Interview with a Cruise Ship Gym Manager & Fitness Instructor

Name: Kirsty Marshall
Nationality: South African
Cruise Line worked for: Royal Caribbean
Cruise ships worked on: Enchantment of the Seas
Length of service: 4 months in 2011
Position: Gym Manager & Fitness Coordinator
Pre-cruise ship background: Personal trainer and instructor certifications, as well as travel and tourism management experience.
See: See Part II of this interview.

Personal Background

Tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am from South Africa and have a BCom degree in management studies degree. I am also a Qualified Personal Trainer, Spinning Instructor, Kettlebells trainer, TRX strap trainer, Yoga & Pilates and Group Functional Trainer

What made you want to work in the cruise industry?

I felt like traveling, seeing the world, and I was promised to make lots of money. I am passionate about fitness and I was drawn to the fact that I would be able to do this every day whilst seeing the world.

What related experience did you have prior to being hired?

I had worked in travel and tourism for an online travel company, where I was their reservations manager for 3 years.

Your Job

What’s your job title?

Gym Manager and Fitness Instructor – there was only me on the ship. Some ships have 2 people in the gym.

Where did you first hear about this job?

Through fitness magazines and I also did some online research.

Did you apply for this job specifically or for several different opportunities all at once?

I applied for this job specifically.

What were the job requirements set forth by the employer?

You need to have a qualification in personal training.

Did you receive any special training or preparation for this job? If so, how long did it take and what specifically did that involve?

Yes, I spent one month training in the UK at my own expense. I had to pay for flights, accommodation, training, uniforms – everything.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

The hours. I worked 12-13 hours a day, 7 days per week. Another challenge is the little pay. I paid to live on the ship every day, and I had no basic salary. I had to give free classes and Americans don’t like to pay for gym classes on a ship. It’s hard just making money off commissions and tips. You also get no recognition for your hard work.

Describe your work schedule?

Up at 5 am to get the gym ready for opening at 6 am.
7.30 am – Free vitality stretch class
8 am – Yoga/Pilates/Spinning class
9 am – Free Class
10 am – Free Seminar
11am – 1 pm Consultations
1 Hour Lunch Break
2 pm – Free Seminar
3 pm – Consultations
4 pm Yoga/Pilates/Spinning class
5 pm – Bootcamp
6 pm -7 pm Consultations

What are your day to day responsibilities?

My main responsibility was to manage the gym, and sort out everything that had to be done in the gym every day, as well as sell and take classes.

What are the terms of your employment?

It was a 9 month full time contract.

When your contract is up, how do you line up more work?

You apply for another contract for another ship done with the employer, which was Steiner

Do you have a career path that can be followed?

Yes, but I will not work on a cruise ship again.

Would you mind giving us a good idea of the typical pay you can expect to earn in this position? Is it a basic salary plus commission/tips?

It is just commission and tips. On my first cruise I made $5, then made between $100-$200 per cruise (which was either a 7 or 9 day cruise)

Is it possible to land this type of job without any direct experience?

No, you have to have a qualification in personal fitness training.

Besides actual ‘on the job’ experience, are there any personal qualities you would need in order to get into this department?

You need to have good communication skills for your seminars and you need to be good at sales. You will be making the majority of your money selling gym classes and packages as well as products.

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Photoprinter Interview