Fitness Chain Offers Free Summer Memberships to Teens

Lifestyle Family Fitness will kick off its annual Teen Initiative on May 15 - meaning all of the chain's clubs throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest will open their doors to kids between the ages of 12 and 17 for free. This is the fourth year the chain that IHRSA tapped as one of the top 20 fastest-growing health club companies in the world has offered the program.

"In an effort to battle teen inactivity, Lifestyle Family Fitness began donating free, two-month health club memberships to teens in 2006," says club founder Geoff Dyer. "In 2010, the number of registered teens increased 117 percent from when the program first started. We do this during the summer months, because many teens would not otherwise have access to physical education during the summer break."

Dyer, who battled childhood obesity and tipped the scales at 248 pounds when he was 17, cites a 2010 study that revealed teens who are genetically predisposed to obesity can maintain a healthy body weight by exercising for an hour a day. "Family members tend to pass off their teen's extra weight as 'puppy fat' or make excuses saying, 'You'll grow out of it; don't worry about it,' " he says. "The better approach is for the parent to lead by example. Eat sensibly, be active and be supportive and encouraging."

Last summer, Lifestyle Family Fitness donated more than 11,000 memberships to teens at its 55 locations. This year, the Teen Initiative program will run through August 15 and provide free access until 4 p.m. on weekdays and all-day access on weekends.

Additionally, the nonprofit Gary Carleton told Athletic Business last year. "So now we're engaging mixed martial arts and karate schools to adopt this initiative, as well."

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