Friday, February 22, 2013
Blog: Bring In Teens with Pre-Prom Fitness Programs
A friend with teenage daughters told me her girls want to start coming to the gym. Since in the past, they have been infrequent visitors at best, I was surprised.|
"Well," she said, "they both have proms this year, and they want to look good."
Talk about a fitness marketing opportunity in the making. This is something gyms could use to pick up some teen members, and in particular, teen girls who might not currently be active in sports — simply because they don't consider themselves athletes. If there were special rates for these kids, an introductory session with a trainer to familiarize them with the gym and equipment, and perhaps even group discounts if they brought in their friends, it might be an even more successful incentive. Clubs could partner with high schools, teen centers and others to market these pre-prom programs.
I realize the prom sounds like a shallow and appearance-based reason to entice a teenager to join a gym, but before you climb up on the soapbox, consider this: It teaches them that the route to the results they want is paved with fitness and healthy habits, not crash diets and other self-destructive behaviors.
Nobody needs to be told many teenage girls obsess over clothing sizes or hitting a specific number on the scale. And unfortunately, we know plenty of them will take those shortcuts that sacrifice their health in order to get them where they want to be. Getting them into regular fitness, and perhaps also offering a group program for teens in which a trainer or even a healthcare professional could give encouragement, positive reinforcement and weekly nutrition tips, also might help some of them avoid this trap.
Seventeen magazine's website has a series of two-minute video clips, showing suggested at-home workouts for girls who want to look good in various dress styles (backless, strapless, short, whatever). That's a nice hook, but it's missing the essential point: Fitness needs to be a part of kids' lives, not something they do for a few weeks in private in order to achieve a short-term goal.
And just as with adults, it's essential that fitness not be a chore. If teenagers can find a program that is fun for them, whether it's circuit training, dance-based classes, group cycling or anything else, chances are they'll be more inclined to stick with it after the prom.