What is a “Chaski?” How is it pronounced? What does it mean?
The word “Chaski” comes from Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of the Andes and descendants of the Incas. It is pronounced “cha” (as in “cha-cha slide”) and “ski” as in what you do when you slide down a mountain with boards on your feet. The emphasis is on the first syllable: CHA-ski.
As for the spelling, the Quechua writing system was lost with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century and so any Quechua word that you see written with our alphabet has simply been translated phonetically. So you might sometimes see Chaski written “chasqui” or even “chasqi,” but we have chosen “Chaski” to avoid confusion about how to pronounce the second syllable.
“Chaski” was the title given to the messenger-runners whose duties were essential in operating the Incan Empire. Revered for their endurance, Chaskis ran over and across the Andes Mountains and through deserts along the ancient Qhapaq Ñan, the network of Inca trails, delivering coded messages.
In a very cool linguistic feature, “Chaski” is also a verb meaning to exchange, share, or give-and-take (derived from the responsibilities of the messengers).
Chaski Endurance Collective hopes to embody every sense of the original Quechua meaning. We seek to embody the messenger-runners’ formidable skills at covering ground and live the act of exchanging and sharing ideas and experiences with athletes and coaches.
I’m an athlete. Why should I coach online?
We understand. Like you, we’re athletes who want to train, compete, and continue to pursue our dreams.
We also understand how hard it is to get the support needed to survive based solely on traditional sponsorships from shoe and gear companies. Most athletes, even Olympic caliber, end up working part or full-time jobs, or finding other “side-hustles”. Many leave the sport entirely because they can’t find a balance of having time and energy to train while working enough to support themselves.
Online coaching is a great way to earn money in a way that harnesses your unique skills, knowledge, and renown as an athlete. If you’ve gotten yourself to a high level in endurance sport, you already have a great deal of knowledge and experience that you can use to help others. That knowledge and experience, along with the support and training that Chaski provides all its coaches, helps ensure that you can be successful, and that the experience is great for you and for those you coach.
The bottom line is that our coaches make $25 to $38 per hour (for coaching) plus bonuses in a flexible job that harnesses their unique skills, and lets them set their own hours and work from wherever they want in their sweatpants.
Moreover, online coaching fits particularly well in the life of an active endurance athlete. The work can all be done remotely from anywhere on Earth that has a decent Internet connection, and you can do it in your running clothes with your feet up on the sofa. There’s no commute, no standing up all day, no long/fixed hours. Just flexible work that, we hope, is actually pretty fun and rewarding.
You say that Chaski is “a new type of online coaching business;” how so?
(1) Our collective model and scalable financial incentive structure;
(2) Our system of positive feedback loops to promote high level athlete-coaches;
(3) Our mission, based on community and empowerment.
Chaski operates on the principle that a collective of athletes is stronger than the sum of its parts. Unlike the countless online coaching companies out there, Chaski doesn’t rely on one individual’s ideas or ego, but is a true collective, drawing on the varied and diverse knowledge and experience of its coaches. We’re all able to learn from one another and grow to provide the best possible coaching experience to the athletes we coach.
Moreover, the collective model is unique in its ability to provide financial support for coaches. We’ve built a system which encourages you to improve as a coach, root for your fellow coaches, and benefit from the success of the collective as a whole.
As elite athletes ourselves, we have first-hand knowledge of how athlete sponsorship often falls short, under-valuing and under-utilizing high-level athletes. We’ve created a model which recognizes the fundamental truth that Chaski, or any brand, should want the athlete to become more successful and well-known and, likewise, the athlete should want the same for the brand so that the brand can support the athlete at a higher level. It’s in the best interest of both parties to help the other become successful. We want to harness this idea to promote your personal brand as an athlete by highlighting your existing content and creating amazing new content showcasing our stable of talent.
