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Teenage gym craze

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Vira Patil Nov. 9, 2023


A growing trend across grade levels, students at the school have started going to the gym on a regular basis to maintain their health. For many highschoolers, the increase of several “gym influencers” has encouraged them to begin a gym journey that greatly impacted their diet, lifestyle, academics and mental health. Teenagers divide the week into leg day, arm day and core day to make their fitness journey a priority from a young age.


Peter Yoon art

The increase in teenagers consistently going to the gym can be attributed to influences from social media and the health benefits of a consistent workout routine. Teenage fitness enthusiasts go to the gym on an average of four times a week to achieve their fitness goals specific to their lifestyle, states KidsHealth. For example, wrestlers focus heavily on weight training, and runners focus mainly on cardio-related exercises. One influencer that promotes gymming is Michelle Lewin—a model, bodybuilder and fitness influencer on platforms such as Youtube, Tik Tok and Instagram. Lewin has accumulated a following of 15.3 million people. Another influencer is Simeon Panda who amassed over 8.2 million followers due to his prominence in the bodybuilding world after he won the European championships in 2013.


“I started regularly going to the gym two years ago and continue to go for the majority of the days in a week. I feel motivated to lift heavy weights and consume as much protein as possible to gain strength so I can improve my skills in wrestling. Before wrestling season, I consume 5 high protein meals a day, but I do not track the calories,” Junior Nobuhisa Ishiguro said.

On social media, several gym influencers have grown their presence considerably. For example, influencers such as Jennifer Selter and Bradley Martyn promote their workout routines and occasionally offer private specialized training. This has encouraged several students to adopt a gym-centered lifestyle. Junior Sophia Noelle Neubert regularly attends the local gym after school at least five or six times a week. She makes sure that regardless of her schedule, she makes time for workout. Neubert believes that going to the gym builds a strong work ethic and gives her motivation to work hard. Her primary motivation to attend the gym regularly is to maintain peak physical condition.

“The gym can build a lot of discipline as you create your own routine, meaning you have to try various things that you might fail at or see no progress over a long period of time,” Neubert said.

While Sophia was not influenced by social media to begin attending the gym, several other high schoolers were. Neubert believes that social media lures many teens into the gym, but not all.


Additionally, according to the CDC, constantly working out can reduce health risks, strengthen bones and increase muscle mass. Exercising on a regular basis can also improve self discipline by teaching one to stay focused on achievable goals and get into healthy habits. Furthermore, a poll by the National Library of Medicine illustrates that teenagers responded quickly and with greater accuracy to a variety of cognitive tasks such as inductive reasoning and processing language after engaging in physical activity.


According to Senior Vishal Makaram, going to the gym has made him a stronger athlete and more disciplined. During the off season, Makaram attends the gym regularly to be fit for the spring swim season. He explains that letting his energy out at the gym helps him focus when studying and complete his work on time.


However, some students may struggle more with managing their academic work while working hard to achieve their dream physique. For example, students taking several AP classes or applying to colleges may not have enough time or energy to go to the gym. Ishiguro successfully manages his time with school work while attending the gym several days a week, but describes that it can be difficult at times.

“Sometimes spending hours at the gym on a daily basis can be very mentally exhausting since it is very time consuming and difficult to balance with AP classes, but it is worth it to me personally because I physically feel more energized and more stronger. Gaining more strength has improved my self esteem and given me a daily activity to commit to,” Ishiguro said.
“I have a way more productive lifestyle than I did before I started going to the gym. I am able to focus and feel better about myself. Going to the gym has also improved my mental health because it creates structure in my life and keeps me healthy both mentally and physically,” Makaram said.

Regular gym habits can also lead to an increase in confidence due to positive body perception. The American Health Association states that exercise can produce brain chemicals that which can lead to feelings of happiness and confidence. Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that exercising can alleviate depression and anxiety and boost one’s overall mood.

“Going to the gym improves my mental health and clears my mind. I love the way I feel more productive, and I am able to focus on my other priorities after the workout is done like my school assignments,” Junior Alexa Friz said.

Although attending the gym on a regular basis can help students lead a healthy and productive lifestyle, unhealthy gym habits may harm students. According to The New York Times, people may pick up dangerously heavy weights that can cause injury when they try to mimic an online fitness enthusiast. Moreover, to improve their performance, several gym enthusiasts adopt diets that may not be nutritious or healthy in an attempt to bulk or cut. Bulking is a process to increase muscle mass and gain weight by eating high protein foods to help athletes quickly gain muscle, while cutting is when athletes follow a calorie deficit, in order to lose fat, while only eating high protein foods. However, These diets can have an excess of protein and low carbohydrate levels, describes Healthline. They These diets also can lead to metabolic burden on the bones, kidneys and liver as stated by the National Institute of Health (NIH). For teenagers whose bodies are still developing, these diets are potentially harmful if done excessively.


“I used to consume regular energy drinks, pre- workout, protein powder and creatine to improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass. While I have stopped taking these, I know many who are avid fans of these products,” Neubert said.

Additionally, gym culture idealization can cause participants to have improbable expectations about their appearances, resulting in body insecurity according to the NIH. This problem is exacerbated by social media fitness influencers who boast unrealistic appearances to increase views. For example, students may begin to compare themselves to others when working out, potentially causing feelings of insecurity, according to ACE Fitness. Interactions with others at the gym may cause an individual to perceive themself as less fit or muscular, leading to self-esteem issues.

The gym can be a positive hobby and pastime that encourages students to lead healthy and productive lifestyles, but students should be aware of the negative effects that it can cause and learn to create a balance in their lives as gym culture continues to grow.

 

About the contributors


Vira Patil

staff writer


Vira Patil is a junior at Leland high school, and this is her first year as a staff writer on The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to binge TV shows, spend time with her family, and play the piano.



Peter Yoon

artist


Peter Yoon is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he likes to listen to music, draw, and sleep.

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