The YMCA of Greater Cleveland began their go!FIT initiative with a large scale community outreach in December 2009. The goal of this program was to provide adults in Cuyahoga County with the tools necessary to improve their overall health through exercise, weight loss, and increased healthy lifestyle habits. Some of the primary health issues that affect Cuyahoga County residents are diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, all of which are preventable and/or treatable.
The go!FIT initiative offered local residents in Cuyahoga County the opportunity to receive a free 3-month membership to any of the YMCAs or Curves Fitness Clubs located within the county. Additionally, participants received discounts on healthy food items and exercise classes. Partners of the program included the Cleveland Clinic, Dave’s Supermarkets, Curves, and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
YMCA of Greater Cleveland - Cleveland, Ohio, United States
The Cleveland Clinic and the YMCA of Greater Cleveland conducted surveys and discussion forums in the community, and results showed that although individuals did have a strong desire to improve their health, they lacked the resources and knowledge to do so on their own. Another significant limitation many people experienced was the cost associated with most gyms or fitness clubs; this prevented many adults from actively becoming part of a structured health and wellness organization. This knowledge prompted the YMCA of Greater Cleveland to create the go!FIT initiative.
The mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. The YMCA of Greater Cleveland seeks to promote three primary areas of service within the community that include Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. go!FIT was created and designed to serve area adults with a desire to improve their overall wellness at no cost.
Through extensive discussions with the Cleveland Clinic and other partners within the program, the organization was able to offer significant insight on what positive changes the constituent base of over 61,000 individuals would like to be a part of.
go!FIT began with a large scale community outreach in December 2009. In order to make the program accessible for all adults, individuals had the opportunity to sign up online or by visiting a YMCA Branch to ensure that those without computer access would not be excluded.
The program had originally hoped to serve approximately 900 individuals at YMCA branches included under the association umbrella. After the registration period came to a close, results indicated that a staggering 9,111 residents had registered at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland’s ten locations. In order to best meet the needs of all of the interested potential participants, the YMCA began to make plans to serve this large number of health-seekers by separating them into three separate cohorts that would last three months each so that everyone would have an opportunity to participate in the program despite the increased levels of interest.
At the start of go!FIT all participants began the program with a baseline evaluation that gathered basic personal health indicators. The staff also discussed the individual goals of the participants within the program and what they hoped to achieve during this three month period. All participants received an orientation to the facility that included instructions on how to use fitness equipment and provided answers to any questions regarding programming. Following the primary introduction participants were required to continue assessments each week and each month to help YMCA Health & Wellness staff determine participation levels, number of workouts, total minutes of exercise, weight loss and Body Mass Index (BMI). In order to maintain their affiliation in this program, individuals were required to utilize the facility a minimum of three times weekly.
Additionally, all YMCA participants of the program were surveyed following their three month membership with an attempt to gather individual views on member satisfaction, overall attitudes about health and wellness at the start and completion of the program, and their YMCA experience.
Participants of the go!FIT program continue to have the opportunity to become members of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland following their participation in this no cost program. Approximately 1,700 people have continued to their involvement in the YMCA of Greater Cleveland by converting to full-paying members.
Should members be unable to afford the cost of membership at this time, the YMCA has a scholarship initiative for adults, families and children designed to offset this cost based upon a sliding income scale. The goal of this assistance is to provide programming and membership to all individuals with a desire to participate regardless of their ability to pay. Support for our scholarship efforts remains a critical initiative in order to keep up with the rising demands of individuals and families within the community that are unable to afford the full cost of our services.
In terms of health measurements, the average weight loss of a YMCA go!FIT participant that completed the program was 4.26 pounds. In terms of community benefit, over 9,000 individuals registered for go!FIT at area YMCAs. The cost of this effort that remained unsupported by the Cleveland Clinic was over 1.3 million dollars in services rendered by the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. The go!FIT initiative was very popular in Cleveland, with several news articles published about the program, including Program Offers Free Gym Membership to Cuyahoga County Residents, There’s No Excuse to Put Off Getting Fit in the New Year, Cleveland Clinic’s go!FIT campaign attracts thousands, and Response overwhelming to Cleveland Clinic, YMCA, Curves collaboration that offers free 3-month memberships.
YMCA of Greater Cleveland's Website: www.clevelandymca.org