As stated in the previous article, the Muncie Family YMCA closed its fitness center in the Southway Shopping Center at the end of 2010 while opening a new fitness center in Yorktown earlier that same year. According to newspaper accounts, and recent discussions with several executive board members, the primary reason for closing the south YMCA branch was due to the lack of members attending their facility.They analyzed their business decision for months.
However, one month after the closure, or in December of 2010, several community members were shown YMCA branch reports revealing the south YMCA had over 600 members. Most fitness centers would be happy to have that many members.
Local Gannett reporter Ivy Farguheson interviewed Cathy Clark for her November 10, 2010 article and wrote, “The attendance was declining at the center from 120 to 50 per day…closing the branch was a difficult decision for the board.”
Ms. Farguheson is adept at fitness, and I wonder why she didn’t ask about the age of equipment and the Y’s attempts at attracting more members to use the facility. While visiting the branch the day before the December closure, I asked a YMCA staff member, “Has the YMCA purchased any new equipment for this facility since you worked here?” She said, “No, and it’s pretty old.”
In fact, the equipment provided by the YMCA was the same leased equipment from 2003 when the YMCA took over Midwest Health Strategies physical rehabilitation space. Who knows when it was purchased, but I would guess vintage 1999, or older. From personally being a YMCA member in 2006, it was exactly the same equipment. Not one new piece of equipment was purchased, or leased, by the YMCA in the seven years it operated the facility. Does this communicate a commitment to really help the south side of Muncie improve their health and wellness?
Most industry experts know that offering state of the art equipment is essential for retaining existing members and attracting new ones. How was the new YMCA equipped that opened in Yorktown earlier in 2010 – do you think the YMCA equipped it with old, worn out equipment?
Of course not.
The obvious question would be, “For the same membership dollar, why should members on the south side of Muncie have to exercise with decade old equipment, while members in more affluent areas like Northwest and Yorktown get newer, more expensive equipment?
Providing upgraded equipment, offering child watch services, and programming in the south location might have made a positive impact on the surrounding community and aligned better with the YMCA’s mission – “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”
To conclude Part 2 of the YMCA – Profit, or Non-Profit?, let’s share the Y’s core values as written on their website, and posted in their branches: