Planet Fitness to offer high schoolers free gym membership

A woman leg lifts at Planet Fitness in the Columbia Mall on July 24, 2017 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. - Mall space is being repurposed as more department store chains close stores that have traditionally served as "anchors" at malls. The Planet Fitn

Planet Fitness is offering high schoolers a chance to work out for free with its new summer program.

The company will launch its "Summer Pass" for teenagers between 14 and 19 years old. The pass is valid from May 16 to August 31. 

Participants will also be automatically entered for a chance to win a $500 scholarship, with one awarded per state. There’s also a $5,000 grand prize scholarship. 

"Our study found that nearly all (92 percent) high school students agreed that when they are regularly physically active, they feel much better mentally," Chris Rondeau, Chief Executive Officer at Planet Fitness, said in a press release. "Fitness is about feeling good, too, and our hope is that High School Summer Pass empowers teens to create life-long workout habits to help them succeed in every aspect of their lives."

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The company cited a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open which stated less than 15% of teens met the 60-minute daily physical activity recommendation during the pandemic. Planet Fitness also conducted its own study that "found that 93 percent of American teens want to stay healthy and active over the summer months, but many lack motivation or access to do so."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said children and adolescents between six and 17 years old need to be active for 60 minutes daily. Activities should include walking, running, doing push-ups, jumping or running. 

The agency said the benefits of exercising could lead to improving attention and memory, reducing the risk of depression and helping to regulate body weight and reduce body fat among other advantages.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.