Worthington News

Evolving with fitness trends

Worthington Community Center marks 10 years


When the addition to the Worthington Community Center opened 10 years ago, so many people signed up for memberships that some were put on a waiting list.

Today, numbers are down, but that is difficult to imagine on a busy afternoon, when people heading for the fitness center, pools, gym, classes and parties all seem to converge in the lobby.

"There's something going on all day, every day," said Melissa Hindman, marketing and outreach director for the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department.

The center, at 345 E. Wilson Bridge Road, has been celebrating its 10th anniversary for the past month, featuring parties, raffles, free snacks and T-shirts for original members.

The original community center opened in the 1970s, but the fitness and aquatics center opened in February 2003.

Besides a floor with modern fitness equipment and a track, the addition includes both a fun pool and a lap pool, fitness rooms, a "fish bowl" room for parties, a game room, a large lobby and lounge and offices. Most popular are the fitness center and pools, but classes, family nights, parties and special events also keep the center busy.

Over the decade, changes have reflected the evolution in fitness trends nationwide. Fewer aerobics classes are held now, but more spinning, Zumba and boot camp classes are offered, Hindman said. Adult leagues in softball, basketball and volleyball also have grown in popularity, and all activities for ages 55 and older really have taken off in recent years, she said.

Teenagers also have taken to the center and attend on snow days and after school, working out side by side with people old enough to be their grandparents.

Actual memberships have dropped from approximately 7,000 during the first months of operation to approximately 4,000. Actual use might not have dropped so dramatically, as the center now sells monthly and day passes, which seem to be popular, parks and recreation director Darren Hurley said.

"People are not willing to make a commitment for a year but are willing to pay more for a monthly pass or a day pass," he said.

Corporate memberships are increasing. Companies, many of which are seeking ways to encourage healthy living among employees, could purchase memberships at lower rates.

Most recently, the department completed a deal with the Worthington City Schools to provide bulk-rate memberships to employees.

All changes -- from classes to shorter-term memberships -- are instituted in response to member requests, Hurley said. Plans are being finalized to distribute a member survey to see what the community wants next.

Peggy Foster is a 10-year member who said she wouldn't change a thing. She works out at the center three times a week, she said, and believes it offers the best facilities, staff and equipment in town.

"I am totally pleased," she said. "I looked at other facilities, and they didn't offer everything they offer here."