Feature Article - June 2015
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A Look at Trends in YMCAs

The percentage of YMCA respondents who plan to add features to their facilities over the next three years fell slightly from 2014 to 2015. While 43.2 percent had such plans in 2014, this year, some 41.2 percent of YMCA respondents said they would be adding features to their facilities.

The most commonly planned additions for YMCA respondents in 2015 include:

  1. Splash play areas (planned by 30.4 percent of YMCA respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Playgrounds (21.4 percent)
  3. Climbing walls (17.9 percent)
  4. Locker rooms (17.9 percent)
  5. Exercise studios (16.1 percent)
  6. Indoor tracks (16.1 percent)
  7. Classrooms and meeting rooms (14.3 percent)
  8. Indoor aquatic facilities (14.3 percent)
  9. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (12.5 percent)
  10. Fitness centers (12.5 percent)

There was an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they had plans to add: playgrounds (up 2.9 percent); exercise studios (up 1.3 percent); and locker rooms (up 1.2 percent). New features on the list in 2015 that did not appear in 2014 include climbing walls, indoor tracks, fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, and fitness centers. They replace outdoor sports courts, bleachers and seating, waterparks and indoor sport courts.


All YMCA respondents covered by the survey offer programming of some kind at their facilities. The most common programs found among YMCA respondents' facilities include: day camps and summer camps (offered by 86.8 percent of YMCA respondents); fitness programs (83.8 percent); swimming programs (83.8 percent); youth sports teams (82.4 percent); holidays and other special events (81.6 percent); mind-body/balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (77.9 percent); educational programs (73.5 percent); teen programming (72.8 percent); aquatic exercise programs (72.8 percent); and personal training (72.8 percent).

The only change in the programs featured on the top 10 list in 2015 was the addition of teen programming, which replaces programming for active older adults. There was no type of programming that was offered by more YMCA respondents in 2015 than in 2014.

From 2014 to 2015, the number of YMCA respondents who said they plan to add more programs at their facilities over the next three years grew from 36.8 percent to 39.7 percent. YMCA respondents were more likely than others to report that they had plans to add programs. Some 34.2 percent of non-YMCA respondents said they had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned program additions for YMCA respondents include:

  1. Nutrition and diet counseling (up from No. 4)
  2. Mind-body/balance programs such as yoga (up from No. 10)
  3. Adult sports teams (down from No. 1)
  4. Teen programs (up from No. 6)
  5. Fitness programs (did not appear in 2014)
  6. Special needs programs (down from No. 5)
  7. Performing arts programs (up from No. 8)
  8. Individual sports activities such as running clubs (did not appear in 2014)
  9. Sports tournaments and races (did not appear in 2014)
  10. Personal training (did not appear in 2014)

As is generally the case, there was a great deal of change among the top planned programs for YMCA respondents. Fitness programs, individual sports activities, sports tournaments and races, and personal training rose into the top 10, replacing sport-specific training, environmental education, youth sports teams, and daycare or preschool programs.