Gym program allows teens to workout for free this summer

Planet Fitness is offering teenagers free memberships this summer to combat teenage mental health issues, and obesity.
Published: May. 13, 2023 at 12:20 AM EDT
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A lot of people want to get in shape and stay in shape for the summer. Now, teenagers can do it for free.

Exercising regularly is great for your physical health. But what you might not realize, is that it helps your mental health too.

“It produces endorphins after your workout, which are essentially the feel good hormones that we produce in our brain,” Alyssa Latham said, Fitness Support Manager at the Maryville Planet Fitness.

A study by Planet Fitness found that 61% of teens nationally face mental health struggles, and 73% of parents are concerned about their teen’s mental health struggles.

“A lot of people fail to realize just how much exercise, or just moving your body in general, can impact the way you look at your day, the way you view yourself, the way you view other people,” Latham said.

Planet Fitness has a deal for teens this summer. It’s a free membership for kids age 14 to 19. The program starts on Monday, May 15, and runs through the end of August.

Ahna Warwick started going to the gym last year because of the free program, and thinks it makes a difference.

“I think the gym really helps people with their mental health,” the 15-year-old said. “I’ve seen people be really sad and depressed. And then they come to the gym, they make new friends here, they meet people, and they become a healthier and better self.”

The program is also targeting childhood obesity. A report by the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health found that almost 1 in 5 teenagers in Tennessee are overweight. Warwick said it’s important to start practicing those healthier habits from a younger age.

“You learn to be more self aware, and more healthy with yourself as you grow up,” Warwick said.

Latham said they want teens to enjoy exercising, and hopefully stick with it past the summer.

Trainers from the Maryville Planet Fitness said 170 teens have already pre-registered for the free program, and they expect that number to grow in the coming weeks. Teenagers can get a membership at any point during the summer.