It looks like more than the New Year's Even 2009 sign at Times Square can be powered by pedaling exercisers; the Green MicroGym, in Portland, OR, takes full advantage of pedal power too.
The Green Microgym's goal is to be carbon neutral business and to use only solar power and energy created by clients. Most fitness equipment contains a spinning wheel which can be used just like a windmill for creating energy. At the Green Microgym, the treadmills and exercise bikes are connected to batteries that store the energy exercisers have vigorously created. The energy stored in the batteries is converted to an electrical current that can then be used to power appliances, using a piece of equipment called the Human Dynamo. While the energy created might be free, the batteries and converters are still costly and prohibitive for many gyms during this economic downturn.
The Green Microgym uses solar power to fulfill a third of its energy needs, and they are also savvy about saving energy. They save about 50 percent of their energy costs, by powering down gym equipment and televisions when not in use. The gym owner remains optimistic and feels that most gyms will be carbon neutral in 20 years. I think if we all had to pedal to keep the lights on, we would have much more respect for energy conservation as well as for our power-ful legs. Let me know how you feel about the carbon neutral gym in the comments section below.