Charlotte-area teens hoping to get fit during summer break can now register for a free health club membership at any Lifestyle Family Fitness. The annual teen health initiative kicked off in May and runs through August. “I was an overweight teen and experienced a lot of peer pressure while growing up,” says Lifestyle Family Fitness founder Geoff Dyer, who once tipped the scales at 248 pounds at 17 years of age. “I wanted to provide health club memberships for teens who may be facing the same self-esteem issues I once faced.” Overweight teens are at risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. Among the many benefits of physical activity are higher levels of self-confidence and lower stress and anxiety levels. “A new study shows that even teens who are genetically predisposed to obesity will maintain a healthy weight by exercising for an hour daily,” says Dyer. “In an effort to battle childhood obesity and inactivity, Lifestyle Family Fitness began donating free, two-month health club memberships to teens in 2006,” says Lifestyle Family Fitness President Kevin Laferriere. “We do this during the summer months, because many teens would not otherwise have access to physical education during school break.” “Family members tend to be too forgiving when teens experience weight gain. It is easy to pass this off as “puppy fat” or say ‘you’ll grow out of it, don’t worry about it’,” adds Dyer. “The better approach is for the parent to lead by example. Eat sensibly, be active and be supportive and encouraging.” Participation in North Carolina has about tripled since the program started in 2007 and is expected to grow to reach more than a thousand local teens this summer. Nationwide 11,000 teens participated in the program last year. To register a teen, parents may visit www.lff.com/teen. Teen memberships provide all-day access to the health clubs on weekends and access until 4:00p.m. on weekdays. For more information, parents can call 866-362-9286 during business hours. Both Charlotte locations and participate in the program.