Our mission is to foster community and empower athletes and this applies across the board. Everyone at Chaski is part of a team which supports and empowers the individual coaches as they work to empower their athletes. This entire community of athletes can connect, share, and inspire one another. Our hope is that by building this community, we’ll be able to increase engagement in the sport at all levels and improve overall athlete health, happiness, and performance.
Do I need coaching experience to apply?
Short answer - No. You don’t need coaching experience to apply.
Longer answer - That said, you’ll have a much better understanding of coaching methodology and philosophy by the time you actually interact w/ a client after completing our rigorous coach’s on-boarding curriculum.
Our goal is to lower the barrier of entry to online coaching for elite athletes and we do that by offering a full training program in-house. We are confident that we can take a high-performing athlete and help him or her become a high-performing coach.
Most applicants have some coaching experience and/or have achieved a high level of performance in sport and thus have a strong fundamental concept of training and physiological principles. Those with less coaching experience, will have to spend more time in the coach-training phase of on-boarding before they actually start coaching.
Do I need a coaching certification to become a Chaski coach?
Yes, but you don’t need it to apply. If you’re accepted and you don’t have any coaching certifications, you’ll need to take USATF’s basic certification course, which you can do online and which Chaski will pay for once you sign your first full-year contract. In addition, you’ll need to go through our in-house coaching curriculum (which will also be done online) and which will honestly teach you way more than the USATF course.
How does online coaching work?
There are many online coaching products out there, and the term “online coaching” means many things -- everything from cookie-cutter programs (“Couch to 5K”), to individualized programs generated by algorithm based on PRs (McMillan), to sending workouts via email.
At Chaski, “online coaching” refers to a one-on-one relationship between a coach and an athlete. You’ll begin by getting to know your athlete and understanding their unique goals and background. From there, you’ll provide them with a custom training plan that you’ll build out week-by-week based on their progress and specific short and long term goals. This training plan will map out specific training on a day-by-day basis including how long/fast training sessions should be and what the total volume for the week should look
like (though the exact level of granularity should be tailored to the athlete’s wishes).
Every week, you’ll have a scheduled call with each of your athletes to review the previous week’s training, go over any questions they have, and then discuss the plan for the upcoming week. Your athlete should understand both what they’re doing and why they’re doing it!
In addition, your athlete will be able to contact you as needed (within reason) during the week by text or email with quick questions.
You’ll be provided with an account to use an online platform for logging and writing training plans. The platform will allow you to monitor your athlete’s training on a daily basis and provide constant feedback.
Who will I be coaching?
You’ll be working with motivated endurance athletes of all abilities. We don’t have any kind of performance bias when taking on clients and welcome athletes looking for an OTQ, a BQ, or to simply finish a race. In general, we’ll try to match athletes with coaches based on event type (e.g. road, trail, ultra, track, etc.), geographic location, gender preference, etc.
Most athletes who hire an online coach really do care about their performance, regardless of their ability. These are often people who want more structure and guidance; maybe they want to understand how to train at a higher level or maybe they’re just getting started. You’ll be able to use your experience and training from Chaski to determine what your athletes are looking for and help them on the path along the way.
What happens if my client gets injured or can’t train anymore?
Injuries suck, but they happen. We don’t want to add another layer of suckiness, so if an injury is serious enough to keep your athletes from running, they will have the option of putting their training plan on hold for up to 2 months.
If an athlete can still work out (e.g., swim, bike, or run with limitations), we’ will recommend to the athletes that they continue working with you, adapting the previous training load to whatever methods of cross training might be available. But if the athlete really can’t train, it’s likely that the “hold” will make the most sense; in that case, you can keep in touch and reconnect fully once they’re back to health.
Am I an elite athlete? How do you define that?
Honestly, it’s subjective. If you’re coming here from LetsRun, you know that no matter how fast you are, there are plenty of people on the Internet who will tell you you’re just a hobby-jogger.
That’s not how we think (and go ahead and rip on us, LRC forum posters). To the average runner, the difference between a 2h04 marathon and a 2h34 marathon is inconsequential because they’re both so incomprehensible.
