The Story of Travel Travel
Scenes from the video
Fun&FitnessTravelClub takes first cruise 1n 1998.


Barb Batson, Cynthia Neu McCluskey, Jim Seeley (L to R)

Fun&FitnessTravelClub was born out of pure luck. It began in 1998 when Cynthia Neu McCluskey was taking Jim Seeley's (both top center) water aerobics class in McLean, VA at the Fairfax County Spring Hill RECreation Center. The whole class was disappointed to learn their center was closing that August for maintenance. Cynthia, who'd never cruised, did know if enough friends formed a group they could all cruise together with one person in the group allowed to go free. She thought it would be great fun to invite all her classmates in Jim's class to go on a cruise together when the pool closed so they could continue exercising through the summer. The students loved her idea! And Jim agreed to go along too as their Cruise Fitness Host. For his FREE cruise he agreed to teach water aerobics in the ship's heated pool every morning. Jim and Cynthia were excited about taking a summer cruise with all their classmates. Little did they know what was about to happen.

Their fitness cruise that summer in 1998 was a HUGE success! In fact, immediately upon returning from the Caribbean Islands water aerobics students from other recreation centers in Fairfax County called Cynthia upset because they had not been invited to go on the cruise. When Jim learned about the calls he insisted they organize another cruise so as not to hurt the feelings of any of his students. After they organized a second cruise still more water exercise students around Virginia were calling Cynthia asking for fitness cruises. Cynthia's media background instinctively told her other water aerobics instructors across America certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) would have the same results if they too offered their students fitness cruises. So she and Jim decided to share their idea in AEA's trade magazine 'AKWA.' "You Too Can Cruise Free with Pay and Benefits!," said the headline. CALL 800-955-9942. They wrote their story and published it with photos. One Hundred Fifty (150) phone calls came in as a result of that first article in 'AKWA' 22 years ago. Today thousands of club members and hundreds of fitness certified instructors cruise regularly with the award winningFun&FitnessTravelClub based in McLean, VA. It is a suberb of Washington, D.C. While reading 'AKWA' over many months following their first cruise Cynthia kept seeing creative, informative articles about the benefits of doing daily water aerobics written by Barb Batson. Cynthia called Barb in Nashville to ask if she would work with their newly formed travel club. The rest is history. Barb is recognized throughout the aquatics industry and even holds the prestigious AEA Lifetime Achievement Award. Barb is National Cruise Fitness Host recruiter for the Fun&FitnessTravelClub and is its new Program Director. Cynthia says, "All of us who created this club together, especially our hometown water aerobics instructors, are living proof free enterprise is alive and well in America. We love to say it: 'Welcome Aboard!' "

Cynthia Neu McCluskey is Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub. She is a former newspaper and television reporter, TV news anchor and bureau chief based in El Paso, TX; Washington, DC; and Moscow, Russia for 33 years prior to creating this new concept for water aerobics fitness cruises.

Cynthia reported for the El Paso Times newspaper 10 years. She also wrote radio editorials for Fred Hervey in El Paso during the '70s and 80s. Fred Hervey was founder and creator of the Circle K Corporation and business mentor to Cynthia for many years. By the late 1980s, before CNN existed, Cynthia and El Paso NBC TV News anchor Peter Heinlein established a television news bureau in Washington, D.C. to send satellite news reports back to TV stations out West covering issues important to America's western population. Cynthia was a Texas CBS TV affiliate News anchor who realized New York City and Washington, D.C. Network News anchors and reporters had no idea what was important to Americans living out west. Soon she and Peter resigned from their TV anchor positions in Texas to partner with Fred Hervey in creating Sun World Satellite TV News based in Washington, D.C. Within 10 years their independently owned and operated TV news bureau on Capitol Hill broadcast daily reports via satellite to 365 ABC, NBC and CBS TV affiliates across the South and Western parts of of America. Peter Heinlein later joined Voice Of America. By 1990 Cynthia was on her way to the Soviet Union to open a second TV News bureau in Moscow as a result of President Reagan's "People To People" exchange coordinated with then Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. Her bureau sent back to America's CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates reports explaining how Soviet actions were affecting their cities too in the USA, not just Washington, D.C. Oil, natural gas, agriculture and military concerns were major news stories affecting communities both in the USA and Russia then, just as they do today. The Soviet government permitted Cynthia to report from Moscow because Fred Hervey's Sun World Corporation agreed to print in English, and distribute in the USA, the first ever free speech Soviet newspaper. This brave, brand new weekly newspaper published in Moscow was named Nezavisimaya Gazeta which means in English the Independent Newspaper. It advocated Russia be an independent Democratic country allowing free press, free speech and free enterprise for all citizens.

