U.S. therapy startup Coa raises $3m to launch world's first gym for mental health

U.S. therapy startup Coa raises $3m to launch world's first gym for mental health

Published: 15-10-2020 14:30:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 992 | Tags:

Coa, an online emotional fitness studio for live classes and one-on-one therapy, announced a $3 million seed round led by Crosslink Ventures with RedSea Ventures and Alpaca VC participating alongside Neil Parikh, Founder of Casper, several angel investors, and professional basketball player and mental health advocate Kevin Love. Coa was co-founded by Alexa Meyer and Dr. Emily Anhalt.

Kevin Love, NBA All-Star and Coa investor said: "On average, people wait 11 years between the onset of mental health symptoms and seeking treatment. Coa is rethinking how we approach mental health to make it easier for people to take that first step and get ongoing support. In turn, this will change the way people approach emotional fitness and hopefully seek support earlier."

Coa's online Emotional Fitness Studio will feature live, therapist-led classes designed to create an "emotional fitness workout" to bolster mental health. The digital studio's interactive group classes will start at $25 and foster community while building emotional wellbeing. Each class follows a proprietary  "learn, exercise, breakout, discuss" framework built on Dr. Anhalt's research into the 7 Traits of Emotional Fitness. Just like a gym, Coa will also offer one-on-one support through therapist matchmaking and private sessions with licensed therapists.

Alexa Meyer, Coa co-founder and CEO said: "We know the number of people experiencing mental health challenges is growing exponentially in 2020, yet mental health services remain unapproachable, unaffordable, and hard to fit into the weekly routine. We're beyond excited to reimagine mental health as something you can work on just like physical fitness. By offering classes that people do together, we're creating a space for connection, support, and accountability."

Before the launch of the online studio, Coa hosted mental health pop-up gyms around the country and offered its emotional fitness curriculum privately to employees at Asana, Spotify, Silicon Valley Bank, and other leading companies. Employer demand for Coa's emotionally fit leadership and workplace curriculum has grown 900% since March 2020 and the beginning of the pandemic. To date, more than 3,500 people have joined Coa's waitlist for the studio launch.

Emily Anhalt, Coa co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer said: "Mental health is not one-size-fits-all. That's why we've created a curriculum that enables people to go deep, explore their patterns, and leave with actionable insights and tools. Our approach to mental health is not a bandaid, it's a workout, honed by years of research and work with leaders. We see the launch of our studio as the first step toward making emotional fitness accessible to people from all walks of life, at an affordable price."

The studio's programming, overseen by Coa's Head of Emotional Fitness Vaneeta Sandhu, PsyD, is designed to apply to a wide variety of challenges with both drop-in classes and weekly, ongoing series. The studio curriculum will cater to common challenges like managing mental health in leadership roles, anxiety, imposter syndrome, parenting, and more. Additionally, Coa will continue to offer free community classes to address timely and culturally relevant needs such as improving BIPOC allyship and addressing political anxiety. Studio programming will kick off with an eight-week Emotionally Fit Leadership series later this year. 

Coa's classes are designed to be an approachable on-ramp to mental healthcare, as well as a support system for maintaining an ongoing routine. Individuals who are ready to invest in deeper one-on-one support can take advantage of Coa's network of therapists and personalized therapist matchmaking process, overseen by Dr. Jamie Goldstein, PsyD, which assists in finding a therapist based on a detailed questionnaire and a one-on-one conversation with Coa's Therapy Experience team. The matchmaking service is currently available in California with plans to expand to New York and nationally over the year ahead.

The funding round will be used to launch Coa's online studio, hire a robust team of therapist emotional fitness instructors, expand program offerings, support ongoing emotional fitness tracking, digital exercises, and community features, and to open up brick-and-mortar studios as soon as safety protocols allow.