Here are some basic bare-minimum ideas of how we define “elite”.
You’ve won races before
You’ve competed on a D1 college team
You’ve competed on a strong D3 college team
You currently compete for a competitive club team
We also value “former elite” athletes who bring other skills to the table, such as coaching experience, so if you were a D1 athlete but don’t run competitively anymore, you may still be a good candidate depending on what else you bring to the table.
If you’re in doubt about whether you qualify as an “elite athlete”, feel free to email or call us. We promise not to troll you.
How much will I make?
Short answer: $25 to $38 per hour + bonuses.
Longer answer - We have 3 tiers for compensating athlete-coaches. The tier to which you’re assigned will be based upon:
Your coaching experience and acclaim
Your athletic experience and renown
Your overall fan-base/following
Any other valuable experience or skills that could help the Collective
Depending on the tier, you’ll earn a minimum of $100-150 per month per full-time coaching client. In addition to this, you’ll earn bonuses for individual and group milestones (e.g. when you refer clients into the Collective or when the Collective as a whole reaches certain milestones). You can also earn commission-based bonuses for other services sold.
Exact details of bonus and payment structures are proprietary and will be outlined in your contract.
How much do I need to work? How much can I work?
We ask you to coach a minimum of 5 athletes per month (approximately 5 hours per week) -- though exceptions are possible if you have a unique circumstance or skill-set.
If you want to take on more clients, that will depend on your availability and your time in The Collective. In your first couple of months, we want to make sure you understand the Chaski methodology and philosophy, so we’ll limit the number of clients you take on. As you get more comfortable coaching (and we get good feedback from your athletes), we’ll allow you to take on more and more athletes.
In the end, the limiting factor will be how much time you have. As long as you’re able to do a good job managing your client load, we’ll happily keep supporting you and sending more clients your way.
What happens if I get too busy or need to take some time off from coaching?
One of the benefits of the collective model is the ability to share your work-load if need be. If you need to travel for a big race, have a significant family commitment, or just want to take a vacation, you can arrange ahead of time to have another Chaski coach take over your workload for some period.
If you want to take a longer amount of time off due to work/life circumstances, we’re happy to talk about how we can help you.
I’m already an established coach; why should I join Chaski?
Short answer - Chaski can help you make you more money, grow as a coach, increase your productivity, and provide more support and community engagement then you’re currently receiving.
Longer answer - Whatever the size of your coaching operation, we think we can help you earn more to support yourself as an athlete and a coach. Our fundamental principle is that the coach’s success is The Collective’s success and vice versa. Thus, it’s in everyone’s best interest that each coach is as successful as they can be. We’ve developed a unique incentive structure to help you make more, whether or not you’re at max capacity of athletes you can personally coach. Beyond earning money from coaching, you can receive group and individual bonuses, profit sharing from The Collective as a whole, funding for awesome content projects, and more.
If you’re a small-scale coach with a handful of clients now, Chaski is the perfect way to take the next step. We know from personal experience that growing a coaching business -- from what often starts as an “under the table” arrangement w/ a few personal connections or fans into a legitimate business -- can be more complicated than it seems. Making sure you’re protected legally and that you’re paying the appropriate taxes can be a headache. Chaski takes care of all of the business and administration side so that you can focus on empowering and interacting with your athletes.
Moreover, our collective model is built around the idea that many hands make light work.
Many tasks can be handled centrally, for example, building and maintaining a website, promoting your coaching via social media, managing the intake of new clients, etc.
Not only do we want to streamline these processes, but we also want to use the strength of The Collective to help make each of us better athletes and coaches. Everyone brings unique skills, knowledge, and experience to the table and we know that everyone can benefit from hearing from other athlete-coaches.
Finally, we are truly creating a community of athletes. We want to have fun, produce content that’s compelling for our target audience and fun for us to create, and share experiences between us, as coaches, and our athletes and fans.
