Yes, THIS is a Workout!

Meet three teens who are having fun while staying fit. 

All Photographs by Heather Weston 

Hard? Maybe. Boring? Never. These three teens will change your ideas about exercise—and inspire you to get moving.

1. “For me, exercise is play!” Lola, 15

Lola has taken the backyard game of hula-hooping to a whole new level—at one point during her photo shoot, she had four hoops orbiting around her torso at the same time. “It took me a little while to get used to the idea that you can do more than just whirl one hoop around, but learning new tricks—like spinning it around a lifted leg—made the sport more fun,” she says. “For me, exercise is play!” The high school sophomore even performs her act for Circus Smirkus, a traveling youth-only circus, which has boosted her confidence on (and off!) the stage.

 Hula Hoop How-To 

1. Start by standing with your feet hip distance apart. Then take a small step forward with your right foot and bend your knees slightly.

2. Place the hoop around you, pressing it against your lower back. Give it a strong spin so it’s going counter-clockwise.

3. To keep the hoop rotating, move your hips forward and backward (not in a circular motion), shifting weight between your back and front legs.

Tip: A larger hoop is easier to keep up and spinning. 

2. “I make everything a challenge.” Guillermo, 16

Guillermo is a regular at his local YMCA’s gym. He’s there at least five days a week and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. “A lot of people think of going to the gym as a chore, but it’s easy to change that perspective,” he says. To stay motivated, Guillermo always pushes himself to improve. “If I did 30 bicep curls last week, this week I may try to do 35. It makes me feel good to see my progress, and inspires me to keep coming back.” Given his always-room-for-improvement attitude, it’s no surprise that Guillermo jumped at the chance to participate in a teen-only fitness challenge that his gym was offering. “Now, I get to learn new techniques while making friends. You can’t beat that!”

 Take the 1-Minute Challenge 

Pick any move, such as squats, jumping jacks, or sit-ups, and count how many you can do in 60 seconds. Wait 24 hours, then try the routine again, aiming to fit in at least one more repetition. Repeat this until you’re performing five more reps than you did on day one!

3. “Camaraderie keeps me moving.” Karen, 15

Watching her older sister, Annique, compete in track made Karen a bit wary: “I saw her deal with blisters and leg cramps. It looked hard!” But she also witnessed the camaraderie between Annique and her teammates, and she wanted that experience, too. So in fifth grade, Karen joined her school’s running club—and she was hooked. “During races, we cheer and tell each other, ‘We’re almost there!’” Not only does the support boost her motivation, but it makes the dash to the finish line much more fun. Now a sophomore, Karen practices with her team three days a week. What about her fears? “I still have to deal with cramps, but my coach has taught me how to warm up so they don’t ruin my run.”

 Ease Into Running 

Grab a friend and tackle our four-week walk-to-run plan together.

Tip: A banana with peanut butter is great fuel for a runner.

 Brain Gains: How your mind benefits from a sweat session 

• More energy: Working out increases blood flow, which brings oxygen and nutrients to your muscles as well as your brain. This triggers cells in the brain to operate at top speed.

• A better mood: “I wish I hadn’t done that workout,” said no one ever. That’s because exercise causes your body to pump out endorphins, chemicals that increase happiness and lessen stress.

• Better grades: Working out for just 10 minutes gives you an immediate boost in concentration and focus, so consider exercise a new pre-exam ritual.

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