Girl Power: How Teens Are Changing the Face of Fitness
Teen Fitness 2.0
Fitness-industry experts are realizing that girls who are turned off by traditional athletics can still develop a love of exercise -- so long as it's presented as entertainment. While child- or teen-specific gyms like Underground Fitness are in the minority across the country, YMCAs and other fitness centers are attracting young members with classes and interactive cardio equipment geared toward making exercise feel like anything but work (think Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution). According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, 24 percent of its clubs offer children's exercise programs, and kids ages 6 to 17 are the second-fastest growing demographic of gym-goer, accounting for 4.1 million memberships in 2007. Even corporate America is getting into the game: Goody Products Inc., in concert with a launch of active-teen hair products, has a program pairing sponsored athletes with girls during 5K races.
Parents, too, are understanding the need to encourage fitness in kids, even if it's not the traditional after-school sports team. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 14 to 15 percent of 15-year-olds in the U.S. are overweight, putting them in a high-risk group for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Too many kids are spending their free time in front of a screen-video gaming, iChatting, IM-ing, you name it. Healthier options are in demand.
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