In 2012 I began as a solo trainer, working out of a dirty warehouse space in Kennebunk, Maine. We were Spurling Training Systems then - working with an athlete population.
In the beginning, I messed up a lot.
I learned a lot.
I changed a lot.
But there was always one constant:
I wanted to create a gym where all of your workouts are with a coach, so you don’t have to worry about what to do, how to do it or whether you’re doing it correctly.
I wanted to create a place where you’ll be held accountable - with coaches (and fellow clients) looking for you at every workout.
For years, people have thought of the gym as a scary, intimidating, and overall, a pretty boring place.
I set out to change that.
In the spring of 2012, we welcomed our first intern from the University of New England, where I’d graduated with a degree in Exercise Science (and where I continue to serve as an adjunct professor).
Josh Williams served as our first intern and is now our Director of Training and Education and oversees the operations of Spurling Fitness.
As we continued to grow we certainly had our ups and downs, defining what model is best for us, who we are right for, and we learned a lot.
Throughout all of this, there has always been an underlying motivation that is two-fold.
My fat loss journey
In 2007, I was preparing to graduate high school and tipped the scales at 386lbs.
I woke up one day and said enough was enough.
Over the course of that summer before attending the University of New England and into my first year at college I was able to lose over 100lbs.
I know first hand how difficult a journey like that can be, and I learned that it's not just the physical stuff that counts, but the mental and emotional side as well.
While attending UNE, I continued to develop my passion for helping people.
Other people may not need to lose 100 pounds but if they wanted to get better, I wanted to help them.
But as I was beginning to develop a picture for my future, my life changed forever.
On a random Saturday in October, I drove home from UNE to have dinner with my parents. I walked into their house and a chill just came across my shoulders. I knew something was up.
I sat down at the dining room table and my mom started crying. After fighting back the tears, she spit out…
"I have cancer."
The next six months were hell. I was trying to wrap up my degree at UNE, head down to Massachusetts to see her in the hospital and do everything I could to help her, my dad and my younger brother.
Talk about another life-changing point in life…
On June 14, 2010, in a hospice house, I held my mom’s hand and watched her take her last breath.
At the age of 52, she had died from stage four lung cancer.
When I opened the doors of the gym, I used my last name as a way to remember my mom. I learned a lot about myself after she died, and I realized just how much she taught me.
So I use my last name on our brands as a way to remember my mom and as a constant reminder that motivates me everyday to build a strong community that changes people’s lives.
As we continued to grow, from a community of athletes to a community that includes both athletes and their parents, we became Spurling Fitness.
We’ve had some amazing success stories, many of which you can see on our website.
Our team expanded to include multiple coaches (thank you Trent, Chris, and Kim). We added a customer experience role (thank you Mel), and we continue to dial in our business model to provide the best experience possible to our clients.
And in 2016, four years into the business, we decided as a staff that we wanted to triple down on what we call our three pillars. The three unique things that we do best.
We believe everyone needs coaching.
That may be how to exercise, correcting technique, or it may be a shoulder to lean on or someone to laugh with.
All of your workouts at Spurling are, and always will be, with a coach. The impact our coaches make every day is incredible. We have a saying here that we call 1% Better.
It's how we approach every client, every journey.
Just a little better than yesterday.
It's how we approach our business, always looking to get better.
It's how we approach our programs, our conversations, and our overall philosophy. It's not about the home run, it's not about crushing you until you puke, it's about being a little bit better than yesterday.
We believe everyone needs to be held accountable, including us.
We have you schedule all of your workouts so that you’ll treat your sessions like an appointment and be less tempted to skip them.
We'll bug you if you don't show, we'll track your progress, and we will hold you accountable to your goals.
When people ask us what our "secret" is, I think this is it.
We want this to be your third place.
It's a place where, hopefully, you want to be.
We’re so much more than a gym. Every client knows every team member and every team member knows each client.
We sweat together, but we also hang out together, socialize, participate in community events together, do volunteer work together, and lean on each other when we need it most.
If you’re looking for a place to workout, we’re not for you.
But if you want a place where you can meet new people, become inspired to become a better version of yourself and be a part of a strong community, then we just might be a great fit for you.
Spurling exists to impact, empower, and change the lives of those who are intimidated by the typical gym environment through strong coaching, relentless accountability, a family-like community, and a desire to get 1% better each and every day.
That vision will never change.
We also recognize that in order to truly change somebody’s life we need to invest a lot of time and effort into them. That means we can’t have thousands of members.
We can't go super deep with every client if we’re constantly adding new members, which is why, in 2017, we decided to cap our membership at 400.
Tribe of 400
At the time of this writing we are on Mission 75, meaning we’re about 75 members away from 400.
400 isn’t an arbitrary number - it’s the number we agreed upon as a staff that we feel will allow us to deliver an exceptional customer experience while avoiding the feeling of a typical health club.
Until we hit our cap of 400, we're hyper focused on giving our current members the best experience possible, while searching for new people who want to be a part of our community.
If you're looking to lose fat, get stronger and have fun while you do it then now is the time to become a part of the Spurling Family.
Spurling Community of Businesses
We are committed to growing the Spurling mission beyond the scope of those we reach with our gym. In 2017 we established the Spurling Foundation, which sponsors the Michelle Spurling Memorial Scholarship given to a graduating Kennebunk High School senior who wishes to pursue a helping career.
The Spurling Foundation also hosts an annual 5K road race which benefits a local non-profit organization. In the past, the foundation has raised money for the Animal Welfare Society, the Food for Thought Backpack Program, and A Place to Start.
The Spurling name is also growing to include what we are calling the Spurling Community of Businesses - we want to reach beyond the fitness industry and find ways to better serve the entire Kennebunk and surrounding communities.