Opinion Editorial

Nov 8, 2021

Why is cohort-based coaching the future of health?

Would you rather workout alone or do it alongside your friends as you dance to Beyonce? Cohort-based-coaching combines live workshops, video modules, communities and coaches to create powerful learning experiences.

Tanvi Parakh

Raise your hand if you've ever been asked to (magically) "lose weight", "eat healthier", "exercise more" or my favorite, "stress less". How many times did you actually succeed and for how long?

Don't worry, you're far from alone. Behaviour change is complex and most would even say, difficult. It not only requires you to be aware of the change that you need to bring, but to also set goals, deal with relapses and maintain motivation through busy, stressful times. Non-trivial, right?

Yet, staying healthy is one of the most important things you can do for a long, healthy life. Heart Disease, PCOS, Obesity, Type II Diabetes and even Cancer benefits from lifestyle changes that can potentially save lives. In fact, 3 out of 4 women in Girlmantra's 2021 Health Survey have been asked by their Health Care Providers to make lifestyle changes for better health.

So, why is this knowledge not enough? Why do we continue to struggle with changing behaviour?

🥊 The 3 problems with Behavioural Health

1. The physician-patient gap

The average visit with a primary care provider in big cities lasts only 10 to 15 minutes due to low doctor-patient ratios—just enough time to discuss the patient’s current treatment plan, factor in  any new symptoms, and prescribe additional drugs. (1) It is a far cry from the time needed to evaluate the patient's lifestyle, identify areas for change and provide the guidance needed for  implementation.

Moreover, most health care providers aren’t trained in behaviour change. Instead, they follow the “expert” model of care, in which they tell patients what to do and expect them to do it. This works well when it is a simple directive such as "take medicine A", but it fails miserably for long-term lifestyle change.

2. On-going, 1:1 support is expensive

Simply put, professionals trained in behaviour change — the nutritionists, therapists, health coaches and fitness instructors of the world — are expensive to consult with on an on-going basis. Even a one hour session can set you back anywhere between $70-$150, depending upon location, expertise and availability. For most individuals, this becomes a steep price to pay as multiple sessions are needed to stay motivated and accountable. Moreover, behaviour change in this context mostly happens alone, without the support or encouragement of a much-needed community.

3. Fitness and Nutrition Apps lack accountability and motivation

There are plenty of habit building fitness, nutrition and mental health apps in the world — some of which do a great job at affecting behaviour change. And while many download these apps when motivation is high, they give up within the first week itself. This can partially be explained due to the fact that the onus in this situation lies upon the individual —  to open the app, feed in any data and perform the daily workout or meditation. As motivation fades, this starts feeling like a chore with no end in sight and no one to hold you accountable.

👀 So, what's the deal with Cohort-Based-Coaching?

Cohort-based-coaching (CBC) is a collaborative-style of learning that combines live workshops, on-demand content, a community of like-minded individuals and coaches to create powerful learning experiences. You participate, engage with, and learn alongside other participants for a pre-determined length of time. Typically seen in education, cohort-based coaching holds super exciting possibilities for behavioural health as it makes unpleasant experiences such as losing weight, fun and less daunting.

Would you rather workout alone or do it alongside your friends as you dance to Beyonce? Examples of cohort-based coaching could include a four week sugar detox program or a six week meditation challenge challenge that is led by an expert and run in small-to-medium sized cohorts.

🎯 Benefits of CBC for changing behaviour

👋🏻 Community: By joining a cohort-based program, you get to meet awesome people from all over the world who respect you and your goals. You get access to the experiences, advise and perspectives which you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This helps you stay motivated, deal with relapses and build a solid support system of your personal health cheerleaders.

💰 Affordability: While 1:1 coaching from health coaches can be expensive, cohort-based coaching allows you to get multiple sessions of face time with your coach at a fraction of the cost. The coaches also benefit as they reach more individuals within the same time frame.

🎯 Structure: Most CBCs are based in principles of behaviour science, helping participants target one particular lifestyle change at a time. Programs start off slow and systematically build towards the end-goal. By combining on-demand content with live workshops, CBCs are much less demanding than 1:1 sessions.

💪🏼 Motivation & Accountability: It is much easier to stay motivated and accountable as you tackle changes alongside other people and have weekly follow-ups in live workshops. Not to mention, research shows that having a clear end date in sight makes it easier for the participants to commit to healthy behaviours.

At Girlmantra, we've spent the last 2 years talking to and understanding the pain points of thousands of doctors, women, health coaches, and fitness experts. We are convinced that cohort-based coaching is the future of behavioural health. If you haven't participated in cohort-based lifestyle program yet, we highly recommend you don't miss out and give it a try immediately. After all, we'd all like to live a happier, healthier life.

💥 Upcoming cohort-based lifestyle programs in the GM Universe:
🥞 The 2 Week Mindful Eating Challenge
🪞 The 3 Week Self-Esteem Challenge
🧘🏻♀️ The 4 Week Period Yoga Challenge