From Coach to Founder: Giselle Barbosa’s Inspired Journey to Entrepreneurship

An accomplished former professional athlete, author, and successful entrepreneur, Giselle Barbosa has already achieved more than most people do in a lifetime at a young age. Her athletic accomplishments are made all the more impressive when you consider she was born with a significant birth defect. 

Barbosa was born with Poland Syndrome, a rare condition where a baby is born without certain muscles on one side of their body, which can lead to significant disabilities. In her case, she was born without her left pectoral muscle. Determined to give her the best chance possible, her physician recommended she start swimming at a very young age to help her develop her muscles and build strength, and she’s never looked back. 

Her journey didn’t stop at conquering the pool. She went on to excel in every sport her school offered, competed worldwide in CrossFit, authored a children’s book, and founded multiple companies. Her latest venture, Reflect, is a testament to her innovative spirit and commitment to enhancing people’s health and fitness journeys. 

Keep reading to learn more about her inspiring journey from a star athlete to a multi-business founder. 

  1. What was the turning point or motivation for you to move from being a coach to aspiring to be an entrepreneur?

As an athlete you’re constantly looking for ways to monetize your career, whether that be through sponsorships or coaching. And so I took up coaching while I was competing. During this time I also co-founded the first mental health and wellness business in Web3. It was acquired after a year, which was around the same time that I obtained a career ending knee injury. When my current co-founder and CTO came to me with the idea of Reflect, it seemed natural to dive in head first. With my background in fitness, coaching, sports psychology and business, it was a natural progression and I knew we were going to make it into something big. 

  1. Transitioning from a coach to a company owner is a significant leap. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during this transition?

I honestly feel like there are a lot of carryovers from coaching to starting a company. You understand discipline, organization, delegation and how to work with a team. You understand people; what they want and how to provide them with a service. You’re constantly learning to keep up with the latest studies in and around health and fitness. So I would say my biggest challenge was finding balance in my work. Understanding that as a founder of a health and fitness company, I too needed to practice what I preached. To prioritize my health and fitness and to make that as important as the work itself. 

  1. What kind of support and resources did you find most valuable while becoming an entrepreneur?

Definitely surrounding myself with good people. And when I say good people, I don’t mean “yes men” or people who are always celebrating you. People who you look up to and take on a mentorship role in your life. People who are not afraid to tell you when you’re wrong. Resources and publications like Coach360 to stay up-to-date with the latest trends help a lot when it comes to daily learning and staying ahead. Like you learn in sports – it’s good to be aware of your surroundings, but always focus on what you are doing and stay in your lane. 

  1. Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to coaches or health and fitness professionals considering launching their own business?

Take time to research your market and your customers’ pain points. Before you start building anything, interview them and collect data so that you know exactly what people want. A lot of the time you are building for other people, not yourself. Never stop learning. Actively mark out time in your day to read about what is going on in the health and fitness space so that you do not get left behind. And understand the difference between busyness and productivity. Learn to be outcome based instead of filling your days with endless work. This really is where the power of AI helps. 

  1. Now that you are an entrepreneur and business owner, what aspects of your role bring you the most satisfaction? How do you measure success in your business?

I get a lot of satisfaction from fixing problems that I had experienced during my time as a coach (and as an online and in-person athlete). I don’t want people to go through those same experiences, and so being creative with problem solving has been very rewarding. I also love people and building communities. That is something that makes me extremely happy when starting a company – bringing like-minded people together and helping them achieve their goals. We measure success by how much our users are earning. So simply the more our coaches earn, the more we know we are doing a good job.


Meg Lambrych, RN, NASM-CPT, PN-1
Meg Lambrych is a registered nurse, personal trainer, and nutritionist with 15 years of experience helping people reach their goals and expand their knowledge. She now works as a freelance health writer, partnering with innovative brands to educate and inspire readers in the digital publishing space.

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