The Willamalane Park District near Eugene, Ore., opened the Splash! At Lively Park waterpark in 1989.

While this recreation facility does pretty well, in many ways it’s the fitness programming that keeps the community interested in aquatics, says Christine Crutcher, aquatic program manager. Crutcher and her team offer a number of aquatic fitness classes, most at the Willamalane Park Swim center, which has an eight-lane, 25-yard lap pool and a warm-water play/exercise pool.

Those classes generate a profit margin of about 50 percent, and while the overall aquatic program is still subsidized, the deficit would be much larger were it not for the fitness classes, Crutcher says.

To generate maximum attendance, she’s modeled the program after health clubs, with a drop-in class admission policy and convenient hours. To encourage them to stick with it, patrons receive a “punch card” good for one free class after participating in 10 class sessions.

“You have to have that group of people that helps you sustain in the times that are quieter,” Crutcher notes.