What else does Chaski do to make my life better/easier?
Here’s a short (and non-exhaustive) list of what you get as a Chaski Coach:
$25-38 per hour for coaching work
25% of margin on all other products/services
Individual Bonuses - get paid for clients you bring in
Group Bonuses - longer you stay, more you work -> higher bonus
Longer term - Profit sharing/equity opportunities
Substitute coverage (for vacations, race-weeks, emergencies when you can’t coach)
Mentoring from more experienced coaches/athletes
In-house curriculum - learn about specialties outside your own
Down the road - funding for outside coaching certifications
Personal Webpage, Instagram linktree
Promotion and Cool Projects
Client acquisition and management
Matching with clients whose interest and styles line up with yours
Individual and Collective marketing and promotion
Billing, invoicing, payment, taxesn
Insurance, legal protection
Promotion of you and your content - opportunity for exposure
Funding for cool projects, promotional media, content
Longer term: straight up sponsorship $ and salaries for coaches with proven success
Community of fellow high level athletes/coaches and amateur clients
Industry insider info - contract negotiation, race entry help/opportunities
Sponsorship opportunities - personal connections to other brands and events
What is Chaski’s training philosophy?
In one sentence? Our coaching objective is to improve an athlete’s health, performance, and love for their sport by formulating individualized, adaptive, process-oriented approaches that harness scientific principles and human-to-human connection.
In everyday language? We want our athletes to be happier, healthier, and higher-performing. We believe that there is no one methodology that’s perfect for all athletes, but that training must be individualized. We believe in training that is catered to an individual’s strengths, background, and goals and is adapted to how the athlete is progressing (and other events in his or her life). We believe in focusing on developing a love for the process of self-improvement and setting process-oriented goals. We believe in science and believe that data can be useful (though too much data can also be overwhelming and distracting). And we believe in the power of personal connection between humans for motivation and inspiration.
I get that Chaski coaches have all competed at a high level, but does that make them good coaches?
Not necessarily! Being a good athlete doesn’t make you a good coach. But a good athlete has the potential to use their experience to become a great coach.
All Chaski coaches have experience competing in their sport at an elite level. Some of our coaches come to Chaski with decades of coaching experience, while some have never coached before.
Before any Chaski coach interacts with an athlete, they must complete a certification course through USATF (USA Track & Field), along with a rigorous Chaski curriculum designed to impart our core training principles (see below), while allowing coaches to also have input based on their own experiences.
Further, new coaches are paired with more experienced mentor-coaches, all of whom are encouraged to continue learning both in and outside their specialty over the course of their coaching career.
Our coaching is based more on principles, values, and objectives than specific “cookie cutter” formulae.
How much independence do I have as a coach? Can I coach using my own approach? How much guidance will I receive?
Our goal is to provide all coaches with as much support and guidance as possible, while ensuring a consistently great experience for our clients. If you have coaching experience already, that’s great. We want to harness the skills and experience you’ve already got. If you’ve never coached before, we want to help lower the barrier of entry and give you the skills you need to be a successful coach.
While we do not want to micromanage coaches, Chaski does set forth a definite coaching philosophy, and it’s important that all Chaski coaches understand and practice it. Similarly, while it’s not in our interest to have coaches providing “cookie-cutter” training programs to our clients, we do want specific training plans to be consistent with basic physiological training principles. Finally, we want coaches to follow certain methodologies and use certain tools to ensure that clients have a consistently great experience with coaches, and coaches are able to provide that experience with a minimum of hassle for the coach.
All of the above will be covered in detail when you join Chaski and go through the on-boarding process. And as time goes on, you’ll be encouraged to continue learning about sport and coaching from our in-house materials as well as external coaching certifications.
Lastly, all new coaches will be paired with a more experienced Chaski coach who will serve as your mentor, helping you through the on-boarding process, and answering any questions that come up during your first few months of coaching.
