Steady membership declines are cited for a decision to close the Round Lake Area Park District's fitness center April 30.
Executive Director Jeff Nehila said fitness center membership has dwindled to 218, far below the 401 needed to break even financially. He said the 17-year-old center has been subsidized by other revenue-generating programs for many years.
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"There's a lot of local competition now, where there wasn't 17 years ago," Nehila said.
As part of a facility with a nature center and pool on Hart Road in Round Lake, the basement-level fitness center has offered basics such as barbells, three-lane indoor miniature track and treadmills.
In addition to the workout equipment, fitness classes at other park facilities and pool access were part of the $255 annual membership fee.
Nehila said the fitness center's basement spot could not accommodate amenities typical of seven private health clubs now within the district's boundaries.
What's happening in the Round Lake area is not a statewide trend, said Peter Murphy, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Association of Park Districts.
Murphy said the 168 park district-operated fitness facilities "are holding their own" and typically attract a family clientele.
Plans call for the Round Lake Area Park District's fitness equipment to be purchased by a wholesale operation. If that fails, Nehila said, the park district would make it available for purchase by the general public.
Fitness center members who have paid for the year won't be left in the lurch when the facility closes April 30, according to park district officials.
American Fitness Center, on Route 59 in unincorporated Ingleside, has agreed to honor park district memberships. Nehila said the private club will allow park district members to finish their terms.
Prorated refunds will go to members who don't want to transfer to American Fitness.