Caleb McLaughlin is your new workout buddy.
The Stranger Things actor, 17, is encouraging fellow teens to get to the gym — and this summer, they can do it for free.
McLaughlin teamed up with Planet Fitness to launch an initiative in which kids ages 15 to 18 can work out at no cost from May 15 through September 1. Locations will also be offering 30-minute classes geared toward teens.
“I think it’s important for teens to take care of themselves mentally and physically,” he tells PEOPLE.
While McLaughlin says there’s no personal trainer on the Stranger Things set, he works out regularly by playing sports (his favorite is basketball) and by doing push ups every day. “It makes me feel good. It makes me focus, keeps me energized,” he says. And he also appreciates the results, “like muscles and stuff.”
To teens struggling with body image, McLaughlin has this to say: “I’m not telling you not to feel the way you feel, but I can help you get through it. I can help you learn how to get through it by yourself. It’s not easy to love yourself, and I understand that. But if you do things that are out of your comfort zone, you will feel more confident. Maybe teens will find that they like working out.”
He also advises teens “not to get stuck on the little things” that might be contributing to negative body image.
McLaughlin says his own self-confidence comes from “being a weirdo. Some people wouldn’t dance in public. I dance in public. I like doing things out of my comfort zone and being myself. And my parents — my mom and dad just telling me to love who I am and stay true to who I am.”
“If you’re exercising for looks, still do it,” he says, “but it builds your self-confidence when you work out. Whatever motivates you.”
To sign up for a free summer gym membership, teens can visit any Planet Fitness across the country with a parent. A trainer will teach them how to use the equipment, and throughout the campaign, the optional 30-minute fitness classes will be offered Monday through Friday.
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