What it’s like to go through a training session with CoachUp

CoachUp, the 2012 startup designed to connect young athletes with personal trainers and coaches through their app, recently offered me the opportunity to talk to CEO John Kelley about the future of the company and even try out the platform myself.

Basketball is my favorite sport, and I chose to practice it with the app, but that’s not all CoachUp has to offer. While the majority of the company’s business comes from the parents of youth athletes in middle school and early high school practicing team sports like baseball, basketball and football, CoachUp provides coaches and trainers in sports ranging from the major team sports to yoga, martial arts and even ultimate frisbee.

Team sports are certainly their bread and butter, but Kelley sees beyond just that. “The opportunity moving forward is to really expand into the much broader, 30 billion dollar sports and fitness market,” he said.

Expanding and offering the CoachUp service to different markets across the U.S. has been one of their biggest focuses since Kelley joined the team at the start of 2015. “I think this is a bit of a cultural shift in the company since I’ve come aboard,” he said. “Early on the brand itself—the look and the feel—was really geared towards a male demographic—macho, hard-core athlete. That’s not surprising because . . . if you look at the work force that we have here, it’s a lot of 20-year-old athletes.”

Aiming to refocus his young team, Kelley recalibrated, “I said to them ‘Look, you guys are not actually our clients today. Our client is your moms.’” With this in mind, he adjusted the priorities of the CoachUp marketing strategy, veering away from the macho-man persona of the past and new demographics and markets.

In its first three years after launching, CoachUp was able to connect more than 13,000 trainers with more than 100,000 young athletes nationwide. In making these connections, CoachUp vets each coach when they register and continuously monitors their performance and reviews from athletes.

Kelley and the CoachUp team have detected a growing market within their client base. More and more adults—like me—have been using the app to schedule private lessons geared towards personal fitness.

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