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Learning from your peers is important, especially at the start of a new year, when it’s time to improve member engagement initiatives, revamp fitness programs or give an area in your facility a new look.

In the spirit of learning from the experiences of others, the following are the best pieces of advice from each subject of the Ask the Expert column in 2019. From these pieces of advice, we hope you can glean new insights and find inspiration:


March/April issue: Robyn Talesnik, community wellness coordinator, JCC of Greater Baltimore and LifeBridge Health

Topic: community wellness

“Ultimately, the goal is to connect with our community members and assist them in becoming their healthiest selves. Accessibility, a familiar friendly face, lending an ear and offering an array of options are all helping to accomplish our goal.”

Read the full story here.


May/June issue: Audrey Edwards, health, fitness and wellness director, JCC of Greater Boston

Topic: renovation projects

“If you have the opportunity to bring functional training to the fitness floor, I’d recommend doing so, because our members are already doing it. It needs to be available and on your fitness floor. We have to start thinking about tomorrow, and this is tomorrow.”

Read the full story here.


July/August issue: Courtney Harrness, senior executive director, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

Topic: summer youth programming

“Honestly, in this age of tech and instant access to everything, social media provides a disguise of young people not feeling lonely. But the reality is they’re alone in the summer and have free time. So we’re seeing a lot of folks across the industry jump on board with free access and an invitation for young people to come find a caring adult, access programs and services, and make friends all summer long through the Y.”

Read the full story here.


September/October issue: Adam Shilling, executive director of membership and program, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids

Topic: member retention

“Helping members feel welcomed is the area in which staff plays the biggest role. So they get to know the members personally. Remembering and using names is important, but I think it’s more important to remember details about what’s happening in their lives — it requires us to know the specific details that make people unique.”

Read the full story here.


November/December issue: Daniel O’Connor, association director of health and wellness programs, YMCA of South Hampton Roads

Topic: programming

“Know your consumer [when integrating new programs], and have a strategic plan with specific goals and expectations. It’s also important to have an energized, excited team around you that can push your vision to the members.”

Read the full story here.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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