Q & A - Age Restrictions at Fitness Centers

Editor’s Note: Occasionally, we run across questions posed by Parks & Recreation professionals regarding policies used by others. We suspect our readers may have some of the same questions, so we are supplying the answers. Here’s one example:


Hello Everyone,

We are re-evaluating the age at which we allow kids into the fitness center. Is anyone allowing kids under the age of 13 in to use the equipment? If so, are there any limits to which equipment they can use or times at which they can come in?

Thank you very much for your help!

Paula Horner

Recreation Manager

Broadview Heights, Ohio



We allow kids ages 12 to 14 to use our Nautilus equipment if they are accompanied by an adult. They are not permitted to use free weights until the age of 15, regardless of whether they are accompanied by an adult. If 12- to 14-year-olds want to use the Nautilus equipment without an adult, they have to take a training class which runs for one hour each Saturday morning in a month of their choosing!

Hope this helps!

Steve Dockman

Program Coordinator

Middleburg Hts.


We have two small areas for fitness (not supervised, but we are in the building)--one for women and one for men. This building is 37 years old and was adapted over time for fitness. We allow 14- to 15-year-olds to work out, but they must have an adult with them. 16- to 17-year-olds must have a parent sign a waiver to lift by themselves.

Good Luck -

Gail S. Brahier, Director

Oxford Parks and Recreation

Oxford, Ohio


No, both facilities I have worked at for the last ten years have either a youth class as we do now and a youth room for ages 12 to14 along with a youth certification they must obtain before they can use the room under supervision. When I worked at Akron General Lifestyles, they had a teen certification for those 13 and above and they had to pass this before they were allowed to use the equipment with the rest of the adults. Neither place allowed any under 12 to use equipment, only the track, gym, and pool.

Thanks a lot,

Ned Hamad Jr., Fitness Supervisor

Strongsville Recreation

Strongsville, Ohio


We require all patrons to go through a mandatory orientation of the equipment in the fitness center with one of the fitness staff. We allow 14- and 15-year-olds in our fitness center as long as their parent/guardian are present with them. 16- and 17-year-olds can enter on their own, but have to have their waiver signed by a parent prior to their orientation. Under no circumstance will we allow anyone under the age of 14 into the fitness center.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Matt Beaty, Assistant Director

Springdale, Parks & Recreation

Springdale, Ohio


We addressed this about four years ago.

Children ages 8 to 10 can use only cardiovascular exercise equipment in our fitness centers, provided that their parents sign a release. The child goes through an orientation with their parents and the parent is "actively" supervising the child (working out with them, not just sitting in a chair watching them).

Children ages 11 to 15 can work out on all equipment (strength training and/or cardiovascular), provided that they meet the same requirements mentioned above (release, orientation and parent supervision).

Our biggest concern, in addition to frame (body) size was the maturity of the participants. We felt that we needed to ensure the child's, as well as others', safety. Our answer to this concern was the active supervision requirement.

The reason that we have restricted children ages 8 to 10 to cardiovascular equipment, is due to the frame size and that very few machines (unless youth-specific machines are acquired) will fit the average child that age.

Additionally, we have offered fitness camps and speed conditioning programs in our fitness centers for the same age groups.

Good luck! It is a worthy cause!

James E. Engelhardt

Division Manager--Fitness, Sports and Special Facilities

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department

Kettering, Ohio


In Dublin, our age limit for the fitness area is 16. At this age, they can be unaccompanied by an adult. We found out early that there was a programming need for pre-teens in the fitness area, so we created a “Junior Fitness Card” program. Upon completion of this instructional program, kids ages 12 to 15 can use the fitness center unaccompanied by an adult. The program covers rules, equipment function, correct form, fitness floor etiquette, etc. The Junior Fitness Card kids must carry their class completion card that we issue (photo ID) with them at all times when they are using the floor and present it to any staff member who asks for it.

I'm very interested to see the results that you get from other facilities.

Tracey D. Uhl, M.S., CPRP

Recreation Administrator--Operations

Dublin Community Recreation Center

Dublin, Ohio