Proposed New Membership Structure (The Villager 2016-3)

CA Considers New Membership Structure

(This article will be published in The Villager, March 2016.)

CA Staff Proposed New Membership Structure

Columbia Association (CA) is working to improve our fitness membership services and increase community participation. The current Package Plan membership structure is very complex. Therefore, CA staff recently recommended a six-category membership structure based on the study by consultant Club Intel:

  • Fitness membership:
    • one fitness club (all equipment and group fitness classes); One guest pass for use each month.
  • Recreation membership:
    • All outdoor pools; Swim Center with SplashDown; Sports Park; SkatePark; Ice Rink; All outdoor and indoor tennis courts; One guest pass for use each month.
  • AquaFit membership:
    • Recreation Membership; All three fitness clubs and everything in them; Discounted green fees; Two guest passes for use each month.
  • Weekday Golf Membership:
    • Eight-day advance reservations; unlimited green fees on weekdays; both courses; Handicap fees.
  • Seven-Day Golf Membership:
    • Eight-day advance reservations; Unlimited green fees on all seven days, both courses; Handicap fees.
  • Golf-Fit Membership:
    • AquaFit Membership; Seven-Day Golf Membership; KidSpace free; Two guest passes for use each month.
  • Haven on the Lake and Hobbit Glen Golf Course memberships would continue to have separate membership pricing.

The key success indicator for a new fitness membership structure is an affordable price with great customer service. Currently CA has approximately 20,000 memberships (6000 of them are non-CA residents) and Columbia has around 100,000 residents. We want to serve as many residents as possible and still maintain quality service. I believe CA’s fitness program, pathway and open space are an integral and enjoyable part of our resident’s daily life.

My primary thought on the membership rate is that we should provide a relatively low rate to residents (they already pay the Annual Charge fee) and a market competitive rate (a little lower than other commercial facilities in our community) to non-residents.

 Membership Without Price

Without a price tag for the membership structure proposed by CA staff, it is difficult to make a decision. If the price is really low then the facilities may become overcrowded. If the price is too high, many residents will not be able to afford memberships. We have to strike a balance between these two factors. At the same time, CA needs to have a healthy fiscal condition too. I am expecting the CA Board will soon receive more details from staff on the projected membership numbers and projected revenue.

  My Proposed Membership Structure

Instead of bundling many facilities and services together, I prefer a more flexible membership structure which gives more freedom to our members.  It is obvious that for elderly families and families with young kids, their needs are quite different. For example, I seldom see elderly people swimming in the outdoor pools.

I prefer to exclude group lessons and classes from the membership structure. They offer added-on value such that they should be purchased separately.

1: Basic Membership

  • Members have freedom to adjust the structure twice a year.
  • Members may choose only one from the following facilities:
    • (1) Columbia Athletic Club;
    • (2) Columbia Gym,
    • (3) Supreme Sports Club,
    • (4) Outdoor pools,
    • (5) Columbia Swim Center,
    • (6) Skate Arena, Ice Rink, Sports Park;
    • (7) Fairway Hills Golf Club, and
    • (8) Tennis Facilities

2: Advanced Membership

Choose three of the facilities from the list above.

3: Full Membership:

Have access to all the facilities from the list above.

4: Luxury Membership

Include Haven on the Lake or Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course or both. These two facilities are expensive and premier If customers have the basic or advanced membership, they will get a discount on Haven on the Lake or Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course memberships.

5. Guest membership

  • For every membership type, members should receive one free membership in any other facilities for themselves. I believe this will expose them to different facilities, especially Haven on the Lake or Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course and hope they will use other facilities later.
  • For every membership, members should receive one or two guest passes

 6. Different Price Scheme

CA resident and non-CA residence price; Low-income price; Family and non-family price; Short-term visitor price.

By providing such a structure, I believe it will be easier for members to participate in programs and services that better match their needs.  I would really appreciate your input on the CA staff proposed membership structure and on my concept. Please email me at or the whole CA Board  We really need to hear from you.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email:  Tel: 240-481-9637  Website:

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.



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