Free ride over for Bulldog Days

Baldwin City's annual summer workout program will no longer be free this year. There are other changes to the program, including calling it Baldwin Fitness Days. Enlarge photo

May 6, 2010

Baldwin City’s summer workout program, Bulldog Days, will no longer be free when it starts up again May 17 at Liston Stadium.

In addition to a fee for individuals or families, Bulldog Days has changed names. It will now be called Baldwin Fitness Days and will be run through the Baldwin City Recreation Commission.

“Not only is there a fee, but everybody has to sign a waiver, just like they do in Lawrence,” said George McCrary, Bulldog Days organizer. “We have a proof of insurance that we are providing for Baker University. Unfortunately, this is the professional side of fitness. Everybody thinks fitness is supposed to be fun, but there is a professional side, too.”

McCrary said Baker University isn’t charging him or BCRC for insurance. However, Baker needs proof of insurance for everyone who attends the workouts.

“For the last five years, thank God, we haven’t really had any incidents,” he said. “I think the worst injury was me spraining my ankle racing some kids.”

This year everyone will be required to sign a waiver, which can be done online, at the BCRC office or at Liston Stadium before the workouts.

“He had some liability issues with insurance out there,” BCRC Director Steve Friend said. “For him to extend his insurance out there was going to cost quite a bit. We have an umbrella insurance and it will extend over this now.”

McCrary also hopes to ensure the longevity of his Bulldogs Days.

“The fee is also set up so that this will be an ongoing program forever, regardless of George and Cheryl McCrary,” McCrary said. “It’s set up as a program that is going to be run through the recreation department. I don’t do fitness classes at my place. I’m now using the recreation commission to do a fitness class for the community. I’m being paid just like every other fitness instructor they have down there. I’m an independent contractor.

“If people really want to get results and want to get after it, they need to be committed,” he said. “Anytime that there is a financial contribution, then people are more committed. That’s a proven statistic.”

Since the program began in 2005, Bulldog Days has been free to the public. It was designed after Lawrence’s Red Dog Days, which remains a free community workout. Bulldog Days has grown each year, with last year being a record summer for the program.

However, changes could be detrimental to the program, according to regular participants.

“I think the cost will definitely negatively affect attendance,” said Marilee Valentine, who has attended every year. “I've talked with quite a few people that say they won't be attending this year. I understand the need for a fee, I just wish it were cheaper.”

This year’s fees are available for individuals or families. If an individual attends one session, it will cost $5. If one person wants to pay for an entire unit (four weeks and 40 possible sessions), it will cost $40. They may also pay for the entire summer (12 weeks and 120 possible sessions), which costs $80. A family may pay for all sessions and that will cost $150 for the entire family. Children ages 10 and under are free.

“There are scholarship dollars at the rec office,” McCrary said. “Nobody is going to get turned away. If somebody can’t afford this, go to the rec office and fill out an application. The first time is always going to be free. Truth be told, the first week is probably going to be free, too.”

Like last summer, any participant who attends 25 or more sessions will receive a free t-shirt. There will be workout sessions at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“This will be different and there will be growing pains,” Friend said. “I’m sure we’ll learn something. When you stop and think about it, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to come and work out with a trainer who does that for a living. It’s still not a bad deal.”

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