A SUMMER fat camp aimed at sedentary “Xbox generation” teenagers has been hailed as an innovative way of tackling the Capital’s obesity problem.
Queen Margaret University has invested £130,000 in cutting edge fitness technology, some of which will be used as part of the summer holiday scheme Teen Gym, which is targeted at under-16s.
A recent report found that 14.7 per cent of children as young as five in Edinburgh were overweight, obese or severely obese and called for more to be done to tackle the problem.
A spokesman said: “It’s a great way of prizing them out of their computer chairs.”
On their first visit to Teen Gym, youngsters receive a full induction by one of the university’s qualified fitness instructors who will then create their personal exercise programme.
Staff are also on hand to supervise teenagers using the sports hall for basketball, badminton, table tennis, netball and volleyball.
Stuart Burnside, leisure assistant at QMU Sports, said the unique scheme is aimed solely at 12 to 15-year-olds. He said: “The majority of the time the gym is just available to over-16s and we really wanted to provide a more accessible facility for younger members of the local community. It’s proving to be a really positive way of involving local young people in a healthy lifestyle.”
Because of the young age of the people using the facilities, the uni has to pay an insurance premium – in case of injury.
Amanda Bloyce, 42, from Stoneybank in Musselburgh, is already a big fan of the Queen Margaret sports facilities and is glad her 14-year-old daughter Lauren has signed up for Teen Gym. She said: “My main reason for joining the gym was to lose weight, but after a while I realised I really enjoyed keeping fit. I initially couldn’t run far but I got into running on the tread mill and my confidence rose. I enjoy the gym so much that I go between four and five times a week. My fitness levels have soared and I recently completed the 5K Race for Life for Cancer Research.
“Lauren takes part in two dance classes a week at QMU so she’s already familiar with the sports facilities. She’s at that age now where her peers are becoming more interested in their health and their appearance, so having something active to do over the summer is great. It’s so easy for teenagers to lie in bed or sit on Facebook over the holidays.
“Teen Gym encourages them to be up and about doing something healthy. Teen Gym also means that Lauren and I can go to the gym together, which we both really enjoy. She’s initially joined for a week, but I’m sure she’ll commit to more.”
Top city surgeon Chris Oliver, who lost 12 stone after he had a gastric band fitted in 2007, said anything to encourage young people to exercise was to be supported.
“This is a great idea,” he said. “One of the problems with childhood obesity is children don’t realise they are obese because so many children are overweight. To have a gym open to teenagers is brilliant.”