The Dos and Don'ts of Bringing Teens to the Gym

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Teenagers may want to join a gym for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to get fit, while others are image-conscious. If your teenager wants to join you at the gym, you may applaud them for making a positive choice for their health and wellness. However, before bringing a teenager to a fitness center, consider these dos and don'ts to ensure it's a positive experience for them.

Do Let Your Teenager Lead the Way

Most teenagers will be more motivated to work out when they are allowed to choose the types of exercises they enjoy. They want to feel in control of some aspects of their lives, so give them the ability to control how they engage with physical activity. 

If your teenager is interested in the gym, offer them the full list of activities that are available and let them choose what they want to do. If your fitness center offers yoga and cycling classes, some teens may gravitate to those, while others will want to do solo workouts on cardio equipment.

Don't Use Exercise as Punishment

An infamous scene from the horror movie "Carrie" shows the P.E. teacher punishing the mean girls by putting them through grueling workouts. Never try the same methods for your teens. The goal should be for teenagers to find the joy in exercise and make it a fun part of their daily life. If they dread it or see it as a negative thing, teens may develop a negative view of working out that can cause them to avoid it. 

Do Hire a Personal Trainer for Your Teen's Initial Visit

Although hiring a personal trainer for ongoing support may be too expensive, it's a good idea to hire a personal trainer to work with your teenager during their first visit to the gym. Just let the personal trainer know in advance that this will be a one-time session and request that they show your teenager the proper way to use all the workout equipment in the gym. 

Don't Complain About Going to the Gym

Your teens are watching and observing your own attitude about exercise. If you treat going to the gym as a chore, they may adopt that attitude and soon lose interest in going. Instead, talk about all the benefits you receive from going to the gym and talk to teens about your favorite things to do at the fitness center. If you need to complain, call a friend to bemoan the difficulty of your workout when your teen isn't within earshot. 

Finally, encourage teens and offer them plenty of positive reinforcement for their efforts to better themselves at the fitness facility. Although teens may not show how much they appreciate and crave parental approval, your encouragement can instill confidence and self-love in your teenager. Be consistent and cheer your teen on as they explore which workouts and sports are a good fit for them.