Youth Combine: Fighting Childhood Obesity

5 min read



As a company that supports fitness businesses, we are always proud and humbled by the great success we see. For that reason, this is our second blog in a series celebrating customers who make our world a better place by serving populations that otherwise would not be exposed to fitness and the countless benefits it provides. In this post we celebrate, Youth Combine, a non profit fitness organization.

The Story of Youth Combine

man-in-youth-combine-shirtMatthew Howland was in his third year as a middle school teacher when he started a free after-school program he called Youth Combine. This program was a class-based fitness outlet for students in his school and began out of concern for the countless number of kids he saw who couldn’t run a lap around the soccer field without becoming winded. Overall, he recognized that there was a tremendous need in his area for low-cost, quality fitness for these kids because they were often priced-out of opportunities to be active and play team sports.

Matthew firmly believes effective fitness programming for our community’s youth should be freely accessible. He feels strongly that it needs to be a community effort to provide such opportunity, not something left up to businesses seeking big profits. With too many area youths falling through the cracks, Matthew put all his time and energy into Youth Combine.

Within weeks, the after school program was an incredible success. The results were so amazing that Matthew was urged by members of the community to consider expanding it. In 2012, he incorporated Youth Combine as a 501c3 non-profit. It was then that Matthew quit his job teaching, sold his car for some extra cash and took up the fight for kids.


What Success Looks Like

Today, Youth Combine provides that much-needed fitness and wellness education programming for youth. With the sole mission of combatting childhood obesity, Youth Combine takes pride in providing unlimited access to all fitness classes, at all of their locations, for just $20 per child per month. With one hundred active members in their program, they successfully prepare their kids for sports and fitness opportunities in high school and college.

As a way to ensure the members of Youth Combine are achieving their goals and staying motivated for improvement, coaches measure and track the progress of all students. (To read about why tracking workouts is critical for success, check out this blog) Monthly, Youth Combine records height, weight, BMI, mid-arm diameter, waist diameter, vertical jump, 1-minute burpees, 1-minute sit-ups, 1-minute push-ups, 3-point t-shuttle (speed & agility test), and a timed mile run. This data is uploaded into Zen Planner’s Workout Tracking, and students always have access to their record of improvement.

100% of Youth Combine members show improvement in one or more of the health and fitness benchmarks after just one month of active participation. This improvement builds self-esteem and motivates the youth to reach higher goals. Plus, Youth Combine’s fitness programming is designed so that both extraordinary athletes and kids just becoming active will both find success.

Why Other Communities Need Youth Combine

The sad truth is that the incidence of childhood obesity skyrocketed in the last twenty-five years. According to the American Heart Association 1/3 of our nation’s children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and with that comes a wide array of unfortunate health conditions. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are all correlated to the incidence of extra weight and obesity in children and adolescents. Likewise, it’s an accepted fact that an early intervention provides a greater and more-lasting health benefit than interventions coming later in life. For this reason, the services Matthew provides are incredibly beneficial for his entire community. Plus, each and every Youth Combine student will go on to inspire someone else to seek the amazing opportunity fitness provides.

To read more about Youth Combine and the great work Matthew Howland is doing, visit the Youth Combine website.

Check out our latest eBook, Fitness Business Management Time Traps to Avoid. This guide will help you identify which tasks are taking up too much of your time, how to avoid these traps in the future and, most importantly, how creating efficiencies can help you better build relationships with your members.

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