Vacation for Gym/Business Owners: The Great White Buffalo

Courtney Shoemaker on the Cliffs of Moher.

I recently got back from a kickass two-week vacation to Thailand and Vietnam with some friends. This was my third international trip of 2019, which is quite a bit more traveling than I had done in years past as a business owner.  My intention going into 2019 was to make this the #yearofadventure, and it certainly was. 


Great question.  The short answer is a great staff paired with a lot of planning and organization of your business. I am still working on dialing a lot of things in to be able to continue to travel in future years since it is something that is very important to me; it’s how I recharge and reenergize.   

This is the first year since opening our business in 2015 that I’ve been able to actually take some time to step away for more than a long weekend here and there, so if it is Year One or Year Two for your business, taking four weeks away in a year may not be realistic yet. However, if it is your goal then you can absolutely work toward it, but it does take some work. 


I planned these trips months – some as much as a year – in advance and blocked that time on my calendar and made sure my classes were covered far in advance. I also made checklists one to two months early to start working toward social media schedules, blogs, accounting/payroll, and other projects and back end things that would need to be done while I was out, so I wasn’t scrambling the week before and after to cover.  

Organizing Your Business: A.K.A. Just Write the Damn SOPs 

Having your business run like a business is crucial if you want to be able to step away and take a break. For us, this means getting our processes, A.K.A. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), documented and then training your staff on those processes. For years I fought the idea of doing this. I had worked for 10 years in corporate America and was simply burnt out on making these types of documents, so just didn’t want to be reminded of those times.  

After a few years of getting the same questions asked repeatedly and ‘just taking care of it,’ we finally decided it was time to actually write out our SOPs. Once we had a process documented, we then trained the staff on it so they knew how it’s done and could reference the process next time that question came up. 

Yes, it takes more time the first go around, but then if done correctly, it removes or at least great reduces those questions.  If your staff does not know how to do something, that is 100% on you, not them. Each week we get our staff together for training, and if there are any new SOPs written, we review them during that meeting so everyone is up to speed.   

Where do You Even Begin a Project Like That? 

One SOP at a time. We made a simple Google Doc database and started chipping away at them as we had time or as questions came up.  Now, if someone isn’t sure how to run a sales meeting, how to enter a member in our software or doesn’t know how to close up the gym, we either guide them to the SOP, or if it is missing or needs an update, we create it or update it and retrain. Like with most things, just get a document started. The next time a Coach asks you how to do something at your gym, take the extra 10 minutes to document it, then find time to train them. Writing SOPs and not showing them to anyone is just a waste of time, both things need to happen. 

Pro-Tip: If a Coach or staff member doesn’t know how something is done, odds are none of your Coaches do, or they are all doing their own version of that task. This means it’s time to document and standardize. 


Maybe you aren’t looking to do any travel, but would like to be able to spend a week away over the holidays, or long weekends at the lake, or even save up for a new car. No matter what your priorities are, you will need to set goals and make a plan to get there. So I ask you, what is your goal for 2020? We still have plenty of time to crush the rest of the year and set ourselves up to take that trip in 2020. 

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Courtney Shoemaker then slowly migrated over the years to Fargo, North Dakota. She spent most of her adult life working in corporate America, and finally took the leap to leave for a new career in CrossFit. Outside of the gym she also spends time skydiving or doing yoga. CrossFit Icehouse was established in 2015 in Fargo, North Dakota, with the goal of “Building Everyday Athletes.” CrossFit Icehouse is a “You First” fitness environment. It builds relationships and create healthy habits through fitness to allow you to become the best version of yourself. Reach her at