Do I have to coach on a specific platform?
Yes. We don’t want to micromanage you, but there are certain things that we do need to streamline in order to operate smoothly and efficiently as a group. So, we need everyone coaching via the same platform. Training on how to use this software will happen during your on-boarding procedure and your mentor and admins will be able to help you get things set up and answer any questions as you continue coaching.
Do I have to coach using heart-rate/pace/power/etc?
Short answer - No.
Longer answer - It’s really more up to the client than it is up to you. Some coaches have really honed in the use of metrics (HR zones, pace zones, power wattage, etc.) available via modern endurance sport technology, and there are certain clients who love nerding out about their data and will want that kind of super data-driven coaching approach. Others might not own a GPS watch and may have never kept a running log before. We want to be able to coach both of these athletes (and any in between).
Depending on your background as a coach and athlete, we hope to be able to connect you with the athletes that match your coaching style. That said, we still want you to be able to coach athletes who want minimal data analysis, as well as those who want the data-heavy plan.
Why would I join the Chaski Collective when I could just sign up my own clients, have them pay me directly, and have the freedom to charge what I want?
You absolutely could do that.
But we believe that we’ve built Chaski to make the experience of coaching in the collective way, way better than coaching on your own.
We think most athletes who become coaches want to be effective and efficient with their coaching time. Most don’t want it to be a time-consuming chore with the hassle of setting up systems, searching for resources, figuring out how to communicate with clients, and always wondering whether clients are getting what they need. As part of Chaski, you’ll make money, have to deal with less bullshit, and have more fun than working on your own.
Of course, if you really want 100% autonomy and want to run things differently, that’s your call and we’ll sadly let you go. However, it’s in our best interest to keep you happy and earning as much as you can. If we can do that, we think you’ll be with us for the long term.
Can you tell me more about the bonus structure and profit sharing?
The Collective Model is built around the concept of all coaches being invested, personally and financially, in the success of the individual and the group. We’ve created a unique bonus structure which -- we hope -- creates this exact incentive.
From an individual perspective, you’ll obviously earn more with each athlete that you coach. Beyond that, we pay you a bonus (added to your monthly salary) for every athlete that signs up based on your referral. In other words, even after you’ve reached your capacity for coaching, you can still advertise the coaching of the Collective and receive a bonus for any athletes who sign up after hearing about the Collective through you.
From a group perspective, we’ve implemented Collective Milestone Bonuses that are paid to all coaches when the entire group hits specific numbers of new clients (e.g. 50 clients in a month). Everyone gets paid out when the group hits these bonuses, but the amount of the bonus that you’ll receive is a factor of (A) how long you’ve been with the Collective, (B), how much you’ve worked, and, (C) how much you’ve engaged w/ the community on various projects. These bonuses function as a profit sharing mechanism with an incentive to stick around, work more, and engage with the community.
What kind of athletes will I coach?
Short answer - athletes of all abilities who best match your specialty and style.
Longer answer - It’s likely that most of your athletes will be “mid-pack”, i.e., in the middle of the bell curve of finishers. Our goal is to empower athletes and foster community for every one of our athletes, regardless of extrinsic ability or potential. Most athletes who are looking for a human-to-human coaching relationship are highly motivated and care greatly about their sport, how they train, race, etc. Your job as a coach is to help them establish and work towards their goals whether that’s qualifying for the Olympics or finishing their first ultra.
That said, we will try to match you with athletes that make sense for you. If your specialty as an athlete is in track and road racing, we’re more likely to send you someone focused on the half marathon than someone running their first 100-miler. The Collective Model gives us the flexibility to match clients with coaches who will be the best fit.
It sounds great! How do I join the Collective?
The first step is simply to fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page. We’re growing quickly and always looking to connect with good people who might want to join our coaching staff. If you’re on the fence, there’s no harm in reaching out to schedule an initial conversation. We’ll try to find a space for anyone that seems like a good fit!