Fun Workouts for Teens to Get Them up and Active

The teen years are tough. Aside from winding your way through the often-confusing world of high school relationships, school, future plans, and family life, you're stuck in the body and brain of a human that's not-quite-adult but no-longer-a-child. The teen years also give you your first real taste of freedom, opening up a world of choices.

You have the choice to continue in sports, or to focus on other interests. You have the choice to get an after-school job or to hang out with friends. You have the choice to prioritize physical activity or to forego walking, strength training, or skateboarding in favor of car rides and time spent playing video games.


Unfortunately, research indicates that when teens are given the choice between sedentary activities or something active, they tend to lean toward inactivity. In fact, a 2017 study by John Hopkins University researchers found that 19-year-olds get about the same amount of physical activity as 60-year-olds.

The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth found that only 7.5% of 12- to 15-year-olds and 5.1% of 16- to 19-year-olds meet current physical activity guidelines calling for at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

Clearly, teens aren't getting the activity they need, but solutions aren't always easy to come by, and adults don't always provide the best examples when it comes to health and physical activity. Even those who do aren't always capable of catering to or motivating teenagers.

Teens don't always respond well to adult interventions, and they certainly don't like being forced to adhere to adult-style exercise plans. Teens need options designed for and geared to their unique demographic. Quality solutions are still hard to come by, but more organizations are stepping up to offer fitness classes and programs specifically for teens. Check out the leaders of the pack.


Jazzercise GirlForce

Jazzercise GirlForce

For adults, Jazzercise may be seen as a bygone trend from the '80s and '90s, but just like how everything else from those decades is back and popular for the teen crowd, so too is the original dance fitness craze.

GirlForce is a class geared specifically to young women between the ages of 16 and 21 that mixes modern dance choreography with kickboxing and Pilates moves, all set to Top 40s music from artists like Katy Perry, Adam Lambert, Hailee Steinfeld, and OneRepublic.

By offering a class only to girls in this age group, Jazzercise is providing a safe spot for young women to sweat it out while socializing with their friends and peers. You can also connect with other participants by following and tagging #GirlForce on Instagram.


Rising Gymja Warrior

American Ninja Warrior-style workouts are popular with practically every age group, but they're especially good for teens who are less interested in counting reps and sets, and more in having fun. Gymja Warrior is an innovative company with two obstacle course-style studios located on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Each weeknight these facilities host the "Rising Gymja Warrior" class specifically for boys and girls between 11 and 17 years old. "Teens find themselves enjoying the class because they don't even feel like they're working out," says Gymja Warrior owner Shahab Afsharian. "It's a perfect group activity for teens."


AquaMermaid Fitness

While AquaMermaid doesn't specifically designate its Mermaid Fitness classes as "for teens only," all it takes is a single look at the giant, wearable mermaid fins the classes feature to attract people of all ages to this water activity.

In fact, FinFun, a maker of specialty wearable mermaid gear like fins and tails and a leader in the "mermaid lifestyle" category, notes that mermaid fitness classes are one of the most popular workouts in the fitness marketplace for 18- to 24-year-olds.

"Mermaid Fitness is a rigorous aqua fitness activity that uses many of the moves of synchronized swimming," says Nora Kaitis, a professional mermaid with AquaMermaid Chicago. "We operate in six cities throughout the United States and Canada, and we recommend these classes for teens as a great way to bond with their friends."

Many people get excited about the idea of gliding through the water while wearing a mermaid tail.


The Ailey Studios Teen Extension Dance Classes

If you're located in the New York City area and have a keen interest in dance, look no further than The Ailey Studios' teen extension programs. The Ailey Studios, which is the home of the Alivin Ailey American Dance Theater, offers Sunday, teen-specific workshops throughout the year in specialties like Broadway jazz, hip hop, and ballet.

Classes are open to students of all ability levels and dance backgrounds and are geared to those between the ages of 12 and 17.

For slightly older teens (those 16 and up), the extension program also offers daily dance fitness classes in everything from West African Dance to Capoeira to Salsa. In most cases, no experience is necessary and absolute beginners are welcome.


Les Mills Born to Move

Les Mills has been a long-time leader in studio-style fitness for adults, but they've added a teen-specific program called Born to Move. Classes are kept short, at just 30 to 45 minutes, and feature everything from martial arts and sports conditioning to dance and yoga, all set to popular music.

Unlike GirlForce, Born to Move is designed for both male and female students and is ideally positioned for a 13- to 16-year-old demographic. Full-length workouts are also available for free through Les Mills on Demand. Be sure to look for the green-tagged videos for teens, as there are separate Born to Move classes for younger kids.


CrossFit Kids

CrossFit Kids is a CrossFit-sanctioned program designed for kids between the ages of 3 and 18. Of course, no one in their right mind would put 3-year-olds in the same fitness class as 18-year-olds, so most boxes separate such programs into "kids" classes and "teen" classes.

Teen classes aren't that different from the tough, adult-focused WODs CrossFit is known for, but they do place a heavy emphasis on mechanics and consistency before ramping up the intensity.

This is a great option for teens who want to build muscle mass and confidence in a trainer-supervised setting. If you can't find specific information about teen-friendly programs on the CrossFit website, which is sometimes hard to navigate, call your local CrossFit box to see what they offer.


HASFit Teenage Weight Loss Program

HASFit (Heart and Soul Fitness) is a well-known website and YouTube channel offering full-length workout and nutrition programs that has a teen-specific weight loss program that's completely free for participants. The 100% online program is ideal for teens who don't have access to a studio or gym, and who are willing to give a 30-day program a try. In addition to five weekly workouts, participants can also download and follow the provided meal plan.

If you are concerned that your child is overweight or obese, it's a good idea to speak with a health care professional for an accurate diagnosis. A physician, pediatrician, or registered dietitian can help you devise a nutrition and exercise plan to help your child stay healthy.

A Word From Verywell

While there's a long way to go in terms of teen-friendly fitness programming at fitness centers, it's important to remember that you don't have to attend a class or join a sports team to be fit and healthy. If you're trying to figure out how to get active, start by identifying any activity that interests you, such as skateboarding, hiking, rock climbing, or dancing, then research options in your area.

Even if you don't feel comfortable joining a class with adults, you could recruit a friend to try a class or an activity with you, or consider taking a private lesson. Also don't ignore the benefits of social media. YouTube, Instagram, and SnapChat are all teen-friendly communities that make it easy to identify, learn about, and try various workouts hosted by experts.

Just be sure to verify that the accounts you're following are hosted by individuals who have certifications in their fields.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Varma VR, Dey D, Leroux A, et al. Re-evaluating the effect of age on physical activity over the lifespanPrev Med. 2017;101:102‐108. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.05.030

  2. National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

By Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.