In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that more than two billion adults are overweight and 650 million are obese across the globe. These figures are only increasing by the day. Increased consumption of high calorie foods with high levels of sugar and saturated fats, combined with reduced physical activity can be attributed to the problem.
In order to solve these issues, Asheesh Grewal launched MyHealthBuddy in 2017 to help people connect with lifestyle coaches and stay fit.
The Gurugram-based startup provides personalised lifestyle coaching to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle, reduce weight, a good diet, and stay away from lifestyle diseases.
A graduate of Netaji Subhas University of Technology, Asheesh worked for more than 12 years in the corporate sector in companies such as Infosys, HCL, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Speaking with YourStory, Asheesh says that while he played cricket in his school days, he got into a sedentary lifestyle while working in the corporate sector, which took a heavy toll on his health.
“I was not feeling comfortable in my early 30s - overweight and unfit. I realised that people around me were also victims of the same problem. They wanted to be healthy but did not have enough time and knowledge to incorporate a healthy routine into their lifestyle,” he adds.
Realising the issues, Asheesh began working on his health with the support of a few friends who played sports. In 2016, he quit his corporate job and launched MHB in 2017.
[Image Credit: MyHealthBuddy]
Staying fit with ‘buddies’
Asheesh explains the idea of “buddy” came to him after working at RBS where new employees where assigned to a buddy who guided through the essentials.
“A buddy is someone whom you are accountable to, and can reach out for any question to seek out the right and necessary answers, at any time. They help the users develop healthy habits by holding them accountable, rather than just giving them training,” he says.
The startup works on a five-point approach model where the “buddies” or the lifestyle coaches help the users with their diet plan, exercise plan, sleep quality, stress management, and habit formation.
“People give up on their fitness regime in the initial period only and that’s why MHB focuses on developing healthy habits to incorporate health consciousness in people. Other than diet and exercise, coaches also work on behavioral changes,” Asheesh says.
The MHB programmes are remote, i.e., the buddies and users connect online and do not meet face-to-face. Apart from this, the startup uses a third-party app, Trainerize, to track the users’ progress.
The startup also majorly focuses on women’s health to help them deal with postpartum weight and depression, PCODs, and Hypothyroidism, among others. “Most of our clients are in the age group of 28-35 years, and 95 percent of them are women. Also, 70 percent of the women clients are new mothers who want to lose their postpartum weight, which is our USP,” he adds.
Illustration: YS Design
COVID-19 and health
Last year, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) alerted people about “Covibesity”, where people across the world have been gaining weight rapidly due to behavioural, psychosocial, and environmental changes produced by the COVID-19 situation.
With many companies opting for a complete work-from-home or hybrid work model, people have reduced their commute, resulting in spending more time indoors. While this motivated a few to exercise and become fit, many others have gained weight.
According to a 2020 report by Indian Journal of Community Medicine, India is currently facing the problem of the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition. The report revealed that over 135 million people in the country are suffering from obesity.
Business and more
Asheesh has invested around Rs 7 lakh in the startup. It has 26 certified lifestyle coaches working with around 1,200 users.
“We have an internship programme to recruit the finest health coaches as per our requirements. The structure of the internship also requires a payment from the individuals to come on-board where we train them as per our parameters apart from their certifications. The internship programme takes place every two to three months,” he adds.
Apart from the internship revenue point, the startup also charges its users around Rs 7,500-Rs 10,000 for its services. MHB also has 10 percent of its clients from other countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, the US, and Australia who are charged between Rs 10,000 and 15,000.
The founder also explains the MHB directly competes with other players such as HealthifyMe and Fittr. However, he believes that their USP lies in one-to-one personalised coaching sessions and adds that the coaches to clients ratio is low.
Speaking about future plans, Asheesh says that while the startup is not actively looking for funding, it will consider if opportunities align. He adds that MHB is developing its own app and is also looking forward to collaborating with women-specialty hospitals, clinics, and other such platforms to further strengthen women’s health-focused programmes.
The company is also looking to further expand its global presence and also work with corporates to ensure a healthy lifestyle for employees.