The newspaper became world famous in August 1991 as, "The first media ever to rally Russians to bring down Communism," so reported the Wall Street Journal Aug. 21, 1991 on its front page. Those 26 inches of news described the "late night heroic deeds led by Russia's only Independent Newspaper." When military tanks rolled into Moscow after midnight Aug. 19, 1991, determined to destroy any free press in Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta was the only media working courageously to print and distribute itself throughout the city until dawn calling for Russians to stand up and defeat Communism. It is still today published in Moscow as a weekly newspaper. When working with Russians in Moscow, trying to help them develop advertising, Cynthia learned about the cruise industry. It was when 600 factory workers from the oil company Gas Prom in Siberia asked (insisted) Cynthia book cruises for them. She agreed to organize their cruises, if they agreed to advertise. They agreed even knowing Cynthia herself had never cruised! Completing her newspaper assignment in Moscow, and after sending 600 Russians on cruises over a 4 year period, Cynthia returned to the USA, where she met Jim Seeley. He was a travel agent working part time teaching water aerobics at Spring Hill RECenter where she attended classes. When Cynthia told Jim about how she had previously organized cruises for Russians and thought she could organize one for his class they agreed to work together offering a water aerobics cruise to Jim's students. They named their idea the Fun&FitnessTravelClub." Jim taught me about water aerobics and how travel agencies work," says Cynthia. "And I showed him how we could promote fitness cruises using the media. On our first cruise we had 13 guests who brought another 10 of their friends. Today we have 6000 club member nationwide who cruise with us regularly. Every time another cruise ship sails away with our club members on board doing water aerobics Jim and I just look at each other and say, "We are the absolute luckiest people in the world!"

Cynthia is a 1975 graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso where she attended on journalism scholarships and grants. She was married to the late Ron McCluskey, an El Paso labor lawyer, who also served as Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. to the late Democratic Congresswoman Gladys Noon Spellman of Maryland. Cynthia and Ron's son, Patrick McCluskey, lives in Austin, TX with his wife Shannon and their three children: Bryan, Grace and Paula. Ron McCluskey was Commander of the American Legion in Texas in 1991-92.

Shortly after creating the Fun&FitnessTravelClub Cynthia became certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association of America (AEA). She is also certified by the Arthritis Foundation and is a Red Cross Certified Water Safety Instructor who teaches adults and pre-school children how to swim at Spring Hill, Wakefield and South Run RECenters within the Fairfax County Park Authority. FCPA is considered a top Park Authority nationwide. Fun&FitnessTravelClub is repeatedly named by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines as a top sales agency in the Mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. In both 2008 and 2013 Cynthia was named Top Aquatics Instructor at Spring Hill RECenter. In 2011 and 2012 she and Jim were honored by Royal Caribbean for increasing their agency's cruise sales by 214% in one year!

 

Jim Seeley is Co-Founder and former Program Director of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub. He is also a certified water fitness instructor and pool guard trainer in Fairfax County, VA where he's been employed more than 22 years. He specializes in water aerobics, yoga and Tai chi. Jim's been certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), Aerobics Fitness Association of America (AFAA), Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), American Aerobics Association International (AAAI), the Arthritis Foundation and the American Red Cross. He's taught various fitness classes at nine Fairfax County Recreation Centers in Virginia.

