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Looking for exercise options to suit your teen?

By: Melissa Stevens

The teenage years are a turbulent time but physical activity can be a great way to combat stress, create good health and a positive body image, and build camaraderie with a group of friends. If you are looking for things to do for teenagers then fitness classes, such as those run by Flex Studio, can be a good option, particularly if he or she is not traditionally sporty.

Flex Studio co-founder and director Heather Thomas Shalabi says she began the Flex Teens programme in 2010, as her own children reached their teenage years. “It’s no secret that teenagers spend a lot of time either at desks or looking at screens, and so ensuring good spinal and joint health from an early age is imperative as their bodies change and grow,” she says. “Good posture leads to less pain and more confidence. And not all kids are team sport types, so a fitness class is a great way to get moving and meet other like-minded kids. Basically, Flex Teens is fun and energetic, and gives them a term-based goal so they can easily see their progression.”

The Flex Teens programme offers a selection of AntiGravity and Pilates classes, segmented into teen and pre-teen age groups to cater for their different developmental needs.

image of teenager at a Flex fitness class

“Pre-teens (ages nine to 11) are considered at an age we describe as a ‘golden window’ in the fitness industry (depending on their maturation) where their skeletal, muscular and neurological systems come together,” she says. “They suddenly do really well in gymnastics or become very skilled in a team sport, so we take advantage of that in classes by challenging their range of motion to improve flexibility and stability, around joints in particular.”

Meanwhile, classes for kids aged 11 and older take into account their very specific needs. “With teenage years, their growth plates can get out of whack and you can see injury suddenly; or they might be afraid to go on the high bar where they used to be fearless,” she says. “You hear about teenagers being clumsy, as their skeletal system grows and their neurological system scrambles to catch up. We therefore don’t push them to their end ranges and instead do more work with the principals of core work, which they intellectually understand by then. This focus on the core supports their spines.”

Flex studio

Heather says the Flex ethos of “intelligent fitness” underpins their teen programme, and they are very conscious of positive role modelling and body image messages. “We focus on developing balance and muscle strength, and it has nothing to do with what size jeans you have,” Heather says. “It’s about a pain-free, efficient and well-balanced life. We have instructors of all shapes and sizes and our goal is ensure our teens are centred and comfortable in their own skin.”

Flex Teens offers a term-based programme priced at $2,600 for 10 sessions. A first time drop-in class is $280. Find out more at

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This article first appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.