With their row after row of exercise machines, most gyms burn far more electrical power than calories. But by equipping stationary bikes and elliptical machines with generators, a San Diego gym has become as healthy for the Earth as it is for its patrons.
The gym, named the Greenasium, uses a special bike called the visCycle. Produced by Resource Fitness, the visCycle generates enough electricity to offset the box fan that the Greenasium uses to cool down the room. That fan constitutes most of the gym's electricity use, as there is no air conditioning. When more than one person uses a visCycle or similarly equipped elliptical, the cardio machines put out enough power to offset the music, computer and lights as well.
"The inspiration came from just going to the big chain gyms for so long, looking at all the equipment going there, and you just think, 'there has to be a better way,'" said Byron Spratt, the co-owner and business manager of the Greenasium. "You start thinking about all the people coming into the gym, and they’re burning double energy — energy off the grid and their own energy."
The Greenasium also takes other steps to help offset its carbon footprint. They only turn on the lights at night, the floor is made from recycled tires and the gym sponsors outings to clean up garbage.
While picking up garbage may seem like the only gym activity less fun than ski jumps, it remains an integral part of the Greenasium experience.
"We’re in a very health conscious and green oriented community," Spratt said.
"By living in that community, we have to contribute to it if we want to stay in good standing."