Posted on May 16, 2022 at 2:26 PM by West Side Rag
By Scott Etkin
Teens in the Upper West Side can exercise for free at Planet Fitness gyms this summer. The chain is national High school summer pass program aims to provide a way for children to stay active when school sports programs and after-school activities are closed. It runs from today, May 16 to August 31.
“Especially here in New York City, when you see the violence, the gun violence on TV, in the news every day, it’s a great safe way to keep kids occupied in those summer months when they’re not in school,” Dale Paden said. , Vice President of Marketing at a group that operates 80 Planet Fitness clubs in four states.
The program debuted in 2019, but was skipped for the past two years due to the pandemic.
The closest Planet Fitness gyms to the UWS are at 55e Street between 9e and 10e Avenues, and 125e Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. boulevards. In 2019, 278 teens took part in the 55e Street location and 1,035 entered 125e Street.
The program is open to teens ages 14-19 and uses Planet Fitness’ website and app, as teens often prefer digital options. Teens can sign up online and their parent/guardian can also provide consent through the website, which is required for children under the age of 18. “It’s clearly 2022 and that generation is very online focused,” Dale says. “So we try to make it as easy as possible for them.”
How familiar each teen is with using exercise equipment varies, Dale said. To help newbies, each workout machine has a QR code that teens can scan to display an instructional video.
“With that demographic, they’re on TikTok all day, they’re on Snapchat all day, so having the PF app in your pocket with the ability to see workouts and learn new techniques is really useful,” said he.
Trainers in the gyms are also available to give free tips. “Each location has at least one certified trainer on staff,” Dale said. “They’re always on the floor. The teens can ask any staff member or trainer how to use the equipment.”
The program also aims to address physical and mental health issues in teens. The rates of teenage obesity and depression have increased in recent years. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, less than 15 percent of teens met the recommended amount of 60 minutes of physical activity per day during the pandemic. Planet Fitness suggests that a healthy commitment to fitness could improve these trends.
Dale said an influx of teens is not expected to disrupt the experience of existing Planet Fitness members. the 55e Street and 125e Street locations are among the two largest spaces, he said. Before hitting the gym, members can check how busy they are with the Planet Fitness app.
All Planet Fitness gyms have basically the same equipment, so members will have a similar experience no matter which gym they choose. the 55e and 125e Street locations are both open seven days a week, but the Harlem location is unique in that it is open 24 hours a day.
“I hope teens aren’t too late,” he laughed. “But it is a nice perk.”