As someone interested in using Noom to lose weight, you’ve probably heard rumors that the app no longer offers 1-on-1 coaching services and that “Noom Coaches” have been replaced by “Noom Guides.”
My colleagues at FeastGood.com and I have been using the Noom app on and off for the last two years, and below, I’ll share the differences between the two and whether or not you can still get personalized help on the Noom app.
- Noom laid off approximately 1,000 people in 2022. The layoffs primarily affected coaches, nearly halving the number of experts who served the app’s large user base and provided 1-on-1 weight loss guidance and support.
- Many Noom users found themselves without a coach as news of the layoffs made headlines. Initially, it appeared that 1:1 coaching was still an option, but only for people based in the US. The service cost extra, and users had to request it explicitly.
- As of November 2023, the company has shifted its focus from 1-on-1 coaching to “Noom Guides”––a group of unnamed experts who answer your questions, provide feedback, and share resources in a chat. These are real people and not bot replies, but it’s far from the previously personalized coaching experience.
The Evolution Of Noom Coaching
The first version of Noom, a digital weight-management tool, was launched in 2011.
It came with a steady stream of educational content on human psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help users understand why they did things and hopefully build better habits.
Later, the company introduced chat support in the form of AI bots that coached people along the way and helped them overcome roadblocks.
However, despite their best intentions, the model didn’t work.
The company’s CEO and co-founder, Saeju Jeong, saw what was missing: the human touch.
He realized that the only way for the app to work is for the users to get empathy, passion, and connection to an actual human expert.
Solely relying on education wouldn’t cut it, especially when it came to improving people’s lives.
So, in 2017, Noom replaced the AI chatbots with full-time certified coaches.
Instead of getting the same automated responses as before, users could now interact with human experts capable of nuanced thinking, empathy, and the ability to solve problems.
Users would be assigned a coach, who over time, would work with them 1-on-1 to get to know their specific needs and create personalized interventions to help them on their weight loss journey.
The shift was a success, albeit an expensive one. It was the right move for Noom, as it instantly set the company apart from all the other apps on the market.
Following the shift, Noom gained a reputation as an app where users can get personalized advice, motivation, empathy, and ongoing support from a real coach.
Sure, the app’s other features were also great, but many people got on board because they believed in Noom’s vision.
In the company’s words:
“At Noom, we believe that support and motivation from real human coaches helps foster healthy outcomes for our users, and leads to great success. Learning healthier habits isn’t easy, but it can be transformative. Our coaches guide users through the ups and downs of the weight loss journey with empathy and compassion. They help users better understand themselves through personalized action plans that are based on their individual goals, preferences, and lifestyle.”
The 2022 Shift at Noom
Sadly, all good things must eventually end, and Noom’s model was no exception.
Noom initially had a lot of coaches assigned to support clients, keep them accountable, and provide personalized guidance. That feature was actively promoted inside the app and was Noom’s unique selling proposition.
However, things changed in 2022 when the company laid off approximately 500 employees, mainly in the coaching department. A few months later, the company laid off another 500 employees. Again, these were primarily coaches.
According to sources like TechCrunch, these two rounds of layoffs nearly halved the number of coaches, leaving around 1,000 experts to serve Noom’s massive user base.
These rounds of layoffs didn’t go unnoticed. They made headlines, and numerous users complained about “disappearing coaches” and losing their assigned coach overnight without warning.
Here is what one Reddit user wrote:
“I also lost my coach this week. I called customer service and was told more or less that it was part of corporate plans. I also emailed in the hopes that I could ask to be paired with my coach again, but no answer yet. I joined Reddit 30 minutes ago after reading about how coaches had been laid off two days ago.”
Noom Coaches vs Noom Guides: How They Differ
Following the large-scale layoffs of coaches at Noom, many users were assigned to Noom Guides.
This feature was (and still is) somewhat confusing, with new users struggling to understand the difference and determine if the answers they are getting are from actual people and not a chatbot.
First, let’s understand the difference between Noom Guides and Noom Coaches.
A Noom coach is an expert assigned to a person. Coaches help Noom users set goals and change their habits. They keep users accountable by checking in regularly, supporting them 1:1, and having live video sessions.
In other words, Noom coaching is similar to online fitness coaching. Users know who is coaching them, and they must provide frequent progress updates, which keeps them more motivated.
On the other hand, we have Noom Guides.
The primary difference is that one is not assigned to you. Instead, you gain chat access to a group of experts who provide personalized tips, share helpful resources, and give you feedback.
