Health & Fitness

New Sacramento gym turns to people power

New gym bikes add power to grid

New training bikes help gym be ecologically fit.
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New training bikes help gym be ecologically fit.

A new Sacramento gym wants users to pay the electric bill – with their sweat.

Sacramento Eco Fitness, which opened Dec. 18, is outfitted with 16 specially designed SportsArt exercise bikes that use a standard three-outlet plug to push power back into the power grid.

Gym owner and trainer Jose Avina said he was looking for a way to make his foray into the fitness business stand out. Once he decided environmentally friendly was the way to go, he said, he was attracted to the SportsArt‘s “Eco-powr” equipment because it is so easy to use.

“You could have this in your home and have it work the same way,” Avina said.

A single workout using SportsArt equipment can produce over 160 watts of electricity – enough to power a lamp.

Most exercise bikes waste all the energy used by those riding them. The SportsArt bikes use an onboard inverter to convert that kinetic energy into usable alternating current electricity.

Avina said it’s hard to say what percent of thegym’s energy bill will be offset by customers. A recent NPR story concluded that it would be impossible for an individual to power a typical home with an exercise bike.

A single workout using SportsArt equipment can produce over 160 watts of electricity, according to the equipment makers. That’s enough to power a lamp.

Eventually, several Eco Fitness classes a day will use the 16 upright cycles. SportsArt calculates that using all 16 bikes for three hours a day would generate a monthly energy savings of $20.30 a month, assuming each user generates 160 watts and energy costs 11.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

SportsArt, which is based in Taiwan, has been making exercise equipment for years. Its recent push has been into sustainable gym equipment. The new Eco-powr line, which has been on the market for about a year and a half, is the second generation of its sustainable equipment.

The new line is more efficient and has all the gear on board, said Dan O’Leary, the company’s Seattle area-based director of product development. He said about 75 percent of the energy generated turning the bike’s wheel is converted into usable energy – a big advantage over older equipment that captured around 30 percent of energy output.

He said Eco-friendly gym equipment has been most popular with young people. College and universities are some of the early adopters.

“The tech has resonated well with that group,” O’Leary said.

He said their power-generating exercise bikes and ellipticals are quality gym equipment that also allow users to actively participate in sustainability, unlike installing solar panels or efficient light bulbs, which are passive.

“You are not going to turn back the (energy) dial because you install 10 bikes,” said O’Leary, adding that it can be one of a number of steps gyms can take toward being sustainable. Power-producing bikes might be one step a hotel might take toward LEED certification, for example.

“There are all sorts of things companies do,” O’Leary said. “We want to be a part of that ecosystyem.”

According to Sacramento Eco Fitness, the bikes are just the start. Avina said he’s pursuing installing a Tesla Powerwall battery to store electricity and solar panels.

Avina has been working as a trainer after leaving active duty in the Marine Corps a year ago. Sacramento Eco Fitness, 1914  1/2 L Street, is tucked behind Mulvaney’s B & L. In addition to the training bikes, the gym features training ropes, a peg board and tires to flip and other cross-fit type equipment.

Ed Fletcher: 916-321-1269, @NewsFletch