5 Things You Can Learn From a Cruise about Owning a Gym

Thanks to the rest of the STS Team I had the ability to enjoy a nice weeklong cruise to the Caribbean. Leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale we stopped at the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Haiti. Not only where all three spots absolutely beautiful, but the time on the ship was just as fun. While enjoying the stops and everything the cruise had to offer, I picked up on a lot of small things.


I get a lot of questions about what it takes to open a gym, how do you go about it, and what makes STS successful. Well, here are five things I picked up on that a successful cruise line does, that every gym owner should be doing.

1. Systemized

Every single process on the cruise had a system. They had a system for greeting us as we arrived to the Port, how they checked us on, reviewing the safety protocols, meals, activities, and more. What to the general Joe seemed like this extravagant process, was really just a series of systems put in place, that they crew executed, and made everything flow smoothly. Just like this crew ship, a successful gym needs to have a series of systems. How are you going to greet someone? How is an assessment going to be conducted? When is cleaning going be done? These all seem like really small things, but if you don’t have s system in place, it can get very chaotic.

2. Organization & Cleanliness 

A good system will fail if it is not organized. It will fail if the staff is not organized. Would you want to go on a ship that was disorganized and dirty? You probably wouldn’t want to go to a gym that was that way either. This crew was extremely organized and had everything spotless.

I am tall fella, stretching out in the morning at about 6’6”. What this allowed me to do during my time on the boat was to see how closely they pay attention to cleaning. I would reach up high on shelves, corners of rooms, on top of televisions and refrigerators checking for dust. Spotless. They had an organized system to clean every inch of that ship from the floors, to the little handrail in the bathroom, to the molding in the casino.

A successful facility not only has systems in place. These systems are structured in a way that is organized. Part of the system design is paying attention to the clean factor. A gym is a tough place to keep clean, but it pays off if you can keep it shining.

 3.  Always Smiling

It didn’t matter if they were on duty or off duty. It didn’t matter if it was 6am or 11pm. It didn’t matter if they were in housekeeping or activities. I don’t remember ever passing a crew member on the ship that didn’t say hello, with a bright smile, as I walked past them. They may be having a bad day, or didn’t sleep the night before, but they realize we are there on vacation to have a good time, and if they’re not smiling, it will affect our mood.

This is something so small that can go a long way with your clients. They shouldn’t know that you didn’t sleep well, or that things just aren’t going your way today. Always have a smile on your face. As much as you think you’re in the fitness industry, you’re also in the customer service industry. It doesn’t matter if you have the best programs in the world, if you look miserable, and don’t create an enjoyable atmosphere you won’t have clients for long.

4. Remembering Names

On day one I walked up to my room to unpack and get ready for dinner. In the hallway a housekeeper greeted me. She said, “ Hello Douglas, how are you doing?” At first, I waived it off like it was no big deal. After thinking about it, I realized she had never met me before. How did she know my name?

As you board ship you are assigned a room, and your picture is taken. This picture is also attached to your Sea Pass card, which serves as your identity for the week. It allows you to buy stuff, get into your room, and get back on the ship if you leave. This housekeeper had taken the time before we arrived, to look up all of her rooms and the people’s names. So, as she saw them around ship, she could greet them appropriately. I must have run into her dozens of times, and not once did she forget my name, or my girlfriend’s name.

At the gym, our team knows each clients name. They are greeted every time they walk into the facility, and walk out of the facility. We know their family member names, what they do for work, and what their hobbies are.  To create a welcoming atmosphere you have to create a family type atmosphere. Greeting someone by their first name and taking time to get to know them shows that you care, and will go a long way with that relationship.

5. Stop & Refuel 

At each port the ship docked at we got off to see the island. While we were busy enjoying the white sand and beaches, the crew was hard at work. They were refueling the ship, getting ready for the next meal, and cleaning rooms. Without these stops that boat would eventually run out of food, fuel, and other necessary items.

The biggest lesson this cruise taught me was every once in a while you need to stop and refuel your body, not just with food, but also by taking some time away from everything. Leaving the facility for a week with no communication was a very hard thing, but it was probably one of the best decisions I have made.

When you work, you work harder then no one else. There is no room for half-ass work, and mediocre effort. However, everyone needs to stop and refuel their body and mind in order to be successful at what they do.

This cruise was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing weeks I have ever had. However, watching another “system” in place proved that the fitness industry is not that much different at all.




About Spurling Training Systems

At Spurling Training Systems, our focus is on providing a superior athletic conditioning experience. The combination of expert training, time spent understanding your specific goals and customized program development is what makes Spurling Training Systems a unique and effective training experience for athletes of all ages, levels and abilities. Doug is the founder and owner of Spurling Training Systems. He graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science. He has several years of experience as both a personal trainer for general fitness and a strength and conditioning coach for athletes. His certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).
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