How Old do You Have to be to Join the Gym? (The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Teenagers)


How old do you have to be to join the gym these days?

We automatically assume that we must be at least 18 years old to join the fitness club, but is that true?

I usually discuss fitness over 40, but I make an exception in this case. Many of us have kids, and wouldn’t it be great to share our passion for a healthy body and mind with them from an early age? My parents didn’t. And I think that’s a shame because weightlifting helps children develop strength, coordination, and healthy eating and exercise routines.

Let’s go through the specifics, so you’ll know what is best for you and your kid.

How Old do You Have to be to Join the Gym?

The general rule of thumb is to go to the gym by yourself from the age of 16-18. Most gyms require minors under 16 to be accompanied by an adult. Make sure to contact your local gym and ask for their age restrictions.

In some countries, it is illegal for someone under 18 to enter a fitness center without parental supervision. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, some gyms allow anyone over 12 to use the facilities. Others offer teen programs, allowing children to work out alone.

Some gyms only allow teens into the designated youth facility area where they can exercise independently. Other gyms enable teens to use the same equipment and facilities as adults.

Still, others require an adult to accompany the child while they work out.


Gym Programs

Many gyms also offer classes and programs specifically designed for teenagers. These classes range from yoga and dance to martial arts and soccer. They might teach kids how to play basketball, swim, or dodgeball.

And some gyms offer summer programs with structured activities and instruction on physical fitness, nutrition, and mental health.

In addition to gym membership, gyms sometimes offer additional benefits such as group fitness classes, personal trainers, a pool, and saunas.

What Gym Features Should You Look For?

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that gyms offer programs designed specifically for kids. These programs are often called youth fitness classes and are typically provided during school hours. They teach children about nutrition, physical activity, and health.
  • Children should be taught how to properly use exercise equipment and follow safe exercise practices. Parents should supervise their children while at the gym. Gyms should provide supervision and instruction regarding the proper use of equipment. This includes providing instructions on how to avoid injury.
  • I think gyms should require a parent’s signature for anyone under 18. A parent must sign for each child participating in the program. 
  • Parents should check out the gym’s policies and procedures regarding insurance coverage. Some gyms don’t cover injuries sustained during workouts.

How About Kid Only Gyms? The Newest Trend?

Fitness centers are becoming kid-friendly places where parents can take their kids during the day while working out themselves.

There are now gyms geared toward kids, including ones that cater specifically to toddlers and preschoolers, called “kid-only gyms.”

These facilities are usually located near schools and offer activities such as yoga, tumbling, climbing, and swimming lessons.

The trend began about five years ago, according to the American Council on Exercise. Kids’ fitness centers started popping up in major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. Still, it wasn’t until recently that they started spreading across the nation.

Child-centered gyms have doubled over the past five years. More than 50 kid-only gyms are operating in the U.S.A alone, according to the ACE. 

Precautions to Take Before Teenagers Start Working Out

Before joining a gym and beginning your new fitness routine, you should consult your doctor about your specific needs. Your doctor may recommend having a physical examination to ensure you are healthy enough to begin working out.

It would be best to discuss any medical conditions affecting your ability to work out safely. Here are some additional precautions and practices to help keep you safe while working out. Not only for our teenagers but for ourselves as well.

  • Always warm up for at least 10 to 15 minutes before starting a workout. This helps prevent injuries such as muscle cramps or soreness.
  • Never do exercises that cause pain; stop immediately if you feel pain during a workout.
  • Exercise slowly and gradually increases your intensity over time. Don’t try to lift weights too quickly.
  • Use proper form/technique when performing lifts. For example, never squat with knees directly above your ankles or use heavy weights without properly supporting them. And make sure to start with body squats when you start training. Later, when you are more experienced, you may add some weight to the exercise.
  • When doing cardio activities like running, cycling, swimming, or elliptical training, wear appropriate clothing to protect against injury. Avoid wearing tight clothing. Wear shoes with cushioned soles and support your feet.
  • Do not perform the heavier exercises alone. Have someone else watch you closely when you add more weight than usual.
  • Try to concentrate more on repetitions with a lower weight until you get stronger.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water during workouts.
  • Cool down for at least five to ten minutes after completing a workout.
  • Get regular checkups with your physician.

As long as you’re following these precautions, you’ll be fine. But keep in mind that there are certain things you can do to improve your odds of avoiding injuries. For example, you can increase your flexibility by stretching regularly.

Also, avoid sudden movements like running full speed or jumping off boxes. Instead, walk slowly and gradually, building your strength, technique, and speed.

