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Start-up streams health advisors straight to your screen

A group of people engaged in health coaching. People usually do this at their individual desks, but they can choose to be coached in groups.
A group of people engaged in health coaching. People usually do this at their individual desks, but they can choose to be coached in groups.LeanWagon

A Cambridge start-up is hoping to make the traditional health and wellness coach sweat. LeanWagon has developed online wellness coaching programs, where certified health coaches can whip your company into shape — with kind instruction from the comfort of your own desk or home.

Instead of tough love, an entire company could watch and learn from a health coach on their own computer screen and learn about the benefits of kale, improving parenting skills, or how to know if you’re gluten intolerant.

“Health coaching works to change behavior,” said Greg Rublev, LeanWagon CEO. “If someone is not used to eating healthy, to get them to change their behavior they need something called sustained intervention. Give them the push to make the change.”

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Why bother scheduling an appointment with an expensive trainer? It doesn’t get any easier than bringing them into the comfort of your cubicle. You don’t even have to download any software.

If people want to keep their questions private, they can use anonymous handles to raise their personal concerns. Don’t fret about that late-night fridge binge habit anymore. Your co-workers will never know.

But employees can bond, if they want to, over their assignments to make a meal with kale or even have a healthy smoothie party at the office.

When the “whole company is engaged in this healthy behavior, it could change company culture by nurturing and supporting behavior change,” Rublev said.

As a bonus, the state is making it easier on midsize businesses that offer a wellness program to its employees. Workplaces with less than 200 employees, like the companies LeanWagon reaches out to, can qualify for a tax credit for up to a quarter of a certified wellness program’s cost.

Aside from the health benefits and tax breaks, LeanWagon costs about $50 per participant in the program, cheaper than the traditional health coach, although prices vary depending on the program and coach.

The two year-old start-up shifted its focus from individual clients to employers this year, and it has 200 coaches in its roster. LeanWagon is a member of the 2013 Healthbox class, an accelerator program that partners with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

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