"My exercise philosophy comes from a song I heard as a child," says Jim. " 'A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.' We've been blessed with club members who agree with this philosophy. We strive to make all our fitness cruises fun! With the travel club growing leaps and bounds we've added more fun activities.....like ball room dancing, yoga and Zumba."

As former Program Director for Fun&Fitness, Jim would oversee certified water exercise instructors who qualified to host their hometown students on fitness cruises. Today Barb Batson of Nashville is the club's new Program Director and Cruise Fitness Host Recruiter. Jim has branched out to lead VIP CRUISES and TOURS (VIP) featuring TV Stars who cruise with their fans. One such TV Star is Joe Kenda on Discovery Channel's Homicide Hunter TV Shows.

TheFun&FitnessTravelClub is a registered trade mark with near 6000 club members nationwide. As the travel club grew and gained in popularity, so did Jim. For 5 years he's actively promoted the Ms. Virginia Senior America Pageant serving as its Master of Ceremonies. "Incredible," is how Jim describes the pageant's participants. "Marvelous," he says. "The most beautiful thing about all the candidates is how they smile. And I love a woman who smiles."

Jim is a 1986 graduate of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He is fluent in Spanish, having worked 7 years in customer service for American Airlines in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Miami. Jim is single, but keeps very busy with his parents, 10 brothers and sisters and all their families. In 2005 he began producing and hosting a new TV show he created for Cox Cable TV in Fairfax County. His bi-weekly TV show was 'Forever Young.' Frequent guests on his show were members of the Fun&FitnessTravelClub, as well as other popular retirees in the Washington, DC metro area, who promote good health and social activities for active seniors. His TV show was a top rated program in both Fairfax and Arlington Counties of Virginia and in Montgomery County of Maryland. But as his work developed more at the Discovery Channel Jim had to back away from public broadcasting.

During the past 22 years, while escorting fitness cruises, Jim became an expert on the design and history of cruise ships. He shares his knowledge with guests by taking them on walking tours on each ship the first day of a new cruise. "This makes it easier for guests to find their way around the ship," he says. "No other travel agency adds this touch. It's part of our promise to take you on a cruise with us and not just send you away by yourself."

Jim and Cynthia Neu McCluskey are Co-Founders of Ventures in Travel, (DBA) the Fun&FitnessTravelClub. Ventures in Travel is a subsidiary of Ventures in Video, Inc., in Falls Church, VA where the company has been in business more than 40 years. It is owned and operated by Michael Williams of Mc Lean, VA. The club's Cruise Fitness Host Recruiter and new Program Director is Barb Batson of Nashville, TN. Webmaster is Evan Hambrick of Sterling, VA.

Fairfax County Park Authority, where both Jim and Cynthia teach water exercise classes, was named Best Park Authority in the nation in 2006. Their travel agency has since been named by Royal Caribbean as its #1 Business Partner in the mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. The award winning Fun&FitnessTravelClub was given this honor above 104 other travel agencies on the East Coast. In 2011 and 2012 the travel club was honored again by Royal Caribbean for its outstanding sales record on the East Coast increasing cruise sales more than 214% in one year.

"Our cruise business is successful because our travel concept is clever, our destinations are popular, our prices are competitive, our service is superior and our cruise lines are exceptional. We can say all this with total confidence adding on the superior skills and popularity of our hometown Fitness Hosts who invite their favorite students to cruise with us. Most of all we are proud to say when our club members return home from one of our cruises they look tanned, toned and refreshed. The success of our travel club is reflected in the nearly 100% return of our cruise participants. Whenever you cruise with Fun&Fitness you go home looking like a million without spending it."

Jim adds, "In our travel club we have no dues, no membership fees and no meetings. We're a very popular club! We cruise at senior, group discounted rates. And when you cancel at least 100 days before departure you receive a 100% full refund, with no insurance required and no questions asked. This is yet another reason why we've been in business more than 20 years and look forward to the next 20!"

 

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This page last updated: April 28, 2019