News / USA

Exercisers Burn Energy While Creating it

Green gyms use equipment designed to make electricity

Green Microgym owner Adam Boesel on an elliptical machine that generates electricity during a workout.
Green Microgym owner Adam Boesel on an elliptical machine that generates electricity during a workout.

Multimedia

Audio
Deena Prichep

The modern gym typically uses a lot of electricity to run the treadmills, the big-screen TVs that keep exercisers entertained, and the air-conditioning to cool them. However, not only are some gyms trying to use less power, but they are even putting some back into the grid.

Power up

In order to look good in a swimsuit for her upcoming trip to Hawaii, Cory Bilger hits the elliptical trainer at Portland's Green Microgym pretty hard these days. And she's not just burning calories, she's creating electricity - 4.19 watt hours of energy - by pumping her arms and legs. The elliptical trainer she exercises on generates electricity in the same way a windmill does.

"Wind turns the turbine, that kinetic energy is converted into electricity through a generator," says Aaron Bird, chief technology officer for Resource Fitness, which developed the equipment. "It then runs through an inverter to convert it to AC electricity, which goes into the grid."

At times, the Green Microgyms generate more power than they draw, but on the whole, they don't create enough electricity to meet their own demands.
At times, the Green Microgyms generate more power than they draw, but on the whole, they don't create enough electricity to meet their own demands.

In this case, instead of the wind, the power comes from an exerciser’s arms and legs. And all of Resource’s machines send that energy directly into the electrical grid.

Bird says that makes them a much more efficient power source than earlier generations of exercise equipment which stored the energy in a battery.

More efficient

"The problem with a battery is when you charge the battery, and then when you drain the battery to get the energy back, there's efficiency loss in both directions," says Bird. "There's also efficiency loss when the battery's just sitting there because it doesn't hold the energy forever."

According to Bird, there's still some unavoidable loss in the conversion. But overall, energy-generating exercise equipment is pretty efficient. And it's cropping up across the country in gyms, college athletic centers and community rec rooms.

One company is getting ready to outfit an array of bikes at Edwards Air Force Base.

Exerciser energy

So how much power is created from an hour's worth of exercise?

"Generally people generate somewhere between 30 to 60 watt hours," says Adam Boesel, owner of Green Microgym. "Thirty watt hours can power an iPad for three hours. Sixty watt hours can power a stereo for an hour."

There are times when the Green Microgym actually generates more power than it draws, say when all the machines are going full speed during a spin class. But on the whole, the gym doesn't even create enough electricity to meet its own demands. Still, Boesel says, every little bit helps.

"The way we look at it is that you can choose to be in a gym with machines that waste a lot of electricity, or you can choose to be in a gym that's very energy efficient, where you're creating electricity."

For Microgym member Cory Bilger, reducing her carbon footprint is definitely part of the draw. And if she can do it while getting ready for a Hawaiian vacation, all the better.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs