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Y Buys Athletic Club, Won't Up Dues or Change Programming

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Copyright 2013 Capital Gazette Communications, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Capital (Annapolis, MD)
August 20, 2013 Tuesday
A; Pg.5
419 words
Big Vanilla in Arnold sold;
Y of Central Md. buys health club
TIM PRUDENTE tprudente@capgaznews.com

Dues won't increase for more than 5,000 members of the Big Vanilla Athletic Club in Arnold after the gym's sale last month, former owner Larry Ray said.

The sale to the Y of Central Maryland, which will take over full management duties by Sept. 19, was announced Monday.

Individual membership dues, fitness classes and children's programs will not change under the new ownership, Ray said.

Family memberships may get cheaper, said John Hoey, president of the Y of Central Maryland.

The Y charges families a flat rate of $79 a month.

"We'll provide them what Big Vanilla has and hopefully some additional things," Hoey said.

The sale does not include the Big Vanilla Athletic Club on Magothy Beach Road in Pasadena. Ray will continue to own that facility.

"People don't like change. I get that. But our employees are very excited," Ray said.

The Y of Central Maryland is offering to retain the gym's approximately 160 employees at their current salaries.

Next month, the 80,000-square-foot athletic club will be transformed into the Greater Annapolis Family Center Y, a hub from which the charitable organization will deliver programs and services throughout the county.

It now operates four summer camps, and eight before- and after-school programs in Anne Arundel.

The center will offer discounts for youth programs and scholarships for low-income families, according to the release.

The Y of Central Maryland is a charitable organization with the mission of offering affordable health and wellness programs.

"I've always been a fan of the Y. When I learned of their interest to grow, a light bulb went off and I thought this could be a win-win situation," Ray said.

He has owned the gym at 1209 Ritchie Highway for 25 years. He worked as a Big Vanilla manager for 10 years before purchasing the business and is eager for partial retirement.

"This will help me practice what I preach ... to pursue a bit more balance in life and work a little less," Ray said.

Ray is an Anne Arundel Community College graduate. His business plan was born from a college term paper he wrote in the 1970s. It outlined plans for an athletic and racquetball club designed for families.

"I've been rewarded so many times by the results people get, and the accolades," he said.

Club Industry, which operates a website and magazine for fitness industry professionals, ranked Big Vanilla Athletic Club's Pasadena location as No. 62 among the nation's top health clubs, with $11.8 million in revenue last year.

Ray and Hoey wouldn't disclose the sales price.

Big Vanilla Athletic Club off Route 2 in Arnold has been sold to the Y of Central Maryland.
Big Vanilla Athletic Club off Route 2 in Arnold has been sold to the Y of Central Maryland.
Big Vanilla Athletic Club in Arnold has been sold to the Y of Central Maryland.
Big Vanilla Athletic Club in Arnold has been sold to the Y of Central Maryland.
August 21, 2013

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