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Entries in green (11)


EcoGym Galvanizes the Community by ‘Surfing the Wave of Sustainability’

This is an IHRSA featured post, brought to you by SportsArt.

The fitness industry is driven by passion. You still need to run a successful business, but fitness professionals pride themselves on a commitment to a larger mission: bringing health and wellness to the world’s population. By offering ways to help prevent chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, a health club is a private business serving a public good. 

Continue reading "EcoGym Galvanizes the Community by ‘Surfing the Wave of Sustainability.'"

Click to read more ...


Going Green Redux: The Rise of Environmentally Friendly Fitness 

“Going green.”

Over the last decade, the phrase has become commonplace in the health and fitness industry. The idea of an “environmentally friendly” business no longer seems novel. In today’s market, where environmental responsibility and sustainability are values that many members want—indeed, expect—their clubs to embrace, many owners and operators have made great strides.

They’ve learned, and continued to learn, along the way.

The lessons, sometimes, have been taught by bumps or outright failures, when lofty green goals have had to be repurposed, or even abandoned. Going green comes at a cost—some of the products and renovations involved aren’t inexpensive. On the other hand, recycling and making use of alternative or updated operating systems can demonstrate immediate, cost-saving benefits.

‘Greening a Gym’

Eight years ago, Adam Boesel decided that it was the right time, and Portland, OR, the right place, to launch his dream business—a truly green gym. And, even though it was his first entrepreneurial venture, he aimed high, envisioning a club where members could generate all of the electricity needed to run the facility simply by working out.

Boesel’s quest began with a simple Google search. He entered the term “green gym,” and found YouTube videos of a facility in Hong Kong that was retrofitting its elliptical machines so that they would generate electricity. “I thought, great, I’ll do that,” he says.

That’s when The Green Microgym was born.

“Back then, everything was experimental,” he continues. “I was retrofitting equipment. I was literally a pioneer.”

Resonating with Environmentally Conscious Consumers

Charting new territory in Portland was successful. Boesel’s environmentally friendly health club was a hit in this savvy market, where residents embrace the idea of sustainability—i.e., supporting long-term ecological balance by not harming the environment or depleting natural resources.

One location led to a second and, then, to a third—a series of fitness-only clubs ranging in size from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet.

That’s not to suggest, however, that running a truly green gym was always easy, or that Boesel’s original goals were achieved. In fact, they weren’t. Early on, he discovered that it wasn’t possible to generate all of the electricity required from member workouts.

In 2014, he sold two of the facilities to focus on his mission: that of “getting green fitness equipment in every facility, and increasing energy understanding and engagement, especially among green developers.” The third club is licensed to a new operator.

Boesel, a recognized industry expert in the field of sustainability, now serves as an authorized dealer for SportsArt, a Taiwanese equipment manufacturer. This IHRSA associate-member company produces a green line of cycles and ellipticals