By SÍLE MOLONEY
Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest-growing gym franchises according to its owners, is inviting high schoolers aged 14 to 19* to work out for free at any of its more than 2,200 Planet Fitness locations throughout the United States and Canada from May 16 through August 31, as part of the High School Summer Pass initiative, with the aim of improving teen mental and physical health.
A new study commissioned by Planet Fitness found that while almost half (48 Percent) of American teens admit they struggled with mental health for the first time ever during the pandemic, nearly all (92 percent) agree regular physical activity helps them feel much better mentally.
High School Summer Pass was formally known as Teen Summer Challenge, which was the first program of its kind launched in 2019 and saw more than 900,000 teens sign-up and complete more than 5.5 million workouts over a three-and-a-half-month period. Starting today, high schoolers can visit PlanetFitness.com/SummerPass to pre-register, and get a reminder to formally sign up when the program officially kicks off on Monday, May 16. Teens under 18 must register with a parent or guardian online or in-club.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, less than 15 percent of teens met the 60-minute daily physical activity recommendation during the pandemic.**
A national study*** commissioned by Planet Fitness found that 93 percent of American teens want to stay healthy and active over the summer months, but many lack motivation or access to do so. High School Summer Pass offers a solution for teenagers eager to stay active when school sports programs, gym classes and after school activities wind down.
Chris Rondeau, chief executive officer at Planet Fitness, said in the context of the summer program, “As the leader in fitness, we believe we have a responsibility to provide a welcoming, safe, and judgement-free environment for high school students to improve their physical and mental wellness, particularly given the challenges they have and continue to face in the wake of the pandemic.”
Rondeau added, “Our study found that nearly all (92 percent) high school students agreed that when they are regularly physically active, they feel much better mentally. Fitness is about feeling good, too, and our hope is that High School Summer Pass empowers teens to create life-long workout habits to help them succeed in every aspect of their lives.”
To further motivate high schoolers to make fitness a priority, all participants who sign up starting May 16 are automatically entered into The Planet Fitness High School Summer Pass Sweepstakes. Planet Fitness will award one $500 scholarship in each state (and the District of Columbia), and one grand prize, a $5,000 scholarship, at the end of the summer****.
These scholarships can be used for academic or athletic activities or programs.
Insight Into Teen Health & Fitness
To uncover how high schoolers view health and fitness today, Planet Fitness commissioned a national study in partnership with Material to shed light on mental and physical health from both teens’ and parents’ perspectives. Although negatively impacted by the pandemic, the study found that teens are ready to make a commitment to getting healthy, both physically and mentally.
Key findings included the following:
- Physical Fitness for the Win. Despite three in five teens (60 percent) reporting their usual health and fitness routines were severely disrupted over the last two years, nearly all (89 percent) of their parents credit regular exercise and physical activity as helping their teens cope with the challenges of the pandemic. Nearly all (92 percent) teens agree that when they are regularly physically active, they feel much better mentally.
- Although many teens make exercise and fitness a priority in their life (65 percent), there are significant barriers to doing so. In fact, 78 percent of teens note that just having access to a place to work out and being able to do so with friends (72 percent) would benefit their health and fitness journeys.
- A majority of teens who exercise also agree that physical fitness makes them feel healthier (61 percent), stronger (57 percent) and happier (50 percent). It also provides the meaningful health benefits of more energy (69 percent), increased strength (64 percent) and stress relief (61 percent).
- And 84 percent of teens agree that there has never been a better time than now to focus on their health.
- Mental Health Takes Center Stage. Almost half (48 percent) of teens admit that they struggled with mental health for the first time during the pandemic. And more than half (51 percent) explain they currently struggle with anxiety.
- Parents are overwhelmingly concerned about how the past two years have impacted their teens’ mental health (71 percent), overall health (66 percent) and physical fitness (60 percent). And 71 percent are equally concerned for their high schooler’s academic progress and preparedness for college.
- That said, more than four in five teens report they are feeling hopeful about what’s to come in the future (85 percent) and that the pandemic showed them how strong they really are (82 percent).
- Let’s Get Talking. Parents have overwhelmingly spoken more regularly to their teens over the past two years about topics like self-esteem and confidence (92 percent), exercise and working out (88 percent) and mental health (82 percent). The majority of teens today also say they are now more open and communicative about their feelings (79 percent).
- Screen Time, More Time. A majority of parents (55 percent) also report the time their teens spends on social media has increased since the start of the pandemic. In fact, many parents feel their teens are spending more time being sedentary than active – 54 percent noted their teens text more today, 52 percent saw an uptick in playing video games and 50 percent of parents say their teen is spending more time watching TV.
- And more teens agree they spend too much time in front of screens than they did right before the pandemic (61 percent in 2022 versus 52 percent in 2020).
A Safe, Clean and Welcoming Environment to Get Moving
In addition to free, in-club fitness training that all High School Summer Pass participants will have access to, the certified trainers at Planet Fitness have also designed 15 trainer-led workout videos and 10 downloadable workouts – encompassing cardio, strength, toning and sports circuits – just for high schoolers (across all fitness levels). This content will be available on the Planet Fitness App and at PlanetFitness.com/SummerPass starting May 16.
This summer and all year-round, Planet Fitness’ top priority continues to be keeping its members and employees safe and is the first fitness brand to receive the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The rating recognizes Planet Fitness’ leadership in adopting the leading framework to ensure a safer and healthier environment for its employees and members across all of its more than 2,200 facilities.
Enhanced COVID-19 safety and sanitization protocols at its well-ventilated and spacious clubs include:
- Touchless check-in via the free Planet Fitness App – available to all High School Summer Pass participants
- A Crowd Meter on the Planet Fitness App that allows members to check club capacity in real-time before even leaving the house
- Increased sanitization to continually clean and sanitize high-touch areas, with cleaning stations available for member use
- Mask policies in accordance with local guidelines
For more information on High School Summer Pass, including how to sign up for the free membership at any of the more than 2,200 Planet Fitness locations nationwide, visit PlanetFitness.com/SummerPass.
As reported by Norwood News, the “Saturday Night Lights” program opens up New York City school gyms on Saturday nights and provides a free space for youth to socialize and play sports, and forms part of the mayor’s blueprint to end gun violence in New York City.
*Teenagers ages 14 – 19 can visit any Planet Fitness location in the United States. Teens must work out at the location they sign up at and are not permitted to use other locations. Teens under 18 must sign-up with a parent or guardian in-club or online at PlanetFitness.com/SummerPass. Once the parent or guardian waiver is signed for teens under 18, teens can work out alone. Students who are already 18 do not need a parent or guardian to be present during the sign-up process.
** Association of Children’s Physical Activity and Screen Time With Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic, JAMA Network Open
*** Online survey conducted by Material to 1,012 nationally representative American teens aged 15 – 18 and their parents, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
****No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., who are 14-19 years of age (with parent approval if under age of majority). Begins 12:00 am ET on 5/16/22; ends 11:59 pm ET on 8/31/22. For Official Rules, visit PlanetFitness.com/sweepstakes-rules.
Free Gym Access Throughout the Summer for Youth at Planet Fitness