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How the Decatur Family YMCA Drives Engagement with Fitness Programs

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Fitness programming will be a major selling point for your facility — the more engaging and heart-pounding, the better. To keep fitness offerings fresh, it’s important to stay on top of trending fitness programs and carefully evaluate which ones you should add to your class schedule.

The Decatur Family YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, offers a wide variety of programs, scheduling 150 classes a week. And the most popular program, by far, is BODYPUMP by Les Mills.

“We’ll have 36 people in each class and they’re always filled,” said Jan Lauten, the branch’s executive director. “We have 21 classes a week, just for BODYPUMP. And I still have members who say we need more.”

If there was a class any community rec center should look into adding as soon as possible, Lauten believes it would be BODYPUMP. Even with any licensing fees associated with virtual workouts, the engagement this class provides has been well worth it for the Decatur Y.

“Any YMCA should add BODYPUMP,” said Lauten. “BODYPUMP can be for anyone and everyone, and for our members, it’s like a cult.”

Building on the popularity of Group X classes in her branch, Lauten and her team decided to add Move Together, a 30-minute workout from MOSSA that focuses on building strength through fundamental movements.

In the coming months, the Decatur Y will offer a limited number of classes to generate interest and grow the program from there. “We’re slated to start with five Move Together classes per week to begin,” said Lauten.

Move Together will join the ranks of several other group classes on the Decatur Y’s schedule, such as dance-based classes like Zumba and POUND, suspension training through TRX, sports like pickleball, and mind-body programs like yoga and Pilates.

And to better reach its senior population, the Decatur Y has placed a heavy emphasis on its Parkinson’s programming. “We have noticed so many of our seniors now have Parkinson’s,” said Lauten. “So we have several Parkinson’s classes, with chair weights for the senior participants.”

But beyond paying attention to trending fitness programs or popular classes, Lauten has grown her branch’s offerings by listening to her members and seeing which classes resonate the most with them.

“At the Decatur Y, we have a very fit population that really, really likes to workout at a high intensity — they’re maniacs,” joked Lauten. “But on the flip side, we also have a huge senior population. We try to offer something for everyone.”

So when you’re looking at trending fitness programs and deciding which to add, first consider what’s already popular at your facility. Listening to what your members want will be your best guiding light for implementing new programs and elevating your rec center’s engagement.

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Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. He can be reached at bobby@peakemedia.com.

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