One last thought about professionalism. Although a health club has a much different feel than a formal office building, that doesn't mean all manners should be thrown out the window. Granted, our patrons are mostly sweaty and out of breath, but they still deserve good customer service, attention to detail and some common decency.

Handling difficult situations (there's another leak in the locker room?) with ease isn't always an inherent skill, but it's one that our industry must cultivate or at least feign. And, when it comes to any sort of service in the club, it's best to mind your manners, even when you think no one is watching. Chances are you weren't the only one who saw your front desk staff member slurp down the leftovers from a protein shake he just made for a member. And, that's just one example.

One club I belonged to had virtually no manners at all. Rudeness was the name of the game, and this was beyond the rudeness experienced at restaurants or stores when you can't get seated or waited on. This was I'm-too-busy-reading-my-gossip-magazine-to-even-notice-your-existence rudeness. Need a towel? Fat chance. Have a question? Might as well ask a fellow member. Want to take your business elsewhere? Fine. Needless to say that club didn't last long. Although the club was beautiful with the latest equipment, its I-don't-care attitude closed its doors.

Another facility had good customer service, but it needed the help of Miss Manners desperately. Although personal trainers were always on hand to answer questions and the front desk staff was attentive, employees weren't always on their best behavior. Personal conversations between staff members were as entertaining as a soap opera, yet I doubt that discussing these personal dramas in the weight room was the best way to retain members.

At the same facility, I routinely witnessed a staff member scarf down her greasy, fast-food dinner at the front desk while swiping membership cards. I'm not sure which was more unprofessional — the fact that she was eating and handling our membership cards (with her elbows on the table, too!) or that she was eating burgers and fries while I was trying to burn off Friday night's one-too-many slice of pizza. I'll give her this though: no one could say that she wasn't attentive.

Although I'd prefer it grease-free, paying attention is an important manner for all health club staff members to have. Good employees notice details like members' names, ongoing issues at the club as well as the cleanliness of the bathroom. No one in their right mind enjoys cleaning toilets, but it's a necessity, and when your patrons start to complain, you better take action. Instead of cleaning the bathroom a few times a day (like most busy clubs have to do), one club I visited refused to scrub the toilets and restock the toiletries more than once a day. With 200 to 300 people walking through their doors daily, the bathroom screamed for more attention, but sadly never got it. Members complained, yet management let the problem continue, eventually losing patrons to another cleaner club that opened across town. Now, where's the ettiquette in that?

So, the moral to the story is that manners don't just count when it comes to writing thank-you notes or choosing the right fork to eat your salad with at a fancy restaurant. Your members appreciate and expect more — they deserve a professional club. Keep minding those manners, and you never know how far it might take your club.