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Green gyms

by mel starrs on November 15, 2007

in Uncategorized

As a former gymrat, this idea has it’s appeal for me:

A pioneering project at a health club in Hong Kong takes the excess energy from Lycra-clad gym members and uses it to power the fluorescent lights overhead.

The system involves rewiring the generators in gym machines to capture excess energy and running wires under the carpets to a car battery that can store the power.

I have a couple of reservations though. Firstly, it smacks of hamsters on a wheel. Then I suppose treadmills smack of that anyway, so may as well put it to use.

Secondly, there is a perverse energy equation at work here. In order to run 45 minutes at 7.5mph, an adult male of 12 stone would need to consume an extra 640 calories than say sitting reading (figures from the ever useful caloriesperhour.com). This has to come from food (unless you’re trying to lose weight) which needs to be produced, which has impacts on land use and energy use and lots of other knock-on effects (let’s not even get started on the carbon benefits of becoming a 100-mile vegan*…). The article doesn’t give the other side of the energy equation, but I suspect it wouldn’t balance.

Nothing’s ever easy, is it?

*i.e. a vegan who doesn’t eat any animal products at all and only eats foods produced within a 100-mile radius of home. Very low carbon, but virtually impossible to do. I’ve tried (briefly – now back to regular meat eating omnivore). Veganism without tinned pulses from Italy. You’re pretty much left with potatoes and apples. Not exactly a balanced diet (not much protein without pulses) and the dithering dance that comes from analysis paralysis examining labels in exquisite detail was just too much…