A new year, a new you, we’ve all seen the ads. Well so have your teens. Dieting and exercise are on everyone’s minds especially at this time of year. And for our teens the message is being sent loud and clear with every video they watch, and with shows on MTV dedicated to teens losing weight and being “Made”. In many instances that’s just the push they need to make a change for the better. But what do we do when they ask us if they can join a gym.The first thing to do is sit down with your teen and explain the money and commitment it takes to join “the gym”. Do you have exercise equipment at home that is just collecting dust? We all do don’t we. Has your teen tried using that treadmill and given up after just a few minutes? Explain to them that going to the gym is just using someone else’s equipment, but in a different setting. Will they make the effort to go? Convey to them that they can’t quit after the first week, you will have to pay for a long time.
Finding the Right Gym:
When my teen ask us if he could join a gym and get in shape the first thing I had to do was make some phone calls to see who would offer a membership to a 13 year old. The age of your child and what Fitness clubs offer memberships to children may limit your selections. It did mine. I had wanted a pool to be included in the membership options, but none of the gyms with a pool would accept my son. Sure we could go to our local Y, but they don’t always offer the use of the gym equipment to youths. After making a few phone calls I found three gyms that would offer my son a membership. I asked a few simple questions when I called: What was the cost? Did they offer free trail memberships? Were there personal trainers on hand all the time to answer questions? and were teens considered regular members, or were they given use of the gym at only certain times? We scheduled visits.
What to Look For:
The first thing my teen looked at when we entered the first gym was at the guys with ripped abs. He was hooked. I looked for a sense of security. If I wasn’t always going to be sitting there waiting for my teen to do his program, would he be safe waiting for me. Was there a sitting area where people and staff where always present? Was it clean?
Next we looked at the machines. My son looked for a variety of machines and the different options they would give him to work out. I looked to see how clean they were, and if they were well maintained. Our tour guide, aka personal trainer, assured us the machines were cleaned daily, and that the gym always had paper towels and cleaner at several stations throughout the building for members to use themselves.
The personal trainer then showed us the changing rooms. The standard men and women’s locker rooms, but with a nice twist. This gym offered several single changing rooms for both men and women to use by themselves. That made me feel much better about having my son get changed in the gym. If he felt uncomfortable or unsafe, he could change by himself with a lock on the door.
When we toured the fitness studio we were told it was open at all times and members were welcome to come in and do their own thing when no class was in session. I looked at the class schedule and knew there were no classes my son would take. If you have a teen daughter she may be interested in taking some of the classes. Make sure the classes fit into your schedule too. I know Zumba is big with my friend’s teenage daughters. Make sure teens are welcome in the fitness classes if they want to attend.
The last thing I looked at was the general gathering of people at the gym. Were they a bunch of muscle pumping gym rats, or was this a place my teen would feel comfortable coming to. I looked around and saw a huge age range of people. It was afterschool and the school baseball team was making use of the gym. As was the school lacrosse team. There were teens everywhere. Turns out the teams were given a special deal to come for pre-season training. That may be something to look into. Does your child play a sport? Are they required to train for the sport? Is the team offered a discount at a local fitness club?
Don’t Forget the Free Trial Offer:
Before we signed my teen up for a membership we toured the other gyms and asked the same questions and I looked for the same things I had at the first gym; safety, cleanliness, comfort, and staff. We did the free trial memberships before we joined to see at which gym we were most comfortable. I must say that was the smartest thing we did. There really is a difference between gyms and who goes to which ones. Joining the Gym:We were so pleased with the first gym, we both joined. I’m glad we joined together. I see too many teens at the gym walking around looking at other teens and texting. Joining with my teen keeps me in touch with what he is doing. We were both given three personal training sessions to help us with our programs, and that has made a big difference too. We do not have the same goals, and our programs are not the same. We didn’t have the same trainer which was good too. He was given a trainer that works better with the teens. I don’t always have the time to go to the gym with him but I feel comfortable dropping him off at the door.