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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid