Green Exercise: Let’s exercise our way to energy independence.

Green Living — By on December 2, 2008 12:55 PM

By Alix Shutello

Think of all the places out there where there is gym equipment. Aside from some of the large fitness chains like Bally Total Fitness, Sport and Health, and Gold’s Gym, and everywhere from your local tennis club, community fitness center, and even our home gyms there are thousands of machines being used or in some cases sitting there waiting to be used. What else can you find in some or all of these places? Large flat screen TVs, computers and vending machines. All of them use tons of electricity.

It is not surprising that in Portland, Oregon, where green living is second nature, that there is a gym that’s gone green. The Green Microgym uses human energy to power the equipment. The concept is absolutely ingenious. You have all of these people, who are using exercise equipment to burn calories and get fit, actually generating some electricity at the same time. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

Adam Boesel, founder of the Green Microgym, thinks that way exactly. With the correct electrical configuration, his stationary bikes generate power that run the stereos, for example. There is also an exercise machine that can generate up to 100 watts of electricity an hour (that is enough energy to light up an entire room!). The machine has four seats where people interested in low impact exercise can use hand cranks and/or foot pedals. The gym is also equipped with SportsArt, EcoPowr treadmills that use 30% less electricity.

Boesel’s gym also goes the extra mile in design and other product utilization by using cork flooring, double flush toilets, and non-toxic soaps – making the gym a truly green entity.

Other Trends Setters in Green Exercise

While the Green Microgym is an example of a commercial gym that’s gone green, individuals are making an impact in their own homes. Mother Earth News featured a story about Linda Archibald who not only lives off the grid but who generates her own electricity by pedaling on a bike generator to generate electricity for common household items.

Archibald will pedal an hour to generate the power she needs for everything from her blender to her computer. The time she spends pedaling is not to gain fitness but rather to keep her in check with her commitment to being green. When Archibald’s kids visit, they cannot dry their hair or watch movies on their mother’s laptop without spending some time on the bike. The whole family gets a little exercise while seeing firsthand how their own energy can be used to create it.

On the other hand, David Butcher was so into the process of generating his own electricity and getting a work out at the same time he built his own product, the PPPM (pedal power prime mover). Butcher, a client services director for a Web agency and biking enthusiast, developed the bike generator back in 1976. The PPPM (a bike with a large front wooden wheel) cranks electricity as he exercises each morning. The machine generates the electricity he uses to power his home office.

Windstream Power

Windstream Power (Vermont, USA), one of the leaders in human power generation, sells two products that have gained interest among the energy conscious. Their most popular product, the Bike Power Generator, quickly converts a regular bicycle to an electricity generator. The Human Power Generator is a hand crank that has gained global recognition. According to Mother Jones Earth, 300 of the generators were sent to Siberian forestry camps to power communications equipment.

Bike Powered Generator

Human Powered Generator

From the Windstream Power homepage.
See more about this product at

Human Power is Powerful.

In our country, we use so much electricity that we’d need to bike for hours to generate enough electricity to power our homes, but the basic premise is that we can generate electricity so we might as well try. When I go to my gym, I would love to know that while I am running on the treadmill, while listening to my Ipod and watching the large screen TV, that I am actually generating electricity or that when I am at home with the lights on, fan blowing, TV on mute, and running on my treadmill that I could be doing some good for the planet instead of just myself.

Power Consumption of Typical Appliances:
Most of us can generate 100 watts an hour

Small TV 100 watts
Large TV 200 watts
Laptop PC 10 watts
Desktop PC 75 watts
Stereo 20 watts
Charging a cellphone 5 watts
Hi Effic Desk lamp 15 watts

Taken from


Windstream Power, leading producer of human-powered devices.

Ecovergence, producer of Pedal-a-Watt Stationary Bike Generator.

Wiki on human power generation products

Wiki on human foot power generation

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