Feature Article - June 2016
Find a printable version here


A Look at Trends in YMCAs

The majority of YMCA respondents said that they have construction plans in the works, with 63.8 percent reporting that they would be building over the next several years. Some 45.7 percent said they have plans to renovate their existing facilities, and 31 percent will be making additions at those facilities. Another 16.4 percent said they have plans for new construction. (See Figure 59.)

On average, YMCA respondents are planning to spend $3,258,000 on their construction plans, 7.4 percent less than the average for the general survey population. This represents a 22.8 percent decrease from the construction budgets reported by YMCA respondents in 2015, of $4,024,000.

There was very little change to the features most commonly included in YMCA respondents' facilities. The 10 most common features include: locker rooms, fitness centers, exercise studios, Wi-Fi services, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, childcare centers, classrooms and meeting rooms, indoor aquatic facilities, playgrounds, and bleachers and seating.

The number of YMCA respondents who have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years fell slightly in 2016, from 41.2 percent in 2015 to 39.7 percent who have such plans this year.

The most commonly planned additions for YMCA respondents in 2016 include:

  1. Splash play areas (planned by 32.6 percent of YMCA respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Classrooms and meeting rooms (15.2 percent)
  3. Indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball (15.2 percent)
  4. Indoor running or walking tracks (15.2 percent)
  5. Fitness trails or outdoor fitness equipment (13 percent)
  6. Playgrounds (10.9 percent)
  7. Community gardens (10.9 percent)
  8. Concessions (10.9 percent)
  9. Fitness centers (8.7 percent)
  10. Exercise studios (8.7 percent)

There was an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they would be adding: splash play areas (up 2.2 percent); classrooms and meeting rooms (up 0.9 percent); and fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (up 0.5 percent). New to the list this year are indoor courts, indoor tracks, community gardens, and concessions. They replace climbing walls, locker rooms, indoor aquatic facilities and fitness centers.


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: fitness programs (offered by 89.7 percent of YMCA respondents); youth sports teams (89.7 percent); day camps and summer camps (87.1 percent); holidays and other special events (86.2 percent); mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (85.3 percent); personal training (84.5 percent); swimming programs (81 percent); active older adult programming (80.2 percent); aquatic exercise programs (79.3 percent); and educational programs (75 percent).

The percentage of YMCA respondents who said they had plans to add programs at their facilities fell in the past year, from 39.7 percent in 2015 to 32.8 percent in 2016. They were still more likely than others to have such plans, with 30.9 percent of non-YMCA respondents indicating they would be adding programs at their facilities.

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

  1. Performing arts programs (up from No. 7)
  2. Special needs programs (up from No. 6)
  3. Teen programs (up from No. 4)
  4. Adult sports teams (down from No. 3)
  5. Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (up from No. 8)
  6. Environmental education (did not appear in 2015)
  7. Arts and crafts (did not appear in 2015)
  8. Educational programs (did not appear in 2015)
  9. Nutrition and diet counseling (down from No. 1)
  10. Active older adult programs (did not appear in 2015)

As is generally the case, there was a great deal of change among the top planned programs for YMCA respondents. Environmental education, arts and crafts, educational programs, nutrition and diet counseling, and active older adult programs rose into the top 10, replacing mind-body balance programs, fitness programs, sports tournaments and races, and personal training.