Teen Summer Challenge: Planet Fitness and Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Planet Fitness is one of the largest and fastest-growing franchisors and operators of fitness centers with more than 2,000 locations. Home of the Judgement Free Zone®, Planet Fitness provides affordable, high-quality fitness in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment – driving its overarching corporate social responsibility of “creating a healthier world,” through both physical and emotional wellness.
Gen Z, those born between 1995-2005, now represents the single largest population segment in the U.S. with 86.4M individuals. Yet many Gen Zers are attached to devices and not getting enough exercise, according to recent physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
To better understand the need, Planet Fitness commissioned an independent, national study to learn how teens and parents felt about health and wellness and how to motivate them. The survey revealed that nearly half of teens surveyed (41%) said their fitness levels dramatically decrease over the summer when school is out and they don’t have the same access to recess or school sports. However, according to the survey, the decrease in activity is not due to lack of interest.
Nearly all (91%) teens surveyed said they want to stay healthy and active over the summer and rated their interest in spending their free time being active (35%) higher than playing video games (27%), browsing social media (16%) or watching TV (16%). Yet 39% said they don’t have enough guidance on how to exercise or where to start. This also impacts their emotional wellbeing as teens who exercise noted they feel more confident (47%), happier (43%), less stressed (37%) and less anxious (24%) overall.
To help teens get moving and get the physical activity they need during the summer, Planet Fitness launched the Teen Summer Challenge – a movement that invited teens ages 15-18 to work out for free all summer long at Planet Fitness locations in the U.S. and Canada. The program would provide youth an opportunity to incorporate regular exercise into their lifestyles for potentially the first time while on summer break and would serve as a stepping- stone for teens to be healthier and happier.
As Planet Fitness developed the strategy and planning for the Teen Summer Challenge, the team explored the potential for a signature charity partner to support or benefit from a program like this directly. However, upon further consideration, the Planet Fitness team realized the best way to maximize the brand’s social impact was really to open their doors for free to all teens, rather than to only benefit a specific program, sub-set population of Gen Z, or to donate a portion of fees to charity. Upon consideration of Planet Fitness’ business interest around connecting more deeply with Gen Z in total, and the research confirming that all young people would benefit from free access to fitness in the summer months, it became clear that the company’s own assets – its gyms – would be the focal point for contributing the greatest social good.
That said, Planet Fitness has strong roots as a charitable corporate citizen and understands that teens from low-income households have increased risk of being sedentary, due to a lack of access to fitness, costs associated with sports or other fitness activities, as well as other barriers. Given this, Planet Fitness also wanted to ensure that the program reached teens with the greatest need. To make sure the program reached this audience, Planet Fitness turned to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), the company’s signature partner for its philanthropic initiative – the Judgement Free Generation®.
BGCA serves millions of youth across the country, and the majority of its members are minorities and the majority are from low-income households. By communicating with Boys & Girls Club staff and leadership about the Teen Summer Challenge, Planet Fitness could reach their teen member base and provide access to even more youth in need, while BGCA could deliver on their own objectives to increase physical health and wellness of members. While Planet Fitness and BGCA had made great strides in enhancing emotional wellness for their teens, it was an open and mutually beneficial opportunity to collaborate on enhancing physical wellness at the same time.
Planet Fitness deployed a national and local marketing campaign to guarantee reach to teens and parents, while also creating a suite of marketing communications assets for franchisees to leverage locally and regionally.
Given 39% of teens said that they don’t have enough guidance on how to exercise or know where to start, Planet Fitness trainers developed a workout tailored for them. It was purposefully centered on appropriate cardio, strength and flexibility exercises, providing a blend for impactful activity that could be modified based on ability. The certified trainers led free group fitness sessions exclusively for teens all summer to provide additional tools and inspiration to help them build healthy habits.
As a result, more than 925K teens aged 15–18 participated in the Teen Summer Challenge, achieving 5.4% teen market penetration. The campaign attracted 75% of teen participants from new Planet Fitness households and averaged 491 total new teen prospects per Planet Fitness club.
In addition, according to a survey of participants, 68% of teens intended to join (or already had) Planet Fitness and 99% of teen participants surveyed would recommend the Teen Summer Challenge.