by Eileen Weber
Do you have more energy after you work out? You might if you were a member of The Green Microgym in Portland, Ore. Thanks to owner Adam Boesel, these members generate electricity—up to 350 kilowatts—every time they hop on the equipment. Imagine making enough electricity to power your refrigerator for the better part of a year just by burning those extra calories.
Treadmills. Stationary Bikes. Elliptical trainers. Everything you need for a great workout—and it’s a way to keep the environment clean. Boesel had solar panels installed to generate electricity. Whatever electricity remains unused goes back to the main power grid.
“I’ve worked in big gyms and small gyms,” Boesel said, “but I’ve chosen to differentiate myself by being green.” Because Portland is an eco-friendly area, residents are thrilled with the concept. Originally started in Hong Kong, the use of solar panels to power a facility’s electricity is a renewable energy system that is gaining momentum.
But Boesel was quick to point out that while Portland is amenable to green ideas, this concept could be implemented anywhere. Since Boesel’s gym opened about a month ago, he has been contacted by interested parties from as far away as South Africa, the Netherlands, and Australia. “You could do this in Omaha, Nebraska,” he said. “It’s a trend that’s catching on.”
But Oregon isn’t alone. Connecticut has been getting into the act. Jay Whelan of The Green Revolution, Inc., has taken his invention, an energy converter attached to exercise equipment that transforms human energy into electricity, to the Ridgefield Fitness Club.
Whelan, who was recently quoted in the Ridgefield Press, said he didn’t think this concept would have taken off ten years ago. “The (energy) crisis we’re having now,” he said, “has everyone looking to help out.”
Jim Johnstone, the Ridgefield Fitness Club’s Managing Member, said, “We’re a prototype,” he said. “[We’ve] had an assessment from Green Revolution on ways we can help reduce what we use.”
Only the stationary bikes have been fitted with the converter, but the club has future plans for their other equipment like the rowers and elliptical trainers.
While The Green Microgym has omitted certain amenities like showers and saunas to keep their electricity needs down, Boesel’s club members don’t seem to mind. “This is a neighborhood gym and everyone lives close by,” he said. “Only about 1% of members use [those facilities] anyway. It’s just unnecessary.”
Johnstone’s club has been open for nearly 10 years. Going completely green might take baby steps. “Bigger clubs can be green, but people come to expect a certain kind of service.”