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Local fitness centers feel the burn from the Silverdale YMCA

Clark Milius, of Bremerton, works out at Silverdale Fitness last Friday afternoon. Since the Haselwood Family YMCA opened, he said there have been fewer people to share the gym with.  - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Clark Milius, of Bremerton, works out at Silverdale Fitness last Friday afternoon. Since the Haselwood Family YMCA opened, he said there have been fewer people to share the gym with.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

Clark Milius has been working out at Silverdale Fitness for seven years. Nothing has changed in his regimen but it has for some other members. There are fewer of them around these days.

“It’s like I have my own private gym now,” said Milius.

Local fitness centers are feeling the impact of the recent opening of the Haselwood Family YMCA in Silverdale. Business owners and directors say they have experienced a decrease in gym membership since the YMCA’s opening in June and Silverdale Fitness has altered its business model all together.

Another Silverdale workout facility, Anytime Fitness, closed its doors in late September.

Dave Damon, a partner with Silverdale Fitness, said the impact was to be expected.

“It’s hard to be in a small town like this and anticipate a state-of-the-art fitness center to not have an impact,” Damon said.

The entire year before the YMCA opened, Silverdale Fitness prepared for some changes. Damon, who is also clinic director of next-door Kitsap Physical Therapy in Silverdale, said the physical therapy footprint has been expanded while their fitness center continues to operate. For instance, they’ve started a cardiac rehab program and finished a remodel to have a joint entrance and reception area for both the fitness center and physical therapy office. With the remodel, the physical therapy side of the operation has taken over some fitness center space.

“All these things are a result of the ‘Y’ coming,” said Damon. “But, we’re ready to roll.”

Silvedale Fitness’ new business model is structured so members — like Milius — still have access to a regular fitness center but those who need support for specific medical conditions who want to get into wellness can also be served, Damon said.

Milius, who lives in Bremerton but works in Silverdale, said he checked out the Silverdale YMCA when there was an open house when it first opened. He said because of the higher cost for YMCA membership, he remained at Silverdale Fitness where he works out three times a week. He’s noticed some people have returned to the gym saying that the parking lot at the ‘Y’ is full and the gym is crowded.

Although Damon said that having a new YMCA is great for the community, it is hard to be excited when he’s part of a business impacted by it. Silverdale Fitness membership numbers have decreased by about 50 percent, he said.

“Obviously there are people that want to try the newest, latest, greatest,” said Brian Keen, owner of 1-2-3 Fit in Silverdale.

“We’ve been impacted,” he said.

Membership at Keen’s gym is on a monthly or yearly basis and he said that some members have left since the Silverdale ‘Y’ opened at the beginning of the summer. Some who left have also returned, he said.

“There’s definitely a market for the smaller clubs. The staff know who you are,” said Keen adding that at facility’s such as the YMCA, people are wandering around and don’t know how to use the equipment.

At 1-2-3 Fit, members are able to get a full body workout in a half hour due to the way the gym is set up. Staff will demonstrate the flow of the circuit on the first three visits, or people have the option to do what they want like run on the treadmill for an hour, Keen said.

Central Kitsap fitness centers aren’t alone on being in the shadow of a new YMCA.

When the Gig Harbor Family YMCA opened in August 2007 with a 77,000-square-foot facility, some businesses in the Gig Harbor area also felt its presence.

The Silverdale YMCA is about 85,000-square-feet.

“It’s a pretty significant hit,” said Chris Houchin, director of Gateway Fitness in Gig Harbor.

He compared the impact of a new YMCA to a new Walmart and how it could affect mom and pop stores.

“Unless you have a basketball court, sauna and pool, no other place can compete,” he said.

Most of the members that left Gateway Fitness when the YMCA opened were those who had families, Houchin said. About 20 to 35 percent of the facility’s membership dropped after the ‘Y’ opened in Gig Harbor but he said a steady stream of people are returning.

The Haselwood Family YMCA’s membership is at 16,600 people, exceeding it’s anticipated number of 16,000 by December, said Geoff Ball, executive director of the Haselwood Family YMCA last week.

The facility has seen 70,000 visitors a month, which is one-and-a-half times greater than visit numbers to the YMCA in Puyallup — the largest ‘Y’ with membership at 18,100, Ball added.

“It’s just getting busier, which is great,” Ball said adding that there are 900 children registered for swim programs and that 70 percent of members come to the ‘Y’ to get fit on their own while others participate in fitness classes and programs.

It was expected that 10 percent of members would be provided with financial assistance for memberships and Ball said 12 percent of their membership is on some form of financial aid.

“We don’t turn people away because of their inability to afford fees,” he said.

Keen said 1-2-3 Fit has experienced a net loss because of the opening of the Silverdale YMCA and he isn’t sure if it will continue. But, he noted that it could be worse. Since most people join gyms in the new year, Keen said at least the YMCA didn’t open during the winter.

“In this industry, I’d rather have the impact hit me in the summer when it’s slow,” he said.

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