Photo courtesy E Entertainment

"So Joel, how do you know who to listen to and who to shut out?"

“I try to only listen to those whom I”™m confident are on my crew…”

My question came during a conversation I was having during coffee with Joel Johnson, the pastor of my church. Joel had recently officiated the wedding between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries- the Humphries family are long time members of the church and his parents were at one time frequent participants in my Indoor Cycling Classes, until switching locations.

If you follow the tabloid”™s you know that the marriage was dissolved, almost before Kim”™s bouquet of flowers had wilted, with Kim profiting to the tune of $17.9 million. As you can imagine, the drama surrounding the whole event within our church was immense and the criticisms of Joel were brutal. Lots of “I told you so”, “you should have never done the wedding” plus no shortage of destructive gossip going on between church members.

“We were getting so many calls and emails that I had to seclude myself and only engage with the people who continued to demonstrate that they were on my crew.”

“I”™m not sure exactly what you mean by; on my crew?” I told him.

“Let me show you…”

Joel grabbed a napkin and drew this simple diagram.

And then he explained to me that you can assign the people in your life/church/business/community/etc… into one of the four quadrants, each being similar to the roles of the people you would find on a seagoing ship.

  •         Your Crew
  •         Your Passengers
  •         Pirates
  •         Stow Aways

Joel then described his drawing (which he told me he learned from someone else, but I can”™t remember who) and how it identifies:

  •         Involvement — is the person directly involved in your enterprise, Yes or No?
  •         Vision — does the person believe in your vision for the enterprise, Yes or No?

Placed in the context of your Fitness Business:

Your Crew - Involved and believe in your Vision. The loyal Instructors, employees and vendors who work for you. Ever faithful, the people on your Crew are actively (and selflessly) involved in helping you create and maintain a successful business. As the term “Crew” conveys, these people are Team Players, the “life blood” of your business, embracing your Vision and demonstrating it toward your customers and the other members of your Crew. They are the people you can count on. The person who jumps in when something needs to be done or when an emergency sub is needed. Crew members put the needs of the team ahead of their own, working continuously to promote the studio and other Instructor's classes.

Your PassengersNot Involved, but believe in your Vision. Satisfied, regular customers who believe in your Vision and participate in fair exchange with your business*. They bring their friends and speak positively about you to others — while communicating concerns directly to you. Passengers add value to your business both financially and through the positive energy they bring to class. *Fair Exchange is a concept I learned from Dr Shannon years ago, where two people exchange value for something. As long as each feels the exchange is "Fair" then it's all good 🙂

PiratesInvolved, but don't believe in your Vision. Trouble makers who use the word "ME", instead of "WE", demonstrating a belief that it”™s “all about them”, instead of your Team. Pirates can be Involved in your business as Instructors or employees. They contribute to your business, while promoting their own agendas, instead of (or at the expense of) your Vision. They may try to encourage your customer's to attend classes they teach at other locations and may be heard cutting down another Instructor's class. They may be so bold as to sell merchandise out of the trunk of their car. Pirates think nothing of showing up late, being unprepared or calling in sick on short notice. Pirates are very selective of which classes they would consider subbing and will use the opportunity to promote themselves.

Stow Aways — Not Involved nor believe in your Vision. The customers who take advantage of your good will. They insist on free/discounted classes and complain frequently.  Stow Aways are the participants who show up late, do their own thing (complete with iPod/earbuds), disrupt class or may even be disrespectful to your Instructors.

"Joel, what do you do with the Pirates and Stow Aways once you identify them?"

"You need to decide if they are worth keeping around. And if not, I bless them, thank them and say good bye."

He is after all a Pastor.


What prompted me to write this post was an episode of Kitchen Nightmares , a show I love and feel teaches some valuable lessons that you can apply to your Indoor Cycling Class and/or Fitness Business. The story line had the head chef (a Pirate) ruining the restaurant's reputation and yet the owners felt powerless to fire him, because they didn't think they could survive without him.  I've seen (and heard of) similar situations at studios with a prima donna Instructor. Very popular with clients, the Pirate's destructive behavior may have you questioning whether or not you should keep them on your Instructor team.

Have you experienced Pirates or Stow Aways at your studio?

This article is also posted over at

Originally posted 2012-05-05 05:22:16.


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