What's the youngest age group your gym will allow into the workout area (unsupervised)?
I guess people are going to be split on the idea of allowing children to workout unsupervised at a gym. Currently, my gym allows children as young as 12 years of age to be in the workout area, provided that they receive an orientation prior to working out (and they are given a tag and registered in our system to prove that they have orientation training). However, the orientation is all hands-off, so the kids don't actually have the chance to get fitted on the equipments (we used to do hands-on orientation years ago, and they took nearly an hour or more to complete). But do note that regardless of whatever method we choose to do, no kid is ever going to remember how to use every piece of equipment in the gym that is shown to them.
We've opted for the hands-off approach under the premise that unlike adults
1) Children are easily distracted and will give up using an equipment sooner than adults
2) Children will likely not push themselves to exhaustion
And very much like adults, children are likely going to gravitate towards things that are familiar to them (if they don't ever ask for help). That being said, we do have two sides of the argument here about this. The first group wishes for children much younger to be allowed to workout, citing that we aren't really helping with the obesity problem if we exclude this group based on age. The other side argues that they are afraid the children can injure themselves due to not being able to fit into certain equipments (cardio equipments and selectorized weight machines especially), or simply using things like free weights incorrectly.
As of the new year, my gym will now allow children as young as 11 years of age to use the workout area unsupervised. The policy is that children younger than this can't use the workout area (even if the parent/guardian are present); they are restricted to use the tracks or the squash/racquet ball courts (or else use the main gym to play some pick-up sport, or be swimming in the pool -- where there are usually more supervision compared to the workout area).
Now, I sometimes wish the adults or teens would comes to us for help more often, because no one over the age of 14 is required to do an orientation. Yet, this group of people are the ones who will relentlessly do something incorrectly until they are injured before ever asking for help (if ever). I find that very few are receptive to workout advice and would rather be blissfully ignorant about what they are doing wrong than to have someone correct them for their own safety. Ironically, these people are more concerned about children doing something incorrectly.
If you guys train out of a gym, what is the youngest your facility will allow into the workout area? Also, how much supervision would you expect that facility to have for specific age groups coming in? Do you believe kids are more likely to injure themselves than teens or adults? Do you believe that in order to combat the obesity pandemic, we should offer the use of the gym (to add extra choice in their list of activities) to kids?
I look forward to what everyone has to say, especially as we all move into the new year in a couple of weeks and we'll all be very busy then.