Tell the UP Board of Supervisors NOT to close the Upper Providence Fitness Center

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The Upper Providence Township Board of Supervisors has announced the decision to close the UP Fitness Center effective December 31, 2018.  In addition, babysitting hours of operation have been minimized to 4 hours per week (Mon & Tues 9-11am only) and the Silver Sneakers and Silver & Fit classes and activities will continue with a new program in 2019 even though the Township will not be reimbursed as is the past thereby making this a free service to the senior citizens and reaping no financial benefit for the Recreation Center.

The Fitness Center, opened for 7 years, has been a staple in the community of Upper Providence.  The nearly 800 members of the Center utilize the exercise facility on a regular basis.  It is like a small family feeling in the Fitness Center.  Citizens of the community come to meet, chat, workout and improve their lives and health.  Many of the members are extremely disappointed in this decision and feel that their voices are not being heard.  In fact, their voices have never been heard by the management of the facility or the Board of Supervisors.  Below is a point by point rebuttal to the announcement.

1.  An evaluation determined that due to the growth and changing landscape, along with the notable abundance of other fitness providers in the area, a new path forward is being charted.  Yes - there are approximately 12 other gyms in the area ranging in cost from $19.99/month (+ 49.99 sign up fee and no childcare) to $150/month with no childcare.  None of these "competitors" are family friendly and do not replicate what the Fitness Center offers.  In addition, most are cost prohibitive to families and older citizens of Upper Providence Township.

2.  Hours of operation have been amended to 8am-8pm weekdays.  This change was implemented as a result of the early morning fitness attendant at the facility deciding to leave after 6+ years of continued employment when the new management was hired.  When the current manager decided to "get control of the staff" and change everyone's hours, discontent permeated through the staff.  Some staff members hours were cut in half, while others were given more hours.  It appears that this decision was based on the current manager's personal feelings toward the particular staff member.  The long-term staff member worked the 6am-12 or 2pm shift 3-5 days per week and was loved by the clients.  In fact, the clients still speak about this staff member and wish he would return.  No one else wanted to work that early shift, which is what resulted in the change of hours for the membership. This is an example of one of many poor decisions made by the current manager.

3.  Fitness classes and personal training sessions will continue to be scheduled. Even though enjoyed by those who utilize these services, classes and personal training are most likely the least lucrative of anything offered by the Recreation Center.  Clients are not surveyed to ask what classes they would be interested in; classes are simply put on the schedule and cancelled when the management doesn't feel enough members have signed up.  Additionally, members have to pay more money to take these classes.  The drop in sessions are typically full because they are free (like the Silver Sneakers classes) however signs up are mediocre at best.

4. The 2019 Silver Sneakers remake will not be profitable at all for the Township as now that there is no Fitness Center there will be no reimbursement by health care providers.  If the Silver Sneakers crowd has to pay for these classes, we are certain that the sign ups will drop considerably.

5. In order to make additional program space available, the Fitness Center area is being closed.  We don't feel that additional programming is needed at the cost of losing the Fitness Center.  Even though there are less than 800 members, this is an important Center for the health of those who participate.  In addition, this Fitness Center, and the Recreation Center as a whole, have not been marketed properly or at all.  If citizens of UP Township knew about this hidden gem, there would be many more people taking advantage of this amazing Center.  It is important to help keep our citizens healthy through fitness.  Classes, activities and education are only a small part of that.  We were told that marketing was not done because the facility can't hold any more people.  We emphatically disagree.  There is plenty of room in that building that is underutilized that can be reconfigured.  The Board needs to think outside the box!

6.  The members have noticed and discussed at length the total mismanagement of the Fitness Center and Recreation Center.  To begin, the former manager was unskilled at managing the facility and the staff.  Her negative and hostile attitude was not only displayed towards the staff but also the clients.  We all witnessed staff members being degraded in the halls and heard yelling on a regular basis.  Clients were argued with or told to leave when they asked a question or the police were called at her whim. In addition, no feedback was ever taken into consideration when given or even requested by management.  The membership were happy to see a change however the change was not an improvement.  The new management stayed in her newly painted and decorated office, making no attempt to meet the members or hear their thoughts for improvement.  Also, the Fitness Center staff were not allowed to engage or assist clients with their fitness goals.  The clients appreciate the help and attention from knowledgeable staff.  Of the Fitness Center staff, most barely acknowledge the members when they are working out.  They also are not in the Fitness Center for most of their shift, and when they are their heads of deep in their cell phones or on their computers play Fort Night.  Please note here that there are one or two Fitness Center staff members who are professional and attentive however the overwhelming majority is not.  Professional, certified fitness instructors should be staffing the Fitness Center.  If not, then no one should be there getting paid for doing nothing.  Additionally, there are many times when staff members outnumber the clients in the Fitness Center or are just sitting around doing absolutely nothing.  This is costing the Township needless budget and now costing the membership a Fitness Center that they love and count on.  Poor management decisions should not cost us our Fitness Center.

7.  There are several members who are ready to step up and manage the Fitness Center on a voluntary basis to keep it going.  These members are ready to sit down with the UP Township Board of Supervisors with a business plan and cost analysis.  This Fitness Center can work with the right people.  The manager now should not be running our Center.  The staff should be reviewed and only those adding value and driven to make the Fitness Center succeed should be maintained.

We, the membership of the UP Fitness Center, want the opportunity to own our Center and make it work.  We ask that you hear us out, sit down are review our plan, and let us take this forward.  The UP Fitness Center is a great community asset and should not be closed!

Thank you.

The Members of the Upper Providence Fitness Center


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