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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid