Michelle Dengler, Senior Director of Healthy Lifestyles for YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles discusses challenges – and solutions – for YMCAs today.

Nearly 20 years ago, when the words “core & functional training” were just starting to be heard within the fitness industry, Dengler had the foresight to do something about it.

“I was experiencing core training and functional training at industry events, such as IDEA World, and realized how impactful this could be, so we ripped out the walls of three racquetball courts at the Green Hills Family YMCA in Middle Tennessee and turned the area into a makeshift functional training zone, installing pull up bars, slam balls, tubing, etc. eventually adding kettlebells and battle ropes” said Dengler. “Our YMCA membership eventually quadrupled, moving from 3,000 membership units to 12,000. I knew I was onto something.”

In 2011 Michelle took the concept of functional fitness to the YMCA of Greater Boston,  opening up space for using strength training with balance, coordination and body weight  workouts. Through a YMCA preferred vendor, Michelle learned about Aktiv Solutions. Since then, Aktiv has transformed six YMCA’s in partnership with Dengler, and currently have several more in the pipeline.

“I appreciate the consultative approach that Aktiv takes with clients, the unit space saving and equipment storage component, as well as the functional training aspects of the unit. I believe that’s definitely helped lead to our success”, said Dengler. “Also the products and customer support are extraordinary.”

Small group training continues to be another booming trend, and YMCAs just weren’t doing this a few years ago.

“The concept of a “boutique” studio space for small group training, functional movement and social interaction within the YMCA has resulted in their locations attracting and retaining more trainers and more members overall.”

As Dengler moves forward, she plans to incorporate more education to upskill the trainers, realizing that will lead to more varied and fun workouts for the members and keep them coming back for more.

“Movement elicits positive emotions, and everyone deserves to have access to an environment that truly facilitates a fun, safe and results driven exercise experience,” said Dengler.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Aktiv Solutions has partnered with over 50 YMCAs to help drive membership and success.