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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)


MANCHESTER -- Planet Fitness is offering teens free admission this summer to get in shape.

The "PF Teen Summer Challenge" allows teens age 15 to 18 to sign up at one of 16 Granite State locations to use the fitness center for free through Sept. 1.

"This is a great example of a community private partner making an investment in kids," Gov. Chris Sununu said while people worked out nearby on exercise equipment at the Eddy Road fitness center.

Company CEO Chris Rondeau afterward said he hopes thousands of teens will sign up, and that high schools near his fitness centers were notified about the program.

Almost half of New Hampshire teens don't get at least 60 minutes of recommended exercise a day and about a quarter are overweight or obese, Rondeau said.

"Planet Fitness wants to be a solution for them," Rondeau told reporters.

Four $2,500 scholarships will be given out to be used for academic or physical fitness activities. If teens are 15 to 17 years old, they will need to bring a parent or guardian to go with them the first time to sign a waiver.

Sununu reminded people that often things are done "very locally here" in New Hampshire and urged other businesses to follow.

"A great example for the other businesses to challenge themselves to be creative, whatever opportunities we can find within our businesses and within our communities to make that social difference, to actually have a true impact on the welfare of kids in our communities going forward," Sununu said.

Hampton-based Planet Fitness counts nearly 12 million members in all 50 states. A 17th Granite State location will open up in Merrimack in about two weeks.

Jeffrey Meyers, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said students will benefit more than just building their muscles."We know that there are studies out there that tie fitness with their performance in schools, so this is just an amazing program," Meyers said.

Teens normally would have to pay $10 a month with a $10 or $20 signup fee, according to Rondeau.

Shirley Tomlinson, teen director at the Manchester Boys & Girls Club, said the club is working on providing free transportation to bring qualified teens to the Eddy Road center.

Kristy Lauture, 17, an incoming senior at Manchester High School Central was one of the first three teens to sign up under the teen summer challenge.

"I usually run when I'm mad at something," said Lauture, who would appreciate a free shuttle to the gym.

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June 27, 2018


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