Are Noom Guides Bots?
One thing that could make people less trusting in Noom Guides is you never know who responds because their name is not displayed. It just says ‘Noom Guides.’
In other words, you may chat with Noom Guides, send six messages, and receive replies from two, four, or six different people, though you can never know.
I interacted with Noom Guides for several weeks, asking questions about the app, my health, dieting, food choices, and tracking my nutrition while on vacation.
For the most part, I don’t believe Noom Guides are bots, though I wouldn’t be surprised if certain simple questions receive an automated bot response. (As far as I could tell, I never got an automated response.)
That said, some Noom Guides seemed more involved than others. For instance, when I asked about my protein intake, one Guide sent a brief message with some links to resources:
Later, when I sent a message asking about my protein intake if I eat mostly plants, the response was far more actionable:
I was also pleasantly surprised by their tips when I asked about tracking my nutrition while on vacation:
Does Noom Give You A Coach? Can You Request One?
Let’s say that Noom Guides are not your cup of tea, and you need more personalized support to reach your goals. Can you still get a coach on Noom after the 2022 layoffs?
Noom still offered 1:1 coaching to users in October 2023.
However, it was evident that the company was slowly shifting from coaching to Noom Guides.
New users could access Guides from the start, and coaching services weren’t advertised anywhere in the app.
When testing the app, I looked through the dashboard, settings, customer support pages, and elsewhere, never finding a button to request a coach or instructions on asking for one.
After struggling to request 1:1 coaching and trying to figure out the difference between Guides and Coaches, I messaged the Guides and asked. Could I have a coach assigned?
They told me that 1:1 coaching was only available for people living in the US (I don’t live in the US).
The Guides also informed me that coaching was a paid extra, though they did not specify how much it would have cost me.
Since that was a dead end and I couldn’t learn much about the Noom coaching, I decided to reach out to a colleague based in the US.
Less than two months after my last interactions with the Noom Guides, she also reached out to request coaching services.
Interestingly, the Noom Guide she spoke with told her that 1:1 coaching is no longer an option and that Noom Guides are all that’s available for users now.
So, there we are.
Coaching is not an option on Noom as of November 2023. Only time will tell whether that’s a temporary situation or Noom’s new plan moving forward.
My gut says the days of 1-on-1 coaching through Noom is gone forever.
Are Noom Coaches Real People? My Experience
Despite the major layoffs at Noom, coaches are real people. Any user paying extra for 1:1 coaching can rest assured knowing that an actual expert is helping them on their health and fitness journey.
In addition to their thorough replies and personalized health, Noom Coaches sit down for video calls with clients to work through issues and see how their clients are doing.
What Certifications Do Noom Guides Have?
Noom has some information about the requirements to be a coach.
Assuming that Noom shifted some of their Noom Coaches to Noom Guides during the transition from 1-on-1 coaching, we can imply the needed credentials.
Some of their requirements are:
- Bachelor’s Degree in a related field
- Associate’s Degree + 2,000 hours of wellness experience
- Helpful but not necessary to be familiar with the National Diabetes Prevention Program
A Noom Coach hosted an ask-me-anything session on Reddit, and one of the users asked about credentials and certifications.
The coach responded:
“You are required to have a minimum BS or BA and extensive training and/or experience working within healthcare and mental healthcare.
Many coaches are RDs, certified coaches with national coaching credentials, and/or hold a master’s degree in social work/psych/counseling, nutritionists, etc. Ultimately, being a coach requires a combination of experience and technical understanding, but those two things can manifest in different ways (one coach may be a nutritionist, and another may have years of experience working in social work).”
In addition to these requirements, Noom Coaches can continue learning and expanding their expertise through continuing education events and NBHWC (National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching) training courses.
Coaches who complete these can sit for the Health and Wellness Coach Certifying Examination.
So, Should You Still Use Noom?
In fact, our team at FeastGood.com still thinks Noom is one of the best apps for weight loss. You can check out our video review below:
For other resources related to Noom, check out:
About The Author
Philip Stefanov is a certified conditioning coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor. With more than nine years of experience in the industry, he’s helped hundreds of clients improve their nutritional habits, become more consistent with exercise, lose weight in a sustainable way, and build muscle through strength training. He is passionate about writing and has published more than 500 articles on various topics related to healthy nutrition, dieting, calorie and macronutrient tracking, meal planning, fitness and health supplementation, best training practices, and muscle recovery.
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