Sustainability | Ecotrope

At Green Microgym: Burn calories, make energy

Ecotrope | Jan. 23, 2011 1:18 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:42 p.m.

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I got a Groupon offer from Green Microgym in Northeast Portland today. The gym was the first in the U.S. to use solar and human power to offset the energy used by exercise machines when it opened in 2008. The treadmills, ellipticals and spin bikes actually generate electricity as you use them (an average of 200 watts per hour – enough to power a stereo or a laptop). As you work out, a computer system tells you how much energy you’re generating (pictures here). The gym has other eco-features, too, like cork and recycled rubber flooring, low-flow and dual-flush toilets.

The place got a lot of press when it first opened (though I still missed the memo). As The New York Times reported, it’s inviting people not just to make their bodies fit but to make fitness part of a healthy lifestyle that includes environmental consciousness:

“The typical health club uses a huge amount of energy and water, said John Kersh, a former director of international development for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. But a growing number of conservation-conscious consumers are beginning to change that, he said. “It’s not just, ‘How do you get fit?’ ” Mr. Kersh said. “It’s: ‘How do you make your lifestyle healthier? How do you reduce your carbon footprint?’ ”

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