Written by Barb Consiglio.
There’s an old adage that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. And nowhere is this more apparent than on the internet. Every fitness-related website offers a different diet, exercise or supplement to solve your problems. And while some of the advice is sound, a lot of it can be misleading. To help separate the good advice from the bad, Steven Downey created UTusk in Akron, Ohio. The company’s app delivers credible advice and coaching from real health experts accessible on your smartphone anytime, anywhere.
“Users easily find content on whatever type of fitness or nutrition information they’re looking for and connect with the coaches behind it, while coaches gain new clients looking for their knowledge and expertise” said Downey. “It’s real, healthy solutions from real people.”
UTusk is easily searchable by exercise interest, and gives users the option to subscribe to individual coaches whose content is most relevant to them. If someone likes yoga and running, for example, they can search UTusk for coaches who specialize in those activities. After previewing a coach’s content, users can sign up to have full access for a monthly “fit fee” that is set by each coach. Once subscribed, users can see all of the coach’s content through a social media-like feed and can message them directly for advice. The app even includes a profile page where users can track their progress toward individual health goals.
Before starting UTusk, Downey served in the military from 2005 to 2011. He battled post-traumatic stress disorder, often turning to food to cope with his depression. He weighed more than 260 pounds and realized he needed to change his lifestyle. Downey turned to the internet for advice and found everything from the cayenne pepper diet to websites pressuring him to join their gym. The experience inspired him to create a more honest, authentic way to find effective fitness and nutrition plans.
“Knowing how healthy habits turned my life around, it became my personal mission to make it easier for others to do the same,” said Downey.
UTusk received $35,000 in funding from The Bit Factory, a northeast Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier, which helped the company hire an app development and design team. The Bit Factory also worked with the company to build a social media following, and UTusk created partnerships that gave the company access to 1.5 million Facebook and Instagram followers before the app was even launched.
Downey says UTusk has gotten a great response from fitness and nutrition professionals who are on-board to be UTusk coaches, creating a diverse group of coaches for users to choose from.
“UTusk is the perfect platform for coaches working to build a following,” said Downey. “They have access to a built-in client base and can focus on creating new, innovative content for their subscribers.”
The UTusk app is available to all iOS users, and an Android app will be released this fall. Downey says as a new entrepreneur, the resources available in northeast Ohio helped him find direction and get UTusk off the ground.
“I didn’t have any experience on the business side, but I was able to take this idea and get the help I needed from organizations like the Bit Factory,” said Downey. “Ohio gives startups the tools to be successful, and I am amazed at the strides that UTusk has been able to make over the past year with both the technology and our following.”