The World of Sports: Eco-friendly exercise equipment sets new standard for gyms

(Lauren Schatzman | Daily Trojan)

We’re back. For me, the beginning of the fall semester brings a lot of “lasts.” I already had my last first day of classes. I’m looking forward to next week’s football home opener against Rice University, which will also be my last. And I suppose this is my last opening column of the semester. 

Last year I began this column writing about stadiums such as SoFi and Climate Pledge Arena seeking to host events in more sustainable ways. I went on to talk about athletes endorsing cryptocurrencies and pollution affecting athletes’ health. These stories certainly won’t be the last time sports and climate change make headlines – so I wanted to keep talking about them.

Sports can and have served as an outlet for athletes to voice their concerns about the rapidly deteriorating ozone layer and humankind’s role in the climate crisis. Furthermore, professional sports organizations, particularly those run by billionaires with money invested in coal and oil, must adapt their practices in order to decrease their carbon emissions and do their part in mitigating climate change. 

An unfortunate reality of climate change is that, at an individual level, we can only do so much – ultimately, the carbon footprints of corporate giants outdo the actions of everyday people as the climate crisis grows exponentially more dire. 

SportsArt, an exercise equipment company, is at the forefront of a unique opportunity to use exercise to save energy at a local level.

SportsArt machines harness the energy stored when someone uses an elliptical machine or stationary bike and pumps it back into the building’s power grid in an effort to offset the building’s electrical usage. By using an AC current to send the power back into the building’s grid, SportsArt’s method doesn’t require intensive installation. One simple plugs in an elliptical or bike, starts working out and  instantly creating energy that the building can use instead of relying on more harmful ways of obtaining energy such as natural gas. 

It’s a fantastic concept, and one that has many climate advocates intrigued. In a world where everyone uses oil and gas and throws away plastics and other harmful materials, SportsArt’s technology offers a chance for the average gym-goer to contribute to a human-harnessed energy economy. 

And should you need extra motivation on a long bike ride, SportsArt even displays how many watts the user is producing in real time. Some gyms, such as Sacramento Eco Fitness are already incentivizing going that extra mile, offering tiered discounts to members depending on how many watts they produce. 

If there has ever been a no-brainer, grandslam, touchdown idea, it’s this one. While SportsArt equipment is expensive, there is potential for a return on investment with a lowered electricity bill. There are thousands of gyms across the country and hundreds of thousands in the world. Additionally, buildings make up for 30-40% of all energy consumption. Unlike wind or solar energy, which require vast amounts of land and expensive construction projects, there is already plenty of real estate in the world that can play host to this equipment. It’s just an issue of replacement. 

Unfortunately, energy-generating bikes or ellipticals cannot save the world. A one-hour workout might produce enough energy to power a laptop for a couple of hours, but the decision to include more energy-producing exercise equipment is something that all gyms (looking at you, Lyon Center) should consider. Such equipment saves money every year and serves as a reminder for each person using it that, albeit small, everyone has a role in combating climate change. 

One can hope that over time the technology will improve to incorporate human-burned energy even more efficiently. While the bucket of carbon and methane gasses that have been released into the atmosphere is already overflowing, and it feels overly simplified to say that every drop counts, I’ll still say it – every drop counts when it comes to climate change. While we must continually push for corporations and large companies to reduce their carbon footprint, we must also find value and meaning in reducing our own carbon emissions.