Almost 25 years ago Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital opened its lifestyles fitness center. The facility provided families, students, singles and seniors a place to work out and stay in shape. But over the past several years, more and more fitness facilities opened in the Dover area, causing Lifestyles membership to drop off.
“As the availability of fitness centers with expanded services and hours have grown over time, membership in Lifestyles experienced a steady decline,” said Pamela Marecki, assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Bayhealth.
Bayhealth officially announced in September that it would be closing its Lifestyles facility on Nov. 16. In order to continue providing service to their members, the healthcare organization has partnered with the Dover YMCA, Marecki said.
“Because of the membership decline, Bayhealth began considering other community options,” she said. “We feel like we found a like-minded community non-profit partner in the Dover YMCA. The staff at the YMCA is great to work with and we are excited to be collaborating with them on future wellness opportunities in the Dover community.”
Lifestyles members will be able to utilize the facilities at the YMCA for two months, free of charge, so that they can feel out the facility, said Susan Herr, executive director for the Dover YMCA.
“[Members] have two months before lifestyles closes in November to come over to the Y and try classes and get a feel for staff,” Herr said. “They can come here for free for two months, after that they can decide if they want to become a member; if so, we will honor their Lifestyles rate for the next couple of months.”
After a transitional period of honoring the Lifestyles rate, members will simply become regular YMCA members if they choose. However, any Lifestyles members who don’t wish to transition into utilizing the YMCA can terminate their current membership and be given a refund.
Bayhealth is also working with members to find them a suitable program if they aren’t interested in joining the YMCA, Marecki said.
One thing that will be a noticeable change in joining the YMCA versus Lifestyles is the price. For an individual senior, it costs $46 per month to be a member at the YMCA versus the $42 per month of Lifestyles.
Senior couples who were paying $63 at Lifestyles will pay $69 a month at the YMCA. It will cost $55 for a regular individual membership at the YMCA versus $48 at lifestyles. Non-senior couples will go from paying $72 at lifestyles to $76 at the YMCA. The Y does offer additional services, such as two indoor and one outdoor pool and a gymnasium, Marecki said.
Some Lifestyles members are not happy with this change and are attempting to save the fitness center. Bonnie Johnson, a lifelong Dover resident, is one of them.
Page 2 of 2 - “The Y is a wonderful facility, but it’s not for me. I don’t think I’ll be playing basketball or volleyball. I have no interest in the gym,” Johnson said. “Look at Lifestyles compared to the Y; at Lifestyles, there are a lot of people in walkers, a lot of people who have had strokes, who are paying for treatment there. Lifestyles has instructors and trainers that come around and stay with you.”
A petition was posted at Lifestyles so that members could sign in support of keeping the facility, Johnson said. Johnson, herself, has also asked to be allowed to submit a letter to the Bayhealth Board of Directors asking that they keep the facility open.
Lifestyle members with specific medical needs will still be served, Marecki said.
“The YMCA offers fitness and aquatic services to help those members who have a specific medical need,” she said. “YMCA staff will be available to work with current Lifestyles staff to develop additional programs and services tailored to support the medical needs of members.”