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CRITICS GET ALL WORKED UP OVER FITNESS CENTER

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Orem's Fitness Center isn't fit.

And "City Council interference" is the reason it isn't, according to a survey taken by Leader Associates Inc. for Sports Organization Services.Briefly presented in a recent City Council meeting, the survey was commissioned by the city in an effort to gather information about the center, which has been troubled the past year by a drop in usage and revenue.

Leader Associates interviewed employees, people who frequently use the center and people who rarely use the facility to come up with a variety of "themes" that explain some of the problems at the center.

Those include the perception that the center is a low priority with city officials and that there was no reason for the change in fee structure that effectively did away with discounts and raised the price for families dramatically.

The fee increase was "discriminatory and unjustified" said 75 percent of the people interviewed who did not work at the center.

"The City Council is the big obstacle for the future," said one interviewee.

Others went on record saying the center is critically needed in the community and should be expanded rather than trimmed. Employees interviewed expressed frustration with a series of broken promises from the city.

"No one will fight for us," said one. "I'm embarrassed to work at the Fitness Center because we tell the public one thing and then we don't follow through," said another.

Many asked for Sunday hours and additional classes, equipment and programs.

Almost all felt the center will need to be and should be subsidized to survive.

"A fitness center is a bonus," said one respondent.

"It's not practical to be self-sustaining," said another.

Respondents had some suggestions for improving the center: "Welcome new residents with a free month pass," "offer family coupon specials" and "provide shuttle service for senior citizens."

Many said marketing and promotion of the center must be improved.