addition to selling prepared meals and helping customers achieve their fitness goals. While Anselmo is fighting to keep Nutriwolf afloat, he has been taking the coronavirus situation seriously dating back to the middle of March.

“We were one of the first people in our area to use contactless transactions,” Anselmo said. “Ronnie’s wife works in the ER and she was one of the first people to tell me how [serious] it was before everyone knew how bad it really was. About March 16, I initiated contactless transactions. We stopped taking cash and only take credit cards—we only take customers’ credit card numbers. We set up a table near the door, so only one person can stand in the doorway at a time. Early on, people were asking if all this was necessary and if we were taking things a little too far. But I preemptively took those precautions for the safety of my staff and customers as well as my own. It was a little rough.”

In navigating this new normal, Anselmo is able to stay open as an essential business, given that he uses an off-site commissary kitchen to create freshly prepared meals, which can be picked up on-site and ordered via Door Dash and Uber Eats. The Farmingdale native is also paying it forward by giving many of these meals to local frontline workers and law enforcement.

“We make meals and I’ve been donating them every week to local hospitals and police departments to take care of the people on the frontline and do whatever it is I can do,” he said. “All they get is pizza, and I’m not going to knock it because my partner owns a pizzeria—but they’re getting a lot of foods that are not going to help them lose weight. At this point, we want to do what we can helping people on the front lines eat a healthy meal. There is only so much crap you can eat. We’re trying to go that route and give them some healthy options.”

While his current COVID-19 situation is less than optimal, it’s just the latest obstacle Anselmo has cleared. A personal trainer for a decade who started participating in bodybuilding competitions in recent years, Anselmo’s first stab at a business was launched back in 2010 out of the Farmingdale gym Infinity Fitness. Armed with a business management degree from Farmingdale College and his $30,000 life savings, Anselmo was not only victimized by $9,000 worth of Internet fraud in his first year, but wound up getting briefly sidelined after the gym suddenly closed down. The fledgling entrepreneur operated out of a storage facility until meeting his current partner at a New Year’s Eve party, where the latter proposed they relaunch it as a brick-and-mortar business. While getting everything going was enough of a challenge, Anselmo and Fairclough had to rebrand after getting legally threatened by Monster Energy Drink.

“We used to be called Monster Nutrition—that was the original name,” Anselmo said. “Last year, we got a cease-and-desist legal packet from Monster Energy Drink’s lawyers claiming that we infringed on their trademark rights. They actually had the [nerve] to ask me to pay for their lawyer fees for sending the cease-and-desist. But I turned around and asked them to become a partner in the business and get these stores to open up across Long Island. They basically told me to go screw myself.”

Guided by a firm belief that positivity is far more contagious than negativity, Anselmo is continuing to spread good vibes while keeping his dream alive.

“I’m just trying to keep my head above water with this business and do right by my employees at the end of the day,” he said. “We’re not all in the same boat, but we’re dealing with the same problem.”

Visit www.nutriwolfstores.com or call 516-752-6819 to find out more about NutriWolf.

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Dave Gil de Rubio
In addition to being editor of Massapequa Observer and Hicksville News, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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