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Club based fitness programs proving popular with teenagers

Club based fitness programs proving popular with teenagers
December 8, 2014

A growing number of gyms and fitness operators are reporting success with activity programs aimed at teenagers - partly due to an appreciation that today's youth gym goers are tomorrow's adult club members.

In Canberra, Fernwood Belconnen Manager Lynn Williams said numbers of under-18s at the female-only fitness centre had almost tripled in the last five years, with encouraging mothers a key factor.

Williams told the Canberra Times "when I first began at Fernwood it was taboo to bring their daughters to the gym, now that's changed."

Williams said between 15 and 30 school-aged members exercised at Belconnen and about 20 at Fernwood Gungahlin, with numbers boosted by approaches to nearby colleges.

She added that the large majority were aged 16 and 17, with their focus on dancing and treadmill sessions rather than weight training. 

Gold's Gym Canberra Manager Matt Vozella said the number of minors across the Gold's centres at Fyshwick and Gungahlin had grown, with teenage boys under the biggest pressure from society to join.

Vozella old the Canberra Times "generally if you have a good physique as a woman there won't be a lot you need to do (but today) the sign of what is attractive for a man is a muscular body, and you can't have that without training and eating well.

Vozella suggested that social media was "probably the most influencing factor", adding "it also goes hand in hand with the health and fitness culture - taking selfies, updates with the progress of the body, what you're eating."

Gold's Gym Australia Head Coach Alicia Gowans has also seen an increase in young women working out, often encouraged by parents.

Gowans told the Canberra Times "it's more about the empowerment, being strong rather than skinny."

In Sydney, personal trainers Studio 46 estimates that up to 40 youngsters are working with personal trainers at their gym, with clients' needs ranging from weight loss to skills acquisition, as well as specific training goals like race events and competitions.

They also train children with special needs ranging from asthma to autism.While gyms have often seen teenage users as a deterring attendance by older members, more chains and stand-alone clubs are seeing the value of attracting teenagers to their facilities - due to an appreciation that establishing a habit for gym use among teenagers will likely keep them as fitness club members throughout their lifes.

Fitness First Australia has long encouraged its Clubs to reach out to local high schools to encourage use during off-peak periods and has also allowed teenagers to use Fitness First clubs across Australia for free during school holidays.

Fitness First clubs across Australia open their doors free of charge to youth between 14 and 18 years throughout the holidays, inviting them to take part in FFIT (Fitness First Initiative for Teens) Holidays (pictured below), with no membership necessary.

Commenting on the initiative, Fitness First National Personal Training Manager Michael Cunico, said that teaching kids the importance of being active every day and forming healthy habits early on is the key to brighter, fitter futures.

Cunico explains “now, more than ever before, Australian kids are less and less active, ranking among the worst in the world for physical activity levels.

"We need to encourage teens to develop healthy lifestyle habits from a young age, as exercising stimulates happiness, energy, confidence and focus which are so important."

Earlier this year, Les Mills International, creator of adult group fitness programs, launched its Born to Move movement-based programs for children and youth, with classes for teenagers focusing on building dance, yoga, martial arts and athletic skills.

Dr Carolyn Broderick, Staff Specialist in Paediatric Sports Medicine at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital recently told the Sydney Morning Herald of the need for an increase in gym-based programs for teenages.

Dr Broderick stated "there is emerging evidence about the great importance of physical activity and more importantly the terrible health and cost burden of physical inactivity.

"It seems to be that if you are an inactive adolescent you are more likely to be an inactive adult."

Images: Les Mills Born to Move (top) and FFIT Holidays (below).





19th May 2009 - KIDS IN NZ GYMS

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