Because the uptick in interest was in strength-training, that became the focus of an 8-week program for teens. “We try to meet people where they are,” says Kyle Giffen, Director of Fitness & Healthy Living of Madison Area YMCA. “It’s better to teach them what they’re interested in.” Each session focuses on a different kind of lift. Training is adapted to fit abilities; for example: kettlebells for younger teens and barbells for older kids. The first five minutes of each class is dedicated to educating teenagers about an industry topic, such as the truth about supplements, before moving on to hands-on education.
According to Madison Area YMCA’s Kyle Giffen, there are three main steps to creating a successful youth training program.
1. Meet teens where they are. Program around their interests. “Teens may not feel like they fit or belong at a typical gym,” Giffen says. “It’s important to us to show that we mean it when we say this is for everyone.”
2. Educate them. “We show kids the proper technique, the reason for the lift, how they should be doing it and helpful [tips]. If we want to build a strong foundation with teens that they can build upon, this is a good start.”
3. Make it fun. “We try not to talk too much,” Giffen says. “We want them to tell their friends about it.” In addition to hands-on training, the program features charismatic instructors who can create enduring relationships.