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Kris Thompson, Argusville, N.D., Published December 23 2013

Letter: Cuts at downtown YMCA disservice to its members

After reading the letter to the editor two weeks ago about the YMCA cutting some of the youth programs and how disappointed the Y member was, I thought I should share my story regarding this organization.

Two years ago, I joined the YMCA downtown for the aqua fitness classes they offered. I had finally found a facility and a great way to get in shape that fit into the busy schedule of a business owner. And to top it off, our instructor made hard work fun. Then a year later, they changed the class from 4:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to accommodate early learning swimming lessons. The class went from a packed 25- to 30-member class down to six to eight participants because the majority of our class were teachers who could not make a 3:30 time slot.

For me, I couldn’t stop my work in the middle of the day. I did write a letter to the Y expressing my concerns, but nothing changed. I finally quit my membership and feel miserable, not only because I need this exercise but after years of diet and exercise that didn’t work, I had found something that did. While staying in touch with fellow swimmers, I have found out that 10 more have quit the Y, most of who have swum together for 18 years or more. (Note: If you look at the aqua schedule now, you’ll see there is nothing in the 4:30 time slot.)

What is really frustrating is I found out the class that replaced us has fewer than five children in some sessions, and the parents, for the most part, are not even Y members. So if you do the math, even at their lowest rate of $540/year for an adult membership, this cost the Y $5,940 for this one session. By changing this successful time slot, how are they making up for that loss with a handful of swim lessons?

Now I hear the new vice president announced to her staff last month that she is cutting out more fitness classes. Budget cuts? Then where did the money come from for recently repainting the walls in studios to look more serene?

The downtown YMCA has historically been the cornerstone of fitness facilities in our community and holds an 18-year history of successes. As the urban sprawl continues and new facilities like the Family Wellness Center and others open or expand, families are moving in that direction. The downtown Y is surviving with its baby boomers. More of these programs should accommodate them, not take away. I don’t know what the aqua director in charge of early learning swimming lessons or the new vice president are thinking when slashing these programs.

In part, the Y’s motto is “Adults connect with friends and learn how to live healthier and building relationships that further our sense of belonging and purpose.” So I ask the YMCA board of directors: How can you keep members loyal to your facility, and at the same time attract new members, when programs/

choices/options are continually being dropped?

As a downtown business owner, I want to see this area thrive and grow. The Y has been, and should continue to be, a major part of the draw to downtown.