Feature Article - June 2019
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A Look at Trends in YMCAs

Looking forward, Y respondents are more optimistic, with 58.8 percent expecting an increase and 5.9 percent projecting a decrease in 2019, and 58.5 percent anticipating increasing usage and 3 percent expecting a decrease in 2020.

Y respondents are among those most likely to report that they have plans for construction over the next three years. Some 74 percent of Y respondents said they have such plans, up from 64.2 percent in 2018. Nearly one-quarter (24.7 percent) said they will be building new facilities. Another 39.7 percent are planning to make additions to their existing facilities, and more than half (53.4 percent) are planning renovations. (See Figure 57.)

On average, Y respondents are planning to spend $5,210,000 on their construction plans. This represents a substantial 38.6 percent increase from 2018, when the average was $3,760,000. However, it is a mere 0.8 percent more than the average planned in 2017, $5,170,000.

The 10 features most commonly found in Y respondents' facilities in 2019 include: exercise studio rooms; fitness centers; locker rooms; indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; classrooms and meeting rooms; Wi-Fi services; indoor aquatic facilities; childcare centers; playgrounds; and bleachers and seating.

The number of Y respondents who have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years increased from 32.1 percent in 2018 to 42.5 percent in 2019.

The most commonly planned additions for Y respondents in 2019 include: community centers or multipurpose facilities; splash play areas; bleachers and seating; open spaces such as gardens and natural areas; playgrounds; fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment; park shelters such as gazebos or picnic shelters; community gardens; locker rooms; and outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis.


As usual, all Y respondents covered by the survey said they offer programming of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 96.7 percent of non-Y respondents.

The most common programs found in Y respondents' facilities in 2019 include: day camps and summer camps (provided by 93.2 percent of Y respondents); fitness programs (89 percent); holidays and other special events (87.7 percent); group exercise programs (86.3 percent); youth sports teams (83.6 percent); mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (83.6 percent); programs for active older adults (78.1 percent); personal training (78.1 percent); educational programs (75.3 percent); and aquatic exercise programs (75.3 percent).

Programs that saw an increase in the percentage of Ys offering them from 2018 to 2019 include: personal training (up from 75.3 percent); aquatic exercise (up from 74.1 percent); and

programs for active older adults (up from 71.6 percent).

The number of Y respondents who said they have plans to add programs at their facilities increased from 32.1 percent in 2018 to 37 percent in 2019. This compares with 31.1 percent of non-Y respondents who have plans to add programs.

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

  1. Teen programs (no change from 2018)
  2. Special needs programs (no change from 2018)
  3. Individual sports activities like swim clubs or running clubs (up from No. 4)
  4. Performing arts programs (did not appear in 2018)
  5. Environmental education programs (did not appear in 2018)
  6. Sports tournaments and races (did not appear in 2018)
  7. Sport-specific training such as golf or tennis lessons (up from No. 9)
  8. Nutrition and diet counseling (down from No. 6)
  9. Educational programs (down from No. 7)
  10. Arts and crafts (down from No. 8)

As is often the case, there is a lot of variation in the top planned programs for Ys from year to year. In 2019, performing arts programs, environmental education, and sports tournaments and races all rose into the top 10, replacing adult sports teams, youth sports teams and swimming programs.