By Jessica Borges, LuxEco Living Editorial Assistant
The start of a new year brings motivation to do bigger and better things than the previous year. If improving fitness is one of your resolutions, why not hit a gym that not only helps you shed pounds but also helps the environment? Green gyms and fitness centers are proliferating as we become more conscious of how the health of the planet relates to their own health. Home to endless rows of machinery plugged into walls, buzzing TVs and overworked fans, gyms are an energy-saver's nightmare. But some businesses are starting to use energy in a more productive way, making their members' experience a greener one.
The Green Microgym in Portland, OR embraced the concept of harnessing natural energy in a place where it is certainly not lacking. Converting human energy to electricity (along with the use of solar power), they are able to power their stationary bikes and elipticals. In 2009 the Green Microgym's self-sustaining model led to a savings of 37,000 kilowatt hours, which translates to 74,000 pounds of carbon emissions, 81,400 miles not driven and 15 acres of trees planted. They also have solar panels on the building exterior, use compact fluorescent lighting and made use of eco-friendly building materials throughout the facility (including recycled rubber flooring).
Other gyms are catering to eco-conscious fitness aficionados as well, including Green Fitness Studio in New York City, NY. Members enjoy working out in an environment built from natural materials, including bamboo floors, which is one of the most sustainable flooring products on the market. Recycled rubber flooring covers the workout area, beneath re-manufactured cardio equipment and compact fluorescent lighting. Green Fitness Studio embraces their eco-friendly mission as a communal movement and not solely as a green spot for members to break a sweat. "Our gym is more than just a place to work out and lift weights; we are a total mind and body fitness center working towards a healthier community and a healthier planet," their website says.
The Greenasium in San Diego, CA opened last year with the charge to reduce waste, recycle and give back to the community, creating an all-encompassing center for wellness. "By balancing what we consume with our business practices paired with our volunteerism, we're giving back to both the community and the environment - this reduces our impact and enhances customer service," says David Chaffee, one of three owners. Like many eco-friendly gyms, The Greenasium also uses human energy to power machines in the facility. During a 30-minute workout, members can create enough energy to drive five compact fluorescent light bulbs, ten smart phones or a stereo.
If the gym doesn't tickle your eco-friendly workout fancy, there are a number of green yoga studios popping up across the country. YogaNow Gold Coast in Chicago, IL features bamboo floors, walls insulated with old denim, recycled doors with an eco-friendly stain, walls plastered with a mix of clay, straw, sand casein and mica and energy-efficient lighting. What better place to get your "om" on than a clean, eco-friendly environment?
As the move towards an environmentally aware community grows, we are seeing more facilities like these opening across the country. Many existing gyms are even undergoing reconstruction and eco-friendly face lifts to adhere to new "green" business initiatives. Check your local listings for a green gym near you, or call your gym to find out what eco-initiatives they're rolling out for the new year. Here's wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and eco-friendly start to your 2011!