BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Maryland Farms YMCA plans to install electronic devices to track towels, after spending nearly $30,000 a year replacing towels taken by members.
Maryland Farms Y member Marie Garner before her workout and one thing she says is a plus coming to this Y, the towels provided at the front desk.
"It's very beneficial," said Garner. "I don't have to worry about a wet towel being in my bag and it's less weight I have to carry on me. I think it's pretty awesome the Y provides its members with towels."
That member benefit has become a financial burden for the gym as hundreds of towels walk out of the door every year.
"You throw the towel around your shoulder and you get out to the car and you forget, 'oh no, I took the towel'. You get home and you forget it's in your bag. It's unintentional. They are just unintentionally taking them,' said Membership Director, Brett Peterson
With 17,000 yearly members and an average of 2,500 members working out of just the Maryland Farms YMCA a day, it's not surprising that costs the gym $30,000 a year to replace the missing towels.
"We're a non-profit and we want to help give back; so this money, that $30,000,could go towards other programs," said Peterson.
To keep track of the towels, the gym has sewn Radio Frequency Identification Technology into all their towels. The sensor works like most sensors at department stores.Once the towel gets too close to the activator above the door, an alert goes off.
"Nobody is getting arrested, nobody is getting searched, nobody is getting tackled or anything like that. It's just our staff will kindly ask, you may have a towel on you or did you forget to throw the towel in the bin," said Peterson.
The Y will start using the new technology Wednesday.
To offset the costs, the Y has teamed up with local organizations to help with placing the sensors inside each towel.