The YMCA of the Fox Cities, Appleton, WI, announced last week it will assume management, operations and ownership of the two Health and Fitness Headquarters (HFH) clubs in Waupaca, WI.

According to the Y, HFH owner Rick Johnson contacted William Breider, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Fox Cities, on March 23 to discuss the possibility of the merger. Four days later, the Y's board voted unanimously to move forward with the partnership.

The transition is expected to begin Sept. 1. Randy O’Connell, general manager of HFH, will become executive director of the Waupaca YMCA Program Center, which will operate as part of the Neenah-Menasha branch of the YMCA of the Fox Cities, the Post-Crescent newspaper in Appleton reported.

"Our immediate goal is a seamless transition to members with the opportunity to explore new programs in the future," Breider told the Post-Crescent. "One of the things that we're most excited about is YMCA members from throughout the state of Wisconsin would be able to use the facilities in Waupaca, and in turn association members from the Waupaca area would be able to use YMCA services from throughout the state."

HFH has about 3,500 members, including a corporate membership agreement with the Waupaca Foundry, the area's largest employer, according to the Y. Members who intend to use only the two HFH clubs will continue to pay the same membership fee, Breider told the newspaper. There will be an additional fee for Waupaca members who plan to use other YMCA facilities across the state, Breider added.

HFH has 25 employees who will be given an opportunity to apply for jobs with the YMCA, the newspaper reported.

Johnson, an attorney and legal counsel to a local bank in Waupaca, purchased HFH in 2006 from a local family. HFH opened its second club in downtown Waupaca last October. Also in October, the YMCA of the USA approved the YMCA of the Fox Cities to provide services in the Waupaca community.

Johnson agreed to help subsidize the Waupaca YMCA Program Center for the next 2 1/2 years, Breider told the newspaper.

The YMCA of the Fox Cities has five branches plus a camp.