By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board wants local residents to be healthy – but the board also has to worry about the health of the park and recreation budget.
So last week, the board voted to raise prices of fitness classes at the community center in the fall. The board agreed to stop short of larger fee increases considered earlier in the year.
The classes are provided through MindBody, and brought in $30,618 last year. However, the classes cost $44,447 to offer.
“Our mission is to get people healthy and fit, so we do operate a little differently from a private club or fitness studio – some subsidy of classes is not a bad thing, but we need to keep it balanced,” Kristin Otley, park and recreation director, said in her report to the board.
Following is the list of current and proposed rates approved by the board:
- Drop-in rate will remain unchanged at $8.
- Monthly rate will increase from $40 to $44.
- Quarterly rate will go from $105 to $117.
- Annual rate will increase from $360 to $396.
This will be the first time the rates have changed since the community center switched to the MindBody program in the summer of 2015.
The park and recreation department will also start a couple promotions to encourage those with MindBody fitness passes to get a community center pass, and to urge those with center passes to try out MindBody classes. Those signing up for a community center pass would receive a coupon for a free month of MindBody. Those purchasing an annual MindBody pass would be given $40 off a center pass.
The rate increases should bring in an additional $2,716 annually. The higher rates initially proposed would have generated $4,458 more annually, but concerns were expressed about losing participants due to the increases.
Otley reminded the board that while the community center rates should be less than other fitness businesses in the city, the rates need to be closer to covering costs. She also explained that the adult programs at the community center always subsidize the youth programs.
Board president Jeff Crawford suggested that the board look at small increases annually in fitness class fees, to avoid any large increases.
Otley also explained the positive changes since the community center switched to the MindBody program. Now participants can buy a monthly pass and take as many, and as many different kinds of classes they would like – such as aerobics, spinning, zumba, yoga or pilates. Prior to that change, participants had to pick a certain class to sign up for and could only attend that class.
“They are getting a lot for their money,” Otley said. “They may like to try something that they don’t want to sign up for for eight weeks.”
Class participants don’t need to be center passholders, and they can sign up over the phone.
“We’ve eliminated any barriers to make it as easy as possible for them to take classes,” Otley said.
Attendance has “skyrocketed” since the switch two years ago, she said.
In 2015, a total of 511 classes were offered, 204 MindBody passes were purchased, and 2,773 total class participants were counted. In 2016, a total of 1,127 classes were offered, 293 MindBody passes were purchased, and 7,570 class participants were recorded.
But Otley said there is room for more.
“I think we need to do a better job of letting people know how great this is,” Otley said. “It’s good for your health and your wallet.”