27th March 2018.Gyms are a fixture in places all around the world. Wherever people live, there will be a space for them to gather together in one communal area to share equipment and work on their fitness. From businessmen to teachers and stay-at-home mums and dads, just about every kind of person can be found at a gym at some point during the day. Is this environment good for everyone, though? More specifically, what about teenagers? Do younger people belong in a gym? It can be a tricky question to navigate, especially since gyms aren't typically the kind of place you might consider when you think of teen hangouts. That being said, for those teens who play sports or take an interest in their physical fitness, visiting a gym might offer plenty of benefits, especially if their school lacks the resources for the same kind of workout. Like many things, this is a balancing act, and it could be a better choice for some than others. Let's look at some of the specific pros and cons to consider when a teenager wants to join a gym. Take a moment to consider them yourself, then decide if it's the right move for you.
Pro: It's a focused space for developing fitness
The modern world is absolutely filled with distractions that compete for our attention all day, every day. For teenagers, those distractions are even more numerous ? friends, phones, apps, games, movies, music, and more. It all adds up to a chaotic daily life that can be tough to rein in and exert some focus over at times. For that reason, it's tough for many teens to get enough exercise; it can often feel like simply too many things compete for your attention to be able to put things down and work out for a while. A gym solves that problem by being a space dedicated solely to fitness. You can turn your phone off, hide it in a gym bag, and hit the machines for an hour or two without anything to distract you except the music in your headphones. Here, teens can try to turn away from technology for a little while to focus on fitness. That's not as easy to accomplish at home or even at school.
Con: Gyms often require a costly membership
Money is perhaps the #1 drawback when it comes to considering joining a gym as a teenager: it costs money. Some gyms can even carry hefty membership fees, depending on the type of features they offer. Not every teenager wants to work after school just for the opportunity to spend some of that hard-earned cash on a gym membership, and not every family can afford a membership in the first place. Therefore, this will be a barrier to many of the teens who might otherwise benefit from a gym membership. In some cases, though, using the funds you would spend on a gym membership for some other type of home fitness equipment can be a better investment. It is worth noting that some gyms offer family plans. In these setups, the entire family pays a flat fee for access to the gym. It could be an effective way to save on the cost and make it worthwhile if more than just the teenaged members of the family choose to visit.
Pro: Personal trainers could be a big help
How many teens out there know exactly what type of exercise they need for better health? How many know all the different ways to approach fitness, how to integrate diet into exercise, and how to use proper form while doing all those activities? The answer is "not many" ? and that's not a bad thing. After all, youth is a factor here, and everyone must learn these things at some point. A gym could be the right place for some teens to gain that knowledge. How? With the help of a gym-supplied personal trainer, of course. While this often does translate to an extra expense, many gyms have personal trainers available to help you structure your workout and keep you motivated. When you have no idea about where to start, working with a personal trainer, even on a short-term basis, can be a big boon to your prospects for a healthy future. Take the time to learn how to use the equipment safely and how to distribute your effort among a balanced group of exercises. The result can be a much-enhanced focus on fitness.
Con: Consistent transportation can be an issue
If you're going to pay for a gym membership, the ability to make it to the gym's location is an essential component of making it worthwhile. For some (perhaps even many) teenagers, this will be a challenge. For those who haven't yet earned their license to drive, they'll need to rely on friends or family to get them to their workout. That isn't a recipe for consistency in any sense of the word. In fact, it can make it all too easy to say "maybe tomorrow" and skip a gym session. Without reliable transportation, it may be easier to look for alternative ways to exercise. However, for teens who can drive, this is often less of an issue. If you do not have a busy after school schedule, it may also be no problem to arrange for a quick ride to the gym. Consider transportation carefully before purchasing a membership.
Pro: It's easier to build out a diverse workout
Focusing on one activity or sport is a recipe not only for stagnation but for an uneven approach to fitness. The teenager who just spends their time running or swimming, for example, will eventually hit a plateau where their skills simply don't continue to improve. That's often because other areas of the body aren't receiving the attention they need during the workout. Sometimes, this is a function of lifestyle; other times, it's merely due to a lack of access to the right equipment. Gyms are nothing if not well-equipped, with a vast array of different weight machines, spin machines, and treadmills available at most typical locations. With this level of access, teens can start to experiment with building their own workout routines. It is much easier to round out your workout with this level of diversity, thus reducing the length of time you spend on the plateau in your chosen sport. Rather than focus on how much you can bench press, why not take the time to impress your friends with how much you can squat, or how much you can leg press? Diversity is another good reason why gyms can help teens work towards a lifetime of better fitness.
Con: Not all gyms are very well-equipped
While it would be ideal if every gym featured state of the art equipment, comfortable surroundings, and everything a teen would need to create their fitness program, that's not always the case. Some individuals may live in an area where gyms aren't easily accessible. Those that are present in the area could lack the different equipment you hope to see when you walk into a gym. It could mean that what you want to experience isn't available in your area. Combined with the potential transportation issues and the cost, this "con" could make it very difficult to reach a gym that provides the experience you desire. If gym facilities are already available on your school campus, using them is often a more sensible choice in this scenario. You won't get to use the latest and greatest equipment, but at least it's free and immediately available!
Balance the possibilities to make the right choice
For some teens, your circumstances can align to create a gym-going experience that's exactly what you need for better fitness or stronger sports performance. For others, the expense or the hassle of making it to the gym on a regular basis renders it an exercise in futility. It all comes down to you ? are you the type of person who could benefit from creating a structure for yourself in the gym? Or will you perform better if you focus on at-home exercises, or pursuits such as swimming and running? Weigh the pros and cons for yourself and see where the balance lies! This article was written exclusively for Sports Fitness where you can shop for an array of exercise clothing and accessories to meet all your gym requirements. Follow @SportNessUK