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Southwest Fargo YMCA to offer 24-hour access

The Schlossman YMCA facility in southwest Fargo will start offering 24-hour service on Sept. 6, which worries at least one local 24-hour fitness center owner.

YMCA officials decided in June to expand opportunities for people who work irregular hours in response to requests from members.

"We hope that it will expand our market," said Paul Finstad, president of the YMCA Cass and Clay County branches.

One new employee will be hired to staff the fitness facility at 4243 19th Ave. S. during extended hours.

The YMCA has gradually expanded its hours for years, Finstad said, and even operated on some holidays.

"We're excited about it," he said. "We've been into health and fitness since we started in 1886."

The YMCA's downtown Fargo Fercho branch and Schlossman branch combined have about 550 employees and about 50,000 members. Memberships range from $68 to $35 per month for families and single young adults, Finstad said.

The Schlossman branch will not offer fitness classes or other health programs during extended hours, just the use of its cardiovascular, stretch and free-weight equipment, said Kristan Bullinger, marketing director for the YMCA.

"We're not doing it in response to competition," Bullinger said.

Robert Ingvalson, owner of Elite 24 Hour Health Club at 3820 12th Ave. N. in Fargo, says the YMCA's move will hurt his business.

"It was a benefit to us to be able to offer something that the 'Y' did not," he said in an e-mail response.

Elite 24 Hour Health Club has about 400 members, with about 30 percent working out after the normal workday hours, Ingvalson said. It was the first fitness facility to offer 24-hour services in the Fargo-Moorhead area and because of it attracted more members, he said.

Although the 24-hour fitness market is growing - due to more diverse work schedules - the YMCA has already made it hard for independent businesses to compete in the fitness market and will make it more difficult in the 24-hour fitness market, Ingvalson said.

"The small businesses would probably be doing just as well if we had unlimited resources, as the 'Y' does," Ingvalson said. "I'm sure it will work well for them (YMCA)."