Are we on the verge of embracing real people power?

 By Ricci Bryson

As a regular gym goer, and aspirant carbon footprint reducer, I was delighted to read due to the efforts of the tech guys of the world, there’s the potential that not only could I be sweating my socks off at the gym in my pursuit of health and vanity, but converting the lifting, pulling and crunching into energy of the electrical variety.

We’re very much used to all manner of renewable energy technologies here, everything from Solar to Hydro, but human powered kinetic energy isn’t something we hear of very much. When I mean kinetic energy I’m not talking about those old boring physics lessons about energy, gravitational pull, even the old E=MC2, I’m talking about people power – the energy we produce when doing something as simple as running or cycling.

Around the world, gyms and fitness centres are popping up with revolutionary energy producing gym equipment which have been installed to help the gym capitalise on the kinetic energy ‘wasted’ during exercise.

It’s international ‘green gyms’ that we could be looking to for inspiration at present. The  Green Micro Gym  in Portland is not only a fully working gym, but it was also the very first kinetic powered gym in the world. The Green Micro Gym offers its members a completely green gym experience located in the centre of Portland. The unique thing about Portland’s Micro Gym is that the actual energy of the members significantly powers the building.  

The gym claims that by working out moderately for a hour on a machine, each individual would generate enough energy to power five CFL light bulbs or to charge 10 mobile phones.  Similar to the Green Micro Gym, there is also a green revolution going on in Hong Kong with their own version. The California Health Club also uses specially configured exercise equipment which captures the energy you create while pedalling, converting it into electricity and channelling it into the power outlets.

It’s reassuring in the time-pressured modern age that I could also do my part for the environment by using all that energy to power the gym. Well, not literally just yet – South London hasn’t quite caught the bug that can be seen in the likes of Hong Kong or Oregon – but there’s hope. Perhaps a spot of light lobbying by the step machines might help.

Of course, we may not see any human powered gyms popping up across the UK anytime soon, but it’s great to see that we’re starting to think out of the box (and selfishly, in the kind of places I like to hang out) in terms of renewable energy sources and playing our part to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.