Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be expensive. Between gym memberships, organic foods, fitness gear and supplements, the costs can be overwhelming.
Gym buddies-turned-business partners Yameen Thomas and Quincy Smith spent hours searching for coupons and discount codes to help offset the costs of healthy living.
“The health-and-wellness industry is dominated by companies that keep artificially high pricing to maximize the money they spend on marketing and advertising, which diminishes the value of your dollar,” Thomas, a marketing consultant, shared. “They are also out of touch as to where customers look for their products and services.”
Smith, a software engineer by trade, said they created WholeBod as a platform to streamline health and wellness needs. The business partners are developing an app to accompany the website and will begin beta testing in the fourth quarter.
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The free app will provide users with discounts on food, fitness items and wellness services. Down the line, premium subscribers will earn rewards toward vacation packages and other big-ticket items.
The team has been intentional in building a platform that Smith describes as ‘people-minded.’
“We are working on a multi-tiered rollout so that people can choose what works best,” he said. “Some may be interested in rewards points while others may be interested in a six-week fitness challenge with a famous trainer, which we’ve talked about offering.”
They’re also documenting their journey for a behind-the-scenes YouTube video to premiere later this year.
Thomas and Smith shared more in a Q&A with QCity Metro. Answers were edited for brevity and clarity.
Covid-19 has interrupted or changed the way that many businesses are operating. What have you shifted due to Covid-19? What can we expect in the coming months?
Thomas: We have been fortunate. Some conversations with retailers had to pivot. However, as far as what we are working on with the app, we are in a steady stride. The advantage is the concept, it’s an app. We can have Zoom calls and connect virtually. Once the app launches, people can use it from anywhere.
Many are paying more attention to their physical health while sheltered in place. How does WholeBod address those consumers?
Thomas: You’re right. People are really focusing on their health right now. WholeBod is more about wellness, not just fitness. People think of the gym when you talk about health and wellness. We want people to also think about their mental and emotional stability.
We want to speak to the mind, body and spirit. Think about the current climate and how it affects these areas. Some people have had to mentally grasp the idea of being alone. What are mindful activities they can do to take care of their mental health in addition to taking care of their bodies?
We are offering aspects of wellness with fitness. Users can find [areas like] food guidance and immune support — things that give your body fuel — all in one place.
Smith: Although we are all at home, many people are still frequenting fast-food restaurants and ordering takeout. As an example, McDonald’s is providing free meals during this pandemic. We hear about that everywhere.
There are also restaurants that sell healthy foods that are providing discounts, so we wanted to highlight those and make people aware.
Has health and fitness always been a part of your lives? In what ways?
Thomas: My mom grew up on the west coast, so she’s always eaten organic foods. Growing up, she cooked those foods for us, so eating clean was introduced very early in life.
I played football at Eastern Kentucky University. For football, we eat for performance. If I wanted to get bigger or faster, I’d change my diet for a period of time. After college, I participated in bodybuilding competitions. That was when I really learned more about nutrition and what I was putting into my body. Eventually, I plan to adopt a vegan lifestyle. For now, I do “meatless Mondays.”
Smith: As a track athlete at UNC Charlotte, I always focused on remaining lean. Since college, I’ve stuck to the same habits, eliminating fried foods and sodas. I also drink a lot of water and eat healthy for the most part. I do eat what I want every now and then. I mean, it’s OK to do so in moderation. I’m not vegan, but as I am learning more, I plan to become vegan at some point.
There are lots of health and fitness apps. What makes WholeBod different?
Smith: WholeBod is tapping into new technologies. One example is machine learning, which uses technology to adapt to a user’s habits. Everyone has different goals. If I want more endurance, this technology will give me workouts to build endurance. We also want you to eat well, as your diet impacts how you feel both mentally and physically.
Geo-fencing is another technology that will help set WholeBod apart. Geo-fencing offers users access to what’s around them. It taps into your location and when you are in certain areas, the app sends push notifications based on their preferences. For example, if a user that likes Pilates is near a fitness center that offers Pilates classes, they will receive a notification.
Thomas: We are about building community wellness. Let’s get you with people who you prefer to be around. There will be meetup groups for people who like to work out in groups. You are allowed to create groups and join groups with similar interests. If you are a runner and like 5Ks, you can join local groups of other runners.
Holistically, lots of fitness apps stop at the gym. We want WholeBod to be with you at every step of your fitness journey throughout your day.
You partner with local farms to provide fresh foods for communities in need. What does that look like?
Thomas: We were working with a farm in Marshville, North Carolina, prior to the pandemic. We plan to continue conversations in the coming months. We want to bring farms and fresh markets to communities. I grew up on Beatties Ford, which is a food desert. I believe that for people to take ownership of their communities, they need to own something in those communities.
As we are experiencing the food supply chain possibly at risk due to Covid-19, people need to know how to feed themselves if the supply chain breaks down. Even in Ballantyne and other affluent areas, people need to think about this. We are open to having conversations with members of the community, local farmers and nonprofits.
Searching for ways to make healthy living less expensive for themselves led Smith and Thomas to develop WholeBod. Now, the Charlotte transplants are using their backgrounds in marketing and tech to provide access and affordability to subscribers. Whether you’re looking to locate a vegan restaurant in your area or earn points to purchase new workout gear, WholeBod wants to be top of mind when it comes to all things health and wellness.