GoodLife is offering its free Teen Fitness program across Canada this summer – the first time since 2019 the program has taken place in clubs. GoodLife started the Teen Fitness program in 2010, and this year the program is especially important to help teens address the mental and physical damage caused by the pandemic.
GoodLife is offering teens aged 12-17 free access to its clubs during July and August 2022. Registration is now open at teenfitness.ca
Statistics Canada confirms youth in Canada are reporting lower levels of physical activity since before the pandemic, with the percentage of youth meeting the Canadian physical activity recommendation dropping from 51% in the fall of 2018 to 37% in the fall of 2020. In addition, the Canadian Mental Health Association reports roughly 1 in 5 children or youth are struggling with mental health challenges that stem from pandemic conditions.
“Teen Fitness participants tell us having access to the gym helps them establish a routine, build confidence and connect with friends. These benefits can help youth take better care of their health – not just the physical, but also the mental health erosion many experienced as a result of isolation, hours of unstructured sedentary time and nearly constant stress throughout the pandemic,” said Jason Sheridan, COO, GoodLife Fitness.
Creating a routine
For many teens, the absence of a structured routine during the summer months can contribute to lack of direction, negative behaviours and boredom. Studies find a more stable routine can help reduce stress, increase focus and boost mood. Teen Fitness participants agree that going to the gym adds some much-needed structure to help them feel more in control of their lives.
Tanner Borsch from Toronto took part in Teen Fitness several years ago. Now 21, he says the chance to go to the gym helped him make fitness a part of his daily routine over the summer, and that routine has since become a longstanding habit.
“A friend from school introduced me to Teen Fitness. We went to the gym together and he kept me accountable. It has had a huge impact on my mental health. I like to start my day with a workout, it starts me in a positive mindset for the day. It started with my friend taking me to the gym and I kept that habit.”
Improving self-esteem, confidence
Learning and improving skills at the gym, and in any aspect of life, can go a long way to boosting self-confidence. Borsch felt more confident as he became more familiar with fitness. For him, the hardest part was just getting started.
“Building confidence is so important at that age. Teen Fitness showed me how to find that confidence myself from within. I learned to not compare myself to others, and to try to be the best version of myself. Going to the gym can feel daunting at first, but showing up is the most important step. Something is always better than nothing. Find any way to increase your physical activity, and Teen Fitness is a superb place to start,” Borsch added.
Claudia Brzakala, age 15 from Hamilton, ON said the Teen Fitness program helped her learn new skills and adopt healthier habits.
“Group fitness classes are a great place to start. I discovered that waking up every day to become a better version of myself mentally and physically has completely transformed my life. I still sometimes attend classes, and through the week I do my own structured workout. Once you take that step, you’ll notice how much you crave that serotonin after a workout and you’ll fall in love with the process. My advice is to start slowly, and be consistent.”
Encouraging social connectedness
Social connectedness is one of the most significant benefits of being a gym member. For teens, this benefit can make a big difference to quality of life. Research shows supportive relationships with family and friends in combination with healthy behaviors like working out can shield against the harmful effects of the pandemic on adolescents’ mental health.
For 19-year-old Jackson MacDonald of Windsor, ON, the Teen Fitness program was a chance to connect with friends who shared his interests.
“When you’re young, you should be looking to try new things while you have time and energy. Teen Fitness and going to the gym are great ways to spend time productively and healthily. I saw a lot of other kids, and started to appreciate the community I experienced just by going to the gym. Community is obviously very important when you’re a teen as well.”
Teen Fitness is available to anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 and includes access to 200+ GoodLife Fitness Clubs across Canada. A parent or legal guardian must register a teen for the program, but they do not need to be an existing GoodLife Member to register.