Green Gyms: Talk About Powering Through Your Workout

Posted in Health
Tue, Sep 23 - 10:06 am EDT | 10 years ago by
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I was flipping through my ACE certification newsletter, and came across the coolest thing I’ve ever heard of: The Green Gym.

Gyms are a place to go release a little a steam and energy, but infact, that is what we are literally doing: releasing energy in the form of burned calories.  Where does this energy go? Into the air. Wasted.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could harness that energy, and use it to power the very machines in the gym facilitating the energy expenditure? Turns out we can, and quite a few gyms are doing it already. 

Adam Boesel’s gym, A Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon uses a combination of solar and human power, and is almost completely self sufficient.

Boesel’s gym uses very little electricity.  His spin bikes are hooked up to DC generators that produce electricity, which in turn goes into a 12 volt battery bank.  The bank powers TVs, stereos, lights and fans around the facility.

The club uses refurbished and used equipment, and even has high performance mountain bikes made of bamboo.  His bathrooms use on demand water heaters, and enviromentally friendly solvents and cleaning products.

Most gyms use grossly huge amounts of electricity and water.  Think of how many cardio machines, TV sets, fans and stereos are plugged in at your gym. And never unplugged.  Never even turned off.  The average standard stationary bike only uses 10 percent of its electricity to run the machine. The remaining 90% is wasted in the form of heat.

US health clubs are the least green in the world, due to the fact that we have easy access to coal and oil.  Now that we are starting to run low, we are looking other places for energy.

This novel idea isn’t without hitches, however.  “Greening” a facility that is already in existence can take a long time and be very costly. Its easier to start green business from the ground up, which means an overhaul in the industry could take many years.

Other factors come into play as well, including climate zone, the positioning of the building for natural light, and air flow, to minimize the need for air conditioning.

Many gyms are too small for members to produce enough power to consistently run machines and facility amenities. 

With all these snags, however, there’s no reason each could not implement atleast a few of these ideas.  As added incentive, city, state and federal tax credits for solar power installation and other perks, can help nudge club owner’s in the right direction. 

Of course “greening” your workout could be taken literally, and include running, jogging, biking and strength training outside, but many gym rats will never give up their memberships.  Taking the focus off working out for your health and mental well being and turning it into a crusade to save the planet may seem a little misguided, but with the way out energy crisis is continueing to head, it may not be such a bad angle.

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  • tfh

    My husband will be excited to see this– either that or devastated because he may possibly think he came up with this idea. It would be pretty cool if we could harness all that energy.

  • Fit Bottomed Girls

    Oh my gosh! I literally JUST read that article. It was fascinating!

  • Mark Salinas

    Very interesting! I am still confused at how this actually could work…although very cool!

  • charlotte

    I love this idea! I’ve often thought it is such a waste, all of that energy getting just burned off into the atmosphere. And I love the idea of making people work for their amenities…

  • Girl on Top

    Wow, that sounds really cool. I’m all for going green!

  • Melissa

    That is so great! Thank you for this post – there are so many ways we can “go green” and it sounds like this gym is a wonderful example. My company, JohnsonDiversey, makes “green” cleaning products and it’s exciting to read about companies and individuals who are leaders in this movement to protect our environment. Step by step… If you’re interested in reading about us, please check out our website: Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  • ttfn300

    such a great concept :)

  • Sagan

    Is this for real?! Thats way too cool!

  • Carla

    Too bad I didn’t come up with this idea. :) I have a spinning bike at home that I use on a regular basis and always though it would be nice if I can power my TV with it!

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  • Lindsay

    Well, I’m not giving up my gym membership (I live in Seattle, and it’s pretty gloomy exercising outside here for six months out of the year), but it’d be great to see the spin bikes and all those cardio machines hooked up to batteries so your energy could go into something productive. :)

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