The gym digs out the power of sweat.

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The gym digs out the power of sweat.

Exercising at the gym requires a lot of energy – both for the sponsor and the gym itself. Now, new machines are being developed to capture it. A seattle-based company has developed a motion device that sends the resistance of all kinetic energy back to the grid. The “green gym” has appeared, with like-minded exercisers turning their sweat into kw – although the net effect may be smaller than you might think.

Host: Robert siegel.

That’s all for NPR news. I’m Robert siegel.


I’m Melissa Block.

Modern gyms often use a lot of electricity, all the stairs, stationary bikes and big-screen TVS. Now, some gyms are trying not only to use less electricity, but to actually put some electricity into the grid.

Deena Prichep, from Portland, ore., reports exercise equipment for generating electricity.

DEENA PRICHEP: Cory Bilger recently made an oval coach in Portland’s green microcapsules to put on a bathing suit for the upcoming trip to Hawaii. And not only does she burn calories, she’s also generating electricity.

Ms. CORY BILGER: this is total power generation: 4.19 and number.


PRICHEP: this is the 4.19 watts she created.

Ms. Bilge: I actually took pictures of each exercise with my iPhone.

PRICHEP: the company that developed the machine is called resource fitness. ‘basically, think of the windmill,’ says chief technology officer Alan Byrd.

Mr. AARON BIRD (chief technical officer of Resource Fitness) : the wind turbine converts kinetic energy into electricity through a generator and then converts it to alternating current through the inverter, then into the grid.

PRICHEP: in this case, not the wind, strength comes from your legs. The Resource bike costs about $1,200, which is standard for commercial fitness equipment. And all of their machines will be plugged in – sorry, into the grid. This makes them more efficient than using batteries, Byrd says.

Mr. BIRD: the problem with batteries is that when you charge the battery, and then when you run out of the battery to return the energy, both directions are effectively lost. When the battery is just sitting there, it will be less efficient, because it won’t keep energy forever.

PRICHEP: Bird says there are still some unavoidable losses in the transformation. But in general, the energy-generating exercise equipment is very efficient. It is appearing in gyms, universities and apartments across the country.

One company, ReRev, is even preparing a series of bikes at Edwards air force base. But all these machines produce less energy than you think.

Adam Boesel, owner of the green Microgym, sees the exercisers exercise his energy generation cycle and elliptical machines every day.

Mr. ADAM BOESEL (owner of Green Microgym) : so the average person generates some electricity between 30 and 60 watts.

PRICHEP: Boesel admits it’s not a lot, but it’s something.

Mr. BOESEL: thirty watts will power the iPad for three hours; 60 watt hour can power stereo for one hour.

PRICHEP: sometimes green Microgym actually produces more energy, for example, all the machines are in the rotation course. But overall, the gym doesn’t even generate enough electricity to meet its needs. But, says Boesel, every bit helps.

Mr BOESEL: yes, we look at the way it is, you can choose to use waste a lot of power machine in a gym, or you can choose in the energy efficiency is very high in gym creative power.

PRICHEP: for microgym member Cory Bilger, reducing her carbon footprint is definitely part of the draw. It would be even better if she could prepare for a Hawaiian vacation.

Ms. Bilge: I told you I was wearing a bathing suit. This is a big deal.


PRICHEP: according to bilge’s iPhone diary, she logged in 258 watt in February, enough to keep her iPhone running for a month or so.

For NPR news, I’m Deena Prichep in Portland, Oregon.


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