Health and fitness clubs across the country are embracing environmentally friendly “green” practices, from refurbished treadmills to spin bikes that generate electricity to water conservation programs. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), three-quarters of gym operators see “going green” as a business priority — and an opportunity to enhance corporate social responsibility, improve efficiency, help the environment and boost the bottom line.
However, some facilities have taken the green gym philosophy one step further by adopting innovative, out-of-the-box initiatives to create a healthy and sustainable environment for their members. Here are our top picks for the nation’s “greenest” health clubs.
Thanks to exterior solar panels, plus stationary bicycles and elliptical machines that convert human energy into electricity, this Oregon-based club generates nearly 40 percent of its own power. In addition, the Green Microgym features recycled rubber flooring, treadmills that use 30 percent less electricity than regular models and power off when not in use, and member-controlled lights, televisions and fans that are turned on only when needed.
This Boston-area club has pioneered a number of groundbreaking sustainability initiatives. In addition to comprehensive recycling, water conservation and energy-efficient lighting programs, they installed New England’s largest solar hot water system and a state-of-the-art salt-water purification system for the club’s swimming pools that eliminates the need for highly toxic chlorine. The club also invested in a co-generation unit that heats the swimming pool and showers with the heat generated by burning natural gas and creating electricity at their Natick location.
A gym with a living roof? Welcome to Green Fitness Studio in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, where a 2,000-square-foot, sod-covered area allows the club to conserve rain water, reduce storm runoff, detoxify pollution and use less energy to cool the building. Other unique green features include an energy-saving mirrored glass atrium that retains hot or cool air, refurbished cardio equipment that would have otherwise been thrown away and infrared saunas that are nearly 50 percent more energy efficient than hot rock or steam saunas.
This luxury fitness chain has ramped up its green efforts, making eco-friendly changes at club locations nationwide, including water filtration and water-saving technologies, LED lighting with local and dimming controls, and zoned and programmable temperature controls. Also, construction of all new facilities will incorporate textile, paint and other finish materials that contain low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as well as recycled and rapidly renewable materials like bamboo, cork or rubber.
Located in Connecticut’s first commercial green building, indoor cycling enthusiasts know they’re not only getting a good workout, but they’re also powering the facility. Each of the 25 spin bikes is connected to an individual generator, allowing the club to create clean, renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions. Because riders can control the resistance level during a workout, they can regulate their individual renewable energy output. Who knew that a typical 20-bike group cycling class can create enough energy to light 72 homes for a month?
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