How About Gym-Provided Sitters?

If you’re looking for a way to keep your child entertained while you work out, check out those gyms that provide sitter services. These are typically offered as part of your gym membership, though some might charge additional fees.

The benefits of hiring a sitter include focusing solely on working out without worrying about your child and getting a break during your workout.

If you don’t want to pay extra for a sitter, most gyms allow you to bring your own nanny or hire one yourself. Depending on how much it costs to hire someone, this could save you money.

It’s important to know exactly what the rules are at your local gym. While some gyms require you to sign up for a babysitter package, others charge a small fee per child. Some even allow parents to drop off their kids without paying extra.

If you use a babysitter, ensure you understand what’s expected of you.

Are there any rules about age limits or supervision?

What kind of activities takes place in the room?

Is there a pool or playground nearby?

And finally, always check with the facility manager to ensure everything is being done correctly.


How does Weight Training Affect a Teenager’s Body?

Teenagers are not uncommonly interested in improving their physical condition and making healthy lifestyle choices. However, they may also be curious about lifting weights and how it could affect their growth.

Also, parents often worry about strength training during the teen years because they believe it can negatively impact growth.

While research shows that strength training does not cause any negative effects on growth, it is important to understand what these studies show.

In addition, it is essential to know if strength training is appropriate for teens.

I will summarize it for you:

  • Despite the traditional concerns that strength exercise may inhibit skeletal development and maturation, this stage of life is an ideal time to improve bone mass through strength exercises. Strength exercises don’t damage the growth plate of bones or restrict teenagers’ overall growth.
  • Strength training helps improve muscular strength, power, running speeds, change-of-direction speeds, and overall physical performance in teenagers. It also reduces the likelihood of injuries during sports participation.
  • Research has shown that weight lifting helps improve overall physical fitness, reduces obesity, improves glucose metabolism in overweight teenagers, improves cardiovascular function in obese teenagers, and improves bone mineralization in obese adolescents.
  • Kids who had positive early experiences with exercising in the gym were much more likely to be physically active throughout their lives and may have improved long-term health and wellness.
  • Adolescents who have been relatively inactive before may need close supervision and spend longer doing simple exercises and introductory training.
  • As with any physical activity, the main focus must be a good technique when performing exercises.
  • All four types of resistance training (body weights, free weights, machines, and elastic bands) have all been found effective for strengthening muscles in teenagers. Using dumbbells for your training will activate more muscles than when you use machines. 
  • If you’re an inexperienced teenager, start out with lower volumes (1-2 sets) and lighter weights (less than 60% of your one-repetition maximum [1RM]). For multi-joint exercises, perform fewer reps (1-3 reps) with proper form and guidance from a coach.
  • If teenagers don’t engage in regular resistance exercise, they’re more likely to develop injury risks later in their lives. 
  • Resistance exercise can help people feel better physically and mentally.

In short, resistance training does not slow adolescent bone growth but improves their strength and muscle mass. It also helps them develop better self-esteem and confidence.

FAQ’S Corner

Is Strength Training Healthy  For Teenagers?

Strength exercises are safe and beneficial for children. Contrary to common belief, strength exercises do not stunt a child’s growth; they can strengthen muscles, increase endurance, and improve physical activity levels.

They also make children more likely to keep exercising as they get older. Strength exercises can boost a child’s running speed and jumping abilities, and they are more inclined to stay fit as they grow up.

When Should A Child Start Strength Training?

For kids too young to lift weights, focus on bodyweight training and pyrometry during their pre-pubertal stage. They will have a solid base to begin lifting weights once they reach puberty.


To wrap this up. Strength training is an excellent activity for teens because it builds muscle mass, improves bone density, strengthens tendons, and increases flexibility.

Not only does it improve physical appearance, but it also helps build self-confidence and self-esteem.

You see, there are quite some benefits to starting your fitness journey at a young age.

My 14-year-old son has been attending the local fitness club for three months. He exercises two times per week, and he really enjoys it. After only three months of joining the gym, he feels more confident and has developed better posture and physique.

Besides, I enjoy working out with him as well. It’s a win-win situation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this somewhat different topic I usually write about.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

Stay Healthy and Strong!




Meet Ezra, a former model and actor turned founder of GymTrends365. His no-BS approach to fitness helps men over 40 achieve their best shape. Ezra believes in empowering individuals to take control of their health and fitness through practical, sustainable methods. At GymTrends365, he's committed to providing the resources and support necessary to help everyone achieve their fitness goals.