Green Fitness: Choosing an Earth-Friendly GymOct 31, 2023 ● By Kiki Powers
The green gym is redefining fitness with an emphasis on sustainability. Traditional fitness centers consume significant amounts of electricity, water and other resources, but more gyms are rising to the challenge of reducing their environmental impact and employing strategies to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste and provide a healthier workout environment.
The concept of harnessing human power is not new, but its application in fitness centers is driving a paradigm shift. Equipment manufacturers have developed machines that convert kinetic energy generated by exercise into renewable electricity. UK-based Energym claims that 40 of their indoor cycling bikes can generate enough electricity to power 18,000 homes for a day.
SportsArt fitness offers a complete line of electricity-generating gym equipment, including treadmills, cross-trainers, elliptical machines and bikes. “We breath sustainability,” affirms Ruben Mejia, executive vice president of SportsArt America. “From the inception, we have prioritized reducing our environmental footprint. We've woven this commitment into our products and manufacturing processes. Converting a workout into usable power not only reduces the gym's carbon footprint and operating costs, but also provides gym-goers a sense of purpose and satisfaction, knowing their efforts contribute to a greener planet.”
Eco-friendly gyms not only benefit the environment, but also enhance the well-being of their members. The use of natural light and high-efficiency LED lighting, non-toxic cleaning supplies and improved air quality contribute to a healthier workout environment. Innovative centers that merge fitness with environmental consciousness often incorporate recycled and natural elements into their design, creating a calming, invigorating environment that enhances both physical workouts and mental well-being.
Pioneering Fitness Centers
The Green Microgym-Belmont, in Portland, Oregon, has taken sustainability to a whole new level. Founder Adam Boesel says, “I created this gym to offer a green, eco-friendly alternative to conventional health clubs. The goal was to operate with conservation in mind on every level possible, from electricity to equipment to mindset for staff and clients.”
Terra Hale is London’s first eco-friendly fitness destination. Their three locations are designed to put the principle of sustainability at the center. The floor is made of reconverted rubber; walls are made of recycled wood; and the members’ towels are biodegradable.
Sustainability is important to large fitness center chains, too. Life Time and Planet Fitness annually report how they are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water, minimizing waste, educating members about eco-friendly living and supporting sustainability initiatives in their communities.
Selecting an Eco-Friendly Gym
When touring a fitness center, look beyond the number of free-weight stations and consider these eco-friendly features:
- Location: Find a gym close to home or work to save both time and fuel.
- Energy Efficiency: Check for renewable energy sources like solar and energy-efficient lighting.
- Building Materials: Consider how sustainable and recycled materials are incorporated in construction and décor. Look for facilities with certifications, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council or B Corporation from B Lab. A facility that incorporates natural lighting and temperature controls is a plus. Sustainable floor materials include recycled rubber, bamboo and cork.
- Equipment: Search for gyms with equipment made from recycled materials and that invest in energy-efficient or power-generating machines. Look for brands like Precor, Life Fitness and SportsArt, which prioritize sustainability in their equipment design.
- Waste Reduction: Look for gyms that avoid single-use items, including towels, cups, water bottles and paper schedules, notices and pamphlets. A comprehensive recycling program should be a minimum standard.
- Water Conservation: Prioritize gyms with water-saving facilities, such as low-flow showers and toilets.
- Air Quality: Ask about the gym’s ventilation and air filtering systems to ensure a healthier workout. Gyms with moss- or plant-covered walls bring the outdoors in and naturally purify the air.
- Cleaning Products: Choose a gym that uses environmentally friendly cleaning products, preferably those that are biodegradable and made from natural ingredients.
- Education: Check out the gym’s website and schedule to see if they educate and engage with their members about green habits and environmental conservation.
- Community Involvement: Inquire if the gym actively participates in local environmental initiatives.
Kiki Powers is a health writer, blogger and national speaker specializing in plant-based nutrition and healthy green living. Learn more at RawKiki.com.