YMCA's teen fitness center

October 6, 2008 4:40:54 AM PDT
Many children would benefit from going to a gym, but most clubs are for adults only. Now, the YMCA has opened a teen fitness center in New York. It is one of the first in the area.It's an interactive haven for teens, where they can dance, peddle, pump and jump their way to good health.

"It's 10 times better than phys-ed at school," 16-year-old Steven Russo said. "It offers a lot of workouts and chances to get in good shape."

"All your friends you know in school, they come here," 15-year-old Kevin Krause said. "They work out. It's a friendly environment."

The YMCA's teen fitness center is on Staten Island. Adults work out upstairs, kids down below.

"Upstairs is bigger, and I feel there are more people are looking at you," 15-year-old Nicole Coin said. "And down here, there are people my age and I don't feel like everyone is staring."

The teens can use standard machines or enter the virtual world and get fit with games like Dance Dance Revolution and Cyber Trazer. Treadmills and bikes are also equipped with cardio theater. There's also a place for them to hang out. Since the center opened in April, teen membership has increased by 30 percent

"Because it such a unique atmosphere, some kids aren't really cut out or interested in doing gym sports," the YMCA's Erika Rautenstrauch said. "This is social for them. They can meet different kids across the island, not just in school."

Some of the circuit machines are even tailored to fit teen bodies. They're smaller than conventional equipment and have bands rather than weights to reduce wear and tear.

The center has made a difference in Matt Conroy's physical health. He's lost 50 pounds since joining in April.

"The trainers are very encouraging to help you lose the weight," the 15-year-old said. "When I came here, it helped me a lot."

"It's not just about their physical fitness," Rautenstrauch said. "We want to facilitate good social skills as well, and this is the perfect place for it."

Membership for teens is $22 dollars a month. A family membership is $87. And if money is an issue, the YMCA says it never turns anyone away and will provide financial assistance.

For more information on the center, visit YMCANYC.org. For more information on the financial assistance program, CLICK HERE.

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