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Starting a Coaching Business During a Global Pandemic

BY Julie Dunkle

When so many other coaches were struggling with client retention, this coach was able to launch a successful and thriving coaching company. Here's how:

Races canceled, unemployment is at an all-time high, people are not traveling, pools and gyms are closed, all reasons to start a new business? At first glance, absolutely not, but after some brainstorming, it seemed like the ideal time.

As Charles Darvin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” With COVID-19, it was clear that to survive as a coach, change was necessary.

I co-founded NYX Endurance as the pandemic worsened, and endurance events were being canceled. Our founding principles go beyond just the usual swim, bike and run. Instead, we focus on what triathlon brings to your life; community, the pursuit of being better, working together to reach goals. With such a broad focus, transcending beyond just swim, bike and run, our athletes have stayed with us. We are filling a void. 

Keeping Athletes Motivated During COVID-19

As the pandemic escalated, athletes’ goals and priorities changed overnight, and the need for a coach was unclear. We pivoted quickly, changing from races to challenges. Many coaches focused on keeping their existing athletes healthy by not taxing the immune system by overdoing it. Still, we took a different approach, offering our athletes an outlet to relieve the stress of a global pandemic, working from home, job uncertainty and canceled races. We provided our athletes the chance to reach further, train harder, get stronger.

Giving Athletes Something Different

For those that had the fire burning hot, we offered:

  • Everesting on the bike
  • Running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.
  • Strength Challenges
  • A month of BINGO. We created a custom Bingo Card for our athletes, 25 squares, 5 rows and columns with swim, bike, run or strength workouts. The workouts ranged from 500 squats to 100 mile bike ride for the Varsity and 250 squats and 50 mile bike ride for the Junior Varsity Card.  We worked each athlete to schedule all the workouts throughout the month to meet their goal of completing certain rows/columns or a full blackout.

We offered a modified version of each event for those who do not want to be as rigorously challenged, which allowed them to be part of the community and enjoy the sense of camaraderie. We discovered that it was a big piece currently missing from the athlete experience and we replaced that virtually. 

How Coaching Changed During COVID-19

With pre-event zoom calls, nutrition strategizing for more extended events and post-event recaps, we are coaching our athletes toward real goals. And they love it! Since starting, we have not lost any athletes, we have added to our roster. The level of engagement is high, and as coaches, we are working harder than in a typical season, but it’s successful, and we are growing each day as this “adventure” continues. 

Our numbers show we are on the right track. We use social media to share the challenges, and we have attracted some new athletes who are feeling lost without traditional races. Many have joined the NYX Mob, our membership group, and a few have bridged up to 1:1 Coaching. The feedback we are getting is that we are filling the void. Each challenge builds the community, there is camaraderie throughout the challenge, shout outs for success, and goals are set and achieved. In effect “we feel like athletes.”

About Julie Dunkle

Julie Dunkle is the Co-Founder of NYX Endurance, a Global Endurance Coaching Company. We’re a group of coaches who like to get our hands dirty. We believe in being in the arena so that we can be the ultimate foundation for our athletes. We train, we race, we fail, and we succeed. We are passionate about your goals and we created NYX because we love the process of unearthing your potential.  Julie is a 16x time Ironman finisher, with 7 Kona Qualifications and over 30, 70’s finishes, Julie uses her experience to offer personalized coaching. Follow NYX Endurance on Instagram and Facebook.  You can find Julie on the trails running with her two Vizsla’s Roo and Mako.