Human hamsters generate gym power

Want to shrink your waistline while shrinking your carbon footprint? To capitalize on your calorie-burning workouts, fitness centers worldwide are now harnessing human power to generate electricity for exercise equipment.

Green machines capture the kinetic energy of gym goers and use it to power other equipment - like stereo systems, lighting, TV sets or the machine itself - while excess power is stored in a battery.

Besides calories, here's what you burn:

  • Electricity generated per person in a 30-minute workout: 50-100 watts
  • Monetary value of 1 hour of exercise in D.C. as of June 2010: 1-2 cents
  • Carbon emissions saved by America's first human-powered gym, the Green Microgym, in 2009: 74,000 pounds (that's a 60 percent reduction)
  • Power value of a 30-minute workout at Texas State University's gym: 3 hours on a laptop

Here at George Washington University, the Lerner Health and Wellness Center recently installed several EcoMill treadmills, which use zero electricity. Stay tuned for a video showing GW's new equipment in action!

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.