Local gym launches new teen initiative

NASHUA – As schools let out for summer vacation, officials with Planet Fitness took it upon themselves to encourage teens to stay active.

The franchise launched a statewide summer initiative this week: the “Teen Summer Challenge,” aiming to get teens off the couch and their devices, and to stay active this summer.

Headquartered in Hampton, Planet Fitness launched the initiative Tuesday. It allows those ages 15 through 18 to work out for free at all company locations across New Hampshire through Sept. 1. All program participants will be eligible to win one of four $2,500 scholarships at the end of the summer, which can be used for academic or physical fitness activities.

“Many teens may not have visited a workout facility before, and this initiative gives them the opportunity to incorporate regular exercise into their daily lifestyles for potentially the first time, while on summer break,” Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said. “This program is a stepping stone for teens to be healthier and happier and what better place to do so than in our welcoming, non-intimidating, judgment-free atmosphere.”

Gov. Chris Sununu also voiced enthusiasm over this initiative saying it will benefit thousands of teens throughout the state.

“Finding a safe and welcoming place to be active is a problem that many parents and teens face every summer,” Sununu said. “We are grateful to Planet Fitness for launching this exciting initiative right here in its home state of New Hampshire, and for stepping up to provide a solution without being asked.”

In 2015, more than one in four New Hampshire high school students were overweight or obese. However, being active and staying healthy is about more than just weight. Exercise doesn’t only reduce teens’ risk of developing certain conditions later on, such as high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes, but also increases self-esteem and body positivity.

“In partnership with the state’s Obesity Prevention Program, this will help teens set out on the right path, developing healthy habits, like exercising frequently, at an early age,” Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said. “This program will help with more than physical health; because exercise boosts self-esteem, the program will also help increase teens’ confidence across the state.”

Teens can sign up for the program at any Planet Fitness locations across the state, while those 15 to 17-years-old will need a parent or guardian to accompany them the first time to sign a waiver.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart