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Published September 05, 2013, 08:24 PM

Memberships at Choice, Y don’t sag over summer

When Center Court Fitness was the Grand Forks Park District’s recreation facility, memberships routinely fell by 30 percent during the summer. In contrast, new facility Choice Health & Fitness experienced only a 2 percent drop. And, that dip lasted one month.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

When Center Court Fitness was the Grand Forks Park District’s recreation facility, memberships routinely fell by 30 percent during the summer.

In contrast, new facility Choice Health & Fitness experienced only a 2 percent drop. And, that dip lasted one month.

Since opening in late September 2012, Choice’s members increased every month through June, topping out at 9,190. Then, in July, the south-end facility experienced a loss of 188 members, a decline of about 2 percent.

But, in August, members rebounded to 9,118, with September’s numbers anticipated to top June’s record.

Manager Cam Tweten said there are two big reasons why Choice didn’t suffer the same summertime membership shrinkage as Center Court:

• Choice has air conditioning.

“You can get a good workout and still remain cool,” he said.

• Options available for youth. Center Court was almost exclusively for adults, while Choice offers such youth-oriented options as swimming, basketball, volleyball, tennis and fitness training, resulting in more family memberships.

“It’s a good atmosphere for kids to be active in the summer,” Tweten said. “They can have schedules for when to participate.”

Despite those advantages, he still anticipated a bigger decline in summer memberships because of history. “I thought we’d lose 10 percent,” he said. “What’s happened is a pleasant surprise.”

Renovated Y benefits, too

The membership picture is similar at the Altru Family YMCA, which has a shared membership agreement with Choice. A member of either facility has access to both.

The Y’s monthly member totals in 2013 have been consistent, ranging from 4,053 to 3,837. August’s membership numbered 3,947 for the facility, which underwent a renovation project in 2012.

“This past year has been real consistent,” said Deb Thomson, the Y’s president/CEO. “I think it’s because both facilities are offering a wider variety of classes and other things for people to do.

“There’s momentum now for people to be fit and active. They’ve made connections with the facilities, the staff and other members of the facilities that are helping to keep them motivated on their fitness journey.”

The combined memberships of Choice and Altru Family YMCA represent 21.3 percent of the population of Grand Forks-East Grand Forks. The business plan for Choice’s construction and the Y’s improvements had a goal of reaching that percentage in 2016.

“Fitness is not just a passing trend,” Thompson said.

Nor, apparently, is it seasonal. However, she still anticipates a spike after “people make their New Year’s resolutions and come in shortly after that.”

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