For those in the know, the YWCA on 14th and Belmont Streets NW offered a better deal than the fancy gyms sprouting up in the rapidly gentrifying area: $70 for a ten-class pass; $10 for a single class, or $50 for a month of unlimited fitness classes like Zumba, African dance, or Piloxing (a cross between pilates and kickboxing).
But, students learned recently, after June 28, the classes will end.
It turns out that zumba is not the most effective way to meet the latest goal of the YWCA National Capital Area: “to provide women and girls of color from high need communities with the resources and support they need to be successful emotionally, educationally and professionally.”
The women and girls in question, who reside across the city, tend to gravitate toward the organization’s adult literacy and workforce development programs. The fitness classes, by contrast, have tended to attract young professionals who live in the immediate neighborhood, which has some of the city’s fastest-rising real estate values.
The YWCA, which in 2012 moved from its old Chinatown building to a rented space in a new residential development, decided late last year that two basement rooms currently dedicated to fitness classes would be better used to expand existing programs such as GED training and possibly add new features such as licensing programs for skills like home care, nursing, and computer training, said Shana Heilbron, a spokesperson for the YWCA National Capital Area.
The classes had also failed to break even, she said, adding that they brought in only around half of the approximately $60,000 annual cost of the 1300 square foot space.
“We aren’t excited to be closing the program, because we know that people do enjoy it…but we had to look at it from a revenue standpoint,” she said, adding that the extra space may enable the organization to bring in more government-funded programming.
The fact that a new YMCA with a swimming pool and rock wall opened last year a block and a half away helped make the decision easier, Heilbron said, adding that that facility, while more expensive, would offer a discount to current YWCA fitness students looking to switch.
The two organizations, while partners, do not have the same mandate, she said. “Unlike the YMCA, which offers more fitness and health and wellness, we do look at ourselves as more of a social services agency,” she said. “At the end of the day if there’s an opportunity to grow and build additional revenue streams, I have heard students say they support that.”