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In the past, health club owners have typically focused their teen programs on sports-specific training, but to capitalize on revenue opportunities within the trend of teens pursuing muscles, the health club industry should focus on teens not interested in sports and those who are overweight, some exercise researchers say.
Strength training often is marketed to adults and seniors in health clubs, but today's teenagers are in hot pursuit of stronger, buffer bodies, which may offer a new market for this type of programming within clubs.
A report published in the November issue of Pediatrics found that 91 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls among the 2,793 middle and high school-aged children surveyed were exercising more to get a more toned body. Sixty-eight percent of boys and 62 percent of girls had changed their eating habits, and 35 percent of boys and 21 percent of girls had used protein powders or shakes in pursuit of more muscles. Six percent of boys and 5 percent of girls had used steroids.
"Youth programming is one of the fastest-growing trends in the strength industry," says Avery Faigenbaum, a professor of exercise science at The College of New Jersey.
In the past, health club owners have typically focused their teen programs on sports-specific training, but to capitalize on revenue opportunities within this pursuit of more muscles, the health club industry should focus on teens not interested in sports and those who are overweight, say some exercise scientists.
"Obese or nonathletic children often do not like cardio-based activities," says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist and vice president of educational services for the American Council on Exercise. These two groups have been more successful using weights, he adds.
"They're able to experience a 'win' for themselves and feel strong," he says. "It can then serve as a basis for them to do other kinds of activities."
By drawing in these two groups of teens, club operators can earn a new client—or a whole family of clients—for life, all without a great deal of sophisticated equipment or investment.