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Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

People Power: The New Alternative Energy

Changing the Face of Fitness and the Energy Crisis

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Exercise Enlightens: Mind, Body, Soul, and City!

As more and more people become aware of the state of our environment and turn to sustainable resources and practices, we are seeing innovative solutions to generate alternative energy. I went to my first spin class last year and was slightly terrified, then out of breath, and finally pleasantly surprised and motivated. What does that have to do with energy? Working towards a real, tangible goal is a huge source of encouragement when it comes to exercise. The studio I attended recognized this and introduced a brilliant eco-friendly factor: as we pedaled we were creating the electricity to light the building! The Great Outdoor Gym Company recognized this connection as well and decided to take that motivation to the next level.

In 2008, Matt and Georgie Delaney began designing and installing outdoor exercise facilities. These public gyms made fitness free and accessible for all age groups, ability levels, and socio-economic groups. That's already an amazing idea, but TGO stepped their design up a notch by creating equipment that would convert the human energy being burned into useable electricity. In 2012 TGO installed their first green energy gym, the Green Heart Zone, for the Department of Health in Hull. Georgie Delaney, Co-Founder and Creative Director, says, "The reason we've decided to do green energy gyms is we thought it was so strange that we would go to the gym and burn off energy, but yet we have an energy crisis. We've got a renewable form of energy; it's called people power."

How much power can one person actually generate? Well, everyone's fitness level will vary, but each piece of gym equipment can generate between 50 and 400 watts. The average person creates 50-100 watts. As the community becomes more physically fit, they'll create more electricity! The energy created by the Green Heart Zone is used to light the facility so the community can exercise at night, but it could also be redirected to the light grid or to local buildings. Sir George Monoux College had their TGO gym installed last month with an added motivational component. Students can charge their cellphones or tablets while they work out on ellipticals, recumbent bikes, hand bikes, and classic fitness bikes. The excess energy goes into powering the campus. TGO also pledges to plant one tree for each piece of gym equipment installed in the UK.

Within the next five years TGO plans to install 100 gyms per year. With each facility serving approximately 5,000 community members, over the next five years they'll bring free, accessible exercise and a sustainable energy source to 2.5 million people in the UK. They're looking to install the green energy gyms in parks, sports facilities, high schools, and they've even designed a model specifically for elementary schools called the Busy Bee Gym. TGO is changing the way society thinks about personal health, energy, and consumption. Georgie Delaney puts it simply, "It's a brilliant way to get fit and also help the planet."

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-- Brie Sullivan