Just Launched: Cairo-based ElCoach is an Arabic-only weight loss coaching app that offers personalized fitness programs

Just Launched is a new series on MENAbytes that will cover digital products and services that have recently launched (six months).

Cairo-based ElCoach wants to help people in MENA stay fit by offering them personalized fitness programs based on their individual needs. Founded by Assem Emam, Saher Hassan, Muhammad Hazem, and Hossam Bery, last year, ElCoach is available as an Android and iOS app. The four founders have previously worked with some of the leading names in tech scene of Egypt, including A15, Akhbarak.Net, Sarmady, and Speakol.

Assem, the co-founder and CEO of ElCoach, is a fitness enthusiast who fought obesity to lose over 45 kg in almost nine months, back in 2010. He achieved this through self-guided research and by following a healthy diet. The 33-year-old since then has been trying to motivate people to live a healthy lifestyle and that’s what inspired the creation of ElCoach.

The startup has already raised a small investment from three angel investors and is currently speaking with some institutional investors to raise a seed round.

What is ElCoach?

ElCoach is a fitness app for MENA. It creates personalized fitness programs based on individual needs, fueled by a combination of innovative AI and expert local coaches. Our meal plans are created by a certified nutritionist and feature locally available foods specific to our region and culture. It’s all in Arabic.

ElCoach is essentially the trainer I wish I had had when I began my journey with fitness. It’s affordable, intuitive, and encouraging. It creates workout plans that challenge and entertain you – make you sweat and feel good about yourselves after you’ve completed a workout. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, its custom plans are designed to help you meet your personal goals and adapt as you get stronger and healthier along the way. Throughout the experience, you’ll be guided by positive messages of support and encouragement.

Nutrition is an essential component of personal fitness, and ElCoach makes positive choices easy with practical, locally available food recommendations. When you’re making healthy changes for life, you need to start with a sustainable diet plan. ElCoach makes that realistic, attainable and enjoyable.

Why the world needs it?

Personal fitness is challenging enough without having to adapt to someone else’s routine. Here in the Middle East, digital fitness enthusiasts have been forced to settle for English-language programs and non-local meal plans. It’s time for MENA to have a fitness program of its own. ElCoach is a high-quality, expert-built app that recognizes the language, cuisine, and unique needs of individuals in MENA.

Where is it available? 

The application is available for Arabic speakers all over the world, but we are mainly targeting Egypt and KSA during the first two to three years of operation. It’s available wherever your smartphone is—part of our goal was to create a program that’s accessible wherever you are, whatever you have going on in your life.

How far along are you? How many users/trainers do you have? Any paid users yet?

We’ve had over 10,000 downloads since the launch in September last year. Right now we’re working with 4 certified trainers and 2 qualified nutrition experts to build the plans. We already have some users who’ve upgraded to paid plans and they really love it—over 30% of these paid users have chosen long-term subscription plans.

What makes you different from conventional options like trainers, gyms, dietitians,etc.?

Trainers and dietitians absolutely have a place in the fitness sphere. That will never change. But they’re resources that are not accessible to a large number of people. Someone’s schedule may not align with their trainer’s, or the trainer may not be properly qualified, or it might just break the budget. Getting a dietitian adds a similar layer of expense and interruption to busy lives.

Fitness should be for everyone, and ElCoach addresses all these issues at the same time. It’s affordable. It’s right there in your pocket at all times. You can use it at home or in the gym, as your schedule and preferences allow. It’s built with cooperation from certified experts who are qualified to help you make important decisions about your health and lifestyle. And it’s designed to help you build healthy habits that will last for life.

What makes you different from international tech-enabled alternatives i.e. MyFitnessPal, Noom, etc.?

We’re more accessible and authoritative than the dominant competing fitness apps in our space, which are either all in English or don’t offer a combination of expert-created diet and fitness plans in Arabic. It’s also cheaper and more flexible than hiring a personal trainer, and more personalized and effective than generic fitness advice from the internet.

What’s the business model?

We charge a recurring subscription fee. The average paying subscriber spends about $12 a month. We offer free basic programs and entice users into upgrading for increased customization and greater success.

What’s next for ElCoach?

We’ll continue to develop our AI to empower users with hyper-customized fitness & dieting programs. One of our goals is to cater to all segments and their full spectrum of special preferences, and continue to develop ElCoach as a tech tool that will empower users for life and guide them as they progress on their personal fitness journeys.

We’re also working on gamifying our experience to make it as fun and rewarding as possible for our users. Our goal is to continue developing it into a tool you’ll want to keep coming back to.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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