There’s no shame in admitting that many of us need a little (or a lot of) motivation from someone to get us up off the couch and active. In fact, having professional guidance is useful in the context of pretty much any health goal, even if it involves some ‘qualified dietician’ pushing against me devouring chips for dinner for the ninth day in the row.
Getting the everyday Australian motivated to work towards their health goals was a central thought Sydney-sider David Parrelli had when he imagined HealthCoach, a fitness app that connects users to virtual health coaches.
“A lot of people want to achieve fitness or health-based goals but don’t really know how to get there,” he said.
“They’ll then tend to use online websites or guides to try and do it on their own, but end ou giving up after a few weeks. We feel that if you’re held accountable and have someone to push you, you’re much more likely to move towards your goals.”
Through the app, users are able to be matched with health professionals such as dieticians, personal trainers and nutritionists based on their selected health goals. Once connected, and for a fee, the user is able to “subscribe” to the health professional after a seven day trial period, where they’re able to seek professional advice over instant-messaging.
“[The trial period] will reduce the barrier to entry and ensure that each coach is the right fit for the client. We feel it’s a better way to convert customers from a free to paid system,” Parrelli explained.
Elaborating on the client-to-coach relationship, Parrelli described it as an “online consultation”, and one that is continued throughout the monthly subscription period while the client works towards their health goals.
Planned for release into public beta in the near future, Parrelli said the app will eventually see each coach providing their clients with a personalised health brief which pieces out how the client will achieve their goals, as well as ongoing advice and motivation based on the client’s progress.
Parrelli explained that HealthCoach actually emerged out of another project the entrepreneur was working on in the fitness space, which looked to become the dating or connection app for fitness.
“It was basically an app that connects fitness enthusiasts to a workout buddy, but I spoke to someone in the health profession space and he said to me, I wish there was a product out there to help me find clients on the side of my normal work and get paid for what I do,” said Parrelli.
“I figured there were other solutions out there that do the same thing in different industries, so I did some market research to coaches to see if it was something they’d actually want to use.”
Finding a trend of health professionals and consumers interested in an online consultation solution, Parrelli pivoted his work on the connection app towards forming HealthCoach. Although some of the frameworks were in place for the new app, pivoting wouldn’t be simple, as Parrelli discussed how he continues to balance development on the app with his “regular” freelance work.
“Because I’m bootstrapping the project, [income] is something I have to be mindful of. It does get tough a lot of the time, but it really just comes down to time-management and finding a balance,” he said.
As to HealthCoach’s target clientele, Parrelli explained that the app will branch out to users with differing sizes and types of health goals, whether that be trimming off a few kilos or undertaking a revolutionary diet change.
Meanwhile, in terms of coaches, the founder explained that the startup is looking to target health professionals searching for a “side-gig” to match their day-to-day consultation practices.
“Our scope will initially focus on dieticians, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and nutritionists, then we’ll look to onboard other practitioners. We’ll be doing a full background check on each new health coach who applies and also monitor coaches to make sure they’re performing their tasks and helping the client,” said Parrelli.
Applications can be submitted through the HealthCoach website, with the founder saying the startup has already onboarded a number of practitioners to work with clients during the initial MVP. Based on their subscription numbers, coaches will be paid fortnightly through the app.
While the startup is currently focused on online consultations, Parrelli said he’s also looking towards adding an offline service, where users would be able to organise physical meetups with coaches through the platform.
With a focus on personal fitness trainers, another startup working with the space of connecting users to health practitioners for face-to-face sessions is Pummel. Users on the app are able to select a fitness area they want to train, before being presented with a health coach in their local area.
Parrelli said he imagines HealthCoach also using geolocation features to connect clients to coaches for offline services, although for the time being the business will focus on developing its online based features.
“We want a user to be able to track their exercise on the app, such as the kilometres and time they ran, and have that data passed onto the coach. It’s about facilitating that relationship and having that data sent through the app first,” said Parrelli.
“I’d love the end product to be both an offline and online experience, so you’re always connected with your coach.”
Other features in the pipeline including the ability for clients to organise private calls with their coach, with the startup to begin looking towards funding opportunities in order to fuel development.
Image: David Parrelli. Source: Supplied.