My family and I have been going to our gym for probably about 16 years. There used to be a sign in the main cardio/weight machine room that said "No one under 12 allowed in the weight room." It really sucked at first because we, my younger brother and I, really wanted to go to the gym, too. My older brother was old enough to work out. There were several times when we were pulled aside by the owner and my dad pointed to me and my younger brother and said, "She's 11 and he's 10." We were 10 and 8, respectively. I guess my dad wanted us to be almost 12? Eventually, we kids stopped trying to go to the gym.
The other night (I'm 26 now), I walk in to the gym and see three kids on the treadmills. I immediately got pissed. It was 7 o'clock on a Tuesday, the place was packed with guys in jeans (yes, jeans) lifting weights, older ladies getting out of aerobics class, and people in general just working out. Between the kids on the treadmill was an older woman, I'm guessing she was their mom.
By the time I got out of the locker room, the kids and mom were off the treadmill and onto the weight machines. I get on my elliptical and zone out. I catch glimpses of the family as they move around the gym. Granted, these kids were better behaved than a lot of the kids I usually see at the gym. Fifteen year olds walking at about 2mph on a treadmill talking on their cell phone. Girls, soaking wet from the pool in their shorts and t-shirts, running around giggling and playing on the machines.
The kids this night were working out with their folks. The boy did leg presses with his dad. The girl watched quietly. As they were walking out, I saw that it was a family of five, just like mine was. The oldest boy was probably the only one over 12. All of them were overweight. The little girl, maybe 8 or 9, had little chubby rolls at her sides. Same for her younger brother.
Before I left the gym, I noticed the "No one under 12..." sign was not up anymore. I wonder how long it's been down.