Feature Article - June 2017
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A Look at Trends in YMCAs

A majority of Y respondents said that they have construction plans in the works, with 72.1 percent reporting that they would be building over the next few years, up from 63.8 percent in 2016. Well over half (58.2 percent) of Y respondents said they had plans to renovate their existing facilities, and 36.9 percent are planning to make additions at existing facilities. Another 30.3 percent said they have plans for new construction, a big jump from 2016, when only 16.4 percent of Y respondents were planning new construction. (See Figure 59.)

On average, Y respondents are planning to spend $5,170,000 on their construction plans, 20.3 percent more than the average for the general survey population. After their construction budgets fell 22.8 percent from 2015 to 2016, Y respondents have seen those budgets rebound and more, increasing 58.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, from $3,258,000 to $5,170,000.

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

The number of Y respondents who have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years has fallen over the past two years. While 41.2 percent had such plans in 2015, 39.7 percent did in 2016, and in 2017, 39.3 percent of Y respondents said they would be adding features at their facilities.

The most commonly planned additions for Y respondents in 2017 include:

  1. Splash play areas (planned by 37.5 pecent of Y respondents who will be adding features)
  2. Classrooms and meeting rooms (25 percent)
  3. Community centers and multipurpose centers (20.8 percent)
  4. Childcare centers (18.8 percent)
  5. Locker rooms (16.7 percent)
  6. Exercise studios (14.6 percent)
  7. Playgrounds (12.5 percent)
  8. Open spaces such as gardens (12.5 percent)
  9. Climbing walls (12.5 percent)
  10. Indoor aquatic facilities (12.5 percent)

There was an increase in the percentage of respondents who said they would be adding: splash play areas (up from 32.6 percent), classrooms and meeting rooms (up from 15.2 percent), playgrounds (up from 10.9 percent), and exercise studios (up from 8.7 percent). New to the list this year are: community and multipurpose centers, childcare centers, locker rooms, open spaces such as gardens and natural areas, climbing walls and indoor aquatic facilities.


All Y respondents covered by the survey offer programming of some kind at their facilities. The most common programs offered among Y respondents include: day camps and summer camps (offered by 95.1 percent of Y respondents), holidays and other special events (91 percent), fitness programs (90.2 percent), mind-body balance programs like yoga and tai chi (85.2 percent), youth sports teams (84.4 percent), educational programs (82 percent), swimming programs (81.1 percent), aquatic exercise programs (77 percent), personal training (76.2 percent), and programs for active older adults (75.4 percent).

The percentage of Y respondents who said they had plans to add programs at their facilities held relatively steady over the past year. Some 32 percent of Y respondents in 2017 said they have such plans, compared with 32.8 percent in 2016.

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

  1. Teen programs (up from No. 3)
  2. Educational programs (up from No. 8)
  3. Sports tournaments and races (did not appear in 2016)
  4. Adult sports teams (no change)
  5. Performing arts programs (down from No. 1)
  6. Youth sports teams (did not appear in 2016)
  7. Environmental education (down from No. 6)
  8. Sport training such as golf or tennis lessons (did not appear in 2016)
  9. Fitness programs (did not appear in 2016)
  10. Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (down from No. 5)

There is typically a great deal of variation in the top planned programs among Y respondents from one year to the next. In 2017, sports tournaments and races, youth sports teams, sport training, and fitness programs all rose into the top 10, replacing special needs programs, arts and crafts, nutrition and diet counseling, and programs for active older adults.