New fitness program opens for teens

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PENHOLD – Local teens now have more opportunities to enjoy recreational activities in Penhold thanks to the Youth Smart Start fitness program.

“This program was introduced in October. We introduced it to give Penhold youth more opportunities,” said Joanne Rutherford, community program coordinator for the Town of Penhold. “It promotes fitness and wellness.”

The program runs out of the Penhold Fitness Centre at the Penhold Regional Multiplex, and is open to youth ages 13 to 17. Participating youth must register and complete a 45-minute orientation before they are able to use the fitness centre without an accompanying adult or parent.

“This gym is very user friendly,” said Rutherford. “We have easy, simple pieces of equipment and that is what we orientate the youth on,” she added, noting they teach gym etiquette, safe fitness practices and discuss fitness plans with youth. She said staff also demonstrates the various types of fitness equipment, including those used for cardio workouts and strength training and conditioning.

“We want to make sure they understand what a healthy workout is,” she said

Completing the orientation lowers the monthly gym membership fee for youth to $20, explained Rutherford.

“That (monthly pass) also includes the drop-in gym activities such as drop-in badminton or drop-in pickleball,” she said. “They have access to the fitness centre but also to the other programs we’ve got here.”

Since the Youth Smart Start program began in October about 30 teens have completed the fitness centre orientation, said Rutherford, noting the positive response to the program. “(Youth) are using the fitness centre, they’re showing that they understand how to use the gym and they’re being respectful in the gym,” she said.

The next orientation for the Youth Smart Start fitness program is Nov. 23 at the multiplex.

“The orientation is offered every month. We need a parent consent and youth need to register and have their forms filled out,” said Rutherford, adding youth who complete the orientation are given a tag to identify them to staff as having finished the orientation. They are then able to use the fitness centre without an accompanying adult or parent.

She said they will be allowed in the gym from the time it opens – 6 a.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday until 7 p.m. in the evening.

“We hope that giving them this opportunity and opening the door for youth gives them the chance to explore a healthy lifestyle,” said Rutherford.

Nancy Kusch, the fitness supervisor at the fitness centre, is thrilled to see more youth using the facility.

“We’re quite excited about having the program. It’s bringing youth into the fitness centre,” said Kusch, noting parents have also been supportive of the program. “I think this is giving youth an option for a healthy life.”

Anyone interested in Youth Smart Start can drop by the Penhold Fitness Centre.

Nancy Kusch, fitness supervisor

“We’re quite excited about having the program. It’s bringing youth into the fitness centre.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.