Beaches and benches


Senior Lucy Pappa snaps a picture of herself at Planet Fitness. Pappa is apart of Planet Fitness’ summer teen program.


When school ends and summer begins, students find themselves with a lot of free time for vacationing, relaxing and pursuing activities they would not have time for during a busy school year. On top of all these new activities, students may want to continue, or begin, their fitness journeys. 

“Going to the gym has motivated me to work out and keep physically active,” Lucy Pappa, a senior and Planet Fitness member, said. “I got the membership because Planet Fitness was doing a free summer program for teens. I plan on getting a paying membership once that offer expires.”

From May 15 through September 1, Planet Fitness offers a free membership program for teenagers age 15-18 as part of their nationwide Teen Summer Challenge initiative. The gym also offers free fitness classes specifically for teenagers as a part of the program. The initiative does not just end there, however. Teens who enter the program are automatically entered and have a chance to win the Planet Fitness Scholarship Sweepstakes. For the sweepstakes, 51 teens from across the country will be randomly selected for a $500 scholarship and one teen even has the chance to win a $5,000 grand prize. 

“We want to give teens across the United States the chance to stay active when school is out – a time when they may not otherwise have access to organized fitness or athletic programs, which is why we’re offering a safe space to exercise for free and spend time with their friends all summer long,” Said Chris Rondeau, Chief Executive Officer at Planet Fitness, on the Planet Fitness website.

A gym more popular among teens in Arlington, however, is Gold’s Gym. It is not free for teens like Planet Fitness but instead costs around $40 per month, like the YMCA gym. Senior Sam Hollans attends the gym seven days a week and year round. 

“The gym has been a great source of stress relief, and has added more discipline and purpose in my life,” Hollans said.

Teenagers also have the option of not going to the gym at all and simply working out at home. 

“I don’t actually belong to a gym, I just exercise on my own,” Kelly Mcardle, a senior at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, said. “I just watch YouTube videos that are 10 or 15 minutes long. For me, I don’t think getting a membership is worth it, I think I’m fine working out on my own.”

Mcardle, however, did attend Gold’s Gym for a week with her close friends as a fun “best friends workout” week activity.

“I did more workouts than I would normally do because there were more machines; it was more programmed than what I would normally do. There was just so many people there…it was intense,” Mcardle said. “I felt like I was supposed to be pushing myself a lot harder and working out a lot more than I actually was.”

One of those friends is senior Lia Adams, a student at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, who got a membership after Hollans persuaded her to join. She attends three to four times a week. She also takes workout supplements with Hollans, which students can take to enhance their gym experience  over the summer.

“The supplements I took with Sam [Hollans] were like the equivalent of two cups of coffee in ten seconds, and my entire body was shaking, my face was twitching a little bit,” Adams said. “At the gym I lifted way more than I’ve ever been able to lift before; it was kind of scary.” 

There are several gym supplements that one can take to enhance their performance and abilities. Hollans takes pre-workout, creatine and joint supplements.

“The pre-workout has helped me push harder during workouts, the creatine has helped with my recovery and growth, and the joint supplements have helped me with the inflammation and pain I get in my back and shoulder,” Hollans said. 

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), certain supplements are safe for teens to use in regards to exercise, such as protein shakes and multivitamins. However, they are not necessary for teenagers to achieve athletic success, seeing as they can get the same nutrients from simply eating right. 

“Most teens just need to eat better but many can benefit from supplements if safe and guided appropriately by a coach,” Jeremiah Forster, an NASM Elite Trainer said on “Parents should hire a coach for their teens and have that coach show them how to exercise and eat well for their particular goals. Supplements for teens are fine but not needed.”

Exercise has great benefits physically and mentally, and can be good for managing stress, something a lot of teenagers struggle with. No matter how teenagers choose to exercise throughout the summer, Arlington offers a lot of opportunities for them to stay fit and healthy. 

“I couldn’t be more thankful to Sam [Hollans] for pushing me to go to the gym. To me, fitness isn’t just about weight loss or muscle gain,” Adams said. “Going to the gym not only changed me physically but it changed me mentally. I feel happier, healthier, tougher, and better.”