Creating Members of Tomorrow: The Amazing Initiative of Summer Teen Fitness

The amazing initiative of Summer Teen Fitness
By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Encouraging teens to engage in regular gym workouts is crucial for their overall well-being. It is also a smart business decision – get a teen hooked on fitness, and you might have a new member for life.


As the first week of summer kicks off, two big fitness franchises – GoodLife Fitness and Planet Fitness – have swung open their doors to teens, offering free access all summer long.


“Planet Fitness is proud to continue to invest in today’s youth by providing free access to fitness during a crucial time in their lives,” said Craig Benson, Interim CEO of Planet Fitness in a press release. “Many teens continue to be impacted by the long-term mental health impacts from the pandemic, yet studies show that exercise can have a significant, positive impact on teens’ overall wellness.”


It is not a moment too soon.


According to the World Health Organization, over 80 percent of school-aged adolescents do not meet the daily recommendation for at least one hour per day of physical activity. The inactivity levels are particularly high for girls, with more than 85% of teen girls not reaching recommended levels. Increased screen time reduced physical education in school and more societally accepted sedentary behavior contributes to the growing threat. In fact, teens are presenting with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease like no other time in history.


And while the benefits of physical activity are well-known, there are specific gains for getting teens active.

Physical Health Benefits


Cardiovascular Health: Recent studies underscore the importance of exercise in improving cardiovascular health among teens. Regular physical activity helps maintain healthy blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels, and enhances heart function. According to a 2023 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health, teens who engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily have significantly lower risks of developing heart disease later in life.


Obesity and Metabolic Health: Research from the International Journal of Obesity (2024) indicates that consistent physical activity can combat obesity by increasing metabolic rate and promoting healthier body composition. The study highlights that teens who participate in sports or regular exercise routines are less likely to become obese compared to their inactive peers.


Bone and Muscle Development: Exercise is essential for the development of strong bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities, such as running and jumping, stimulate bone growth and increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later years. A 2022 study in Bone Health and Osteoporosis Journal found that teens who engage in regular physical activities have higher bone mineral density and stronger musculoskeletal systems.

Mental Health Benefits


Reducing Anxiety and Depression: Physical activity has been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. A comprehensive review in the Journal of Adolescent Health (2023) found that teens who engage in regular exercise experience lower levels of anxiety and depression.


Boosting Cognitive Function: Exercise has positive effects on cognitive function and academic performance. Research from Frontiers in Psychology (2023) revealed that regular physical activity improves memory, attention, and executive function in teens. The study suggests that the increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain during exercise contribute to these cognitive enhancements.


Stress Management: Adolescence is a period of significant stress, and exercise can be an effective stress management tool. According to a 2022 study published in Stress and Health, teens who participate in physical activities, particularly team sports, report lower stress levels and better coping mechanisms compared to those who are less active.

Social and Emotional Benefits


Building Social Skills: Joining a gym creates a new social circle for teens. Recent research in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology indicates that teens involved in sports are more likely to develop teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, which are beneficial for their personal and professional lives.


Enhancing Self-Esteem: Exercise can significantly boost self-esteem and body image. A 20023 study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that teens who engage in regular physical activity have higher self-esteem and a more positive body image compared to their sedentary peers. The sense of accomplishment from achieving fitness goals and the social support from peers contribute to these improvements.


Preventing Risky Behaviors: Engaging in sports and physical activities can reduce the likelihood of teens engaging in risky behaviors. A 2023 study in the Journal of Adolescent Research found that teens who participate in regular physical activities are less likely to engage in substance abuse, delinquency, and other risky behaviors. The structured environment and positive peer influences in sports play a crucial role in this prevention.

In a survey, 85 percent of teens say there is no better time than right now to improve their health, while 90 percent of teens feel exercising with a friend is beneficial for their fitness journey – and nine out of ten teens say that joining a gym will motivate them to get healthier.


“It’s great to see teens so interested and engaged in fitness.  They really understand the benefits for their mental and physical health, and they value the chance to spend time with their friends while being active. We’re here to help teens learn more about how to use the equipment and give them workout ideas so they can try different things, make the most of their time at the gym and have fun in the process,” said Tracy Matthews, vice president of experience & safety, GoodLife Fitness.


Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of Fitness Industry Council of Canada, says this Active Teen initiative is one of the most important trends of summer. “Not every kid is going to be destined for sports, but every kid can shape their destiny with fitness being part of their daily lifestyle,” says Hardy.  “The impact this can have on Canada is immense. We applaud all the gyms who are opening their doors to Canadian youth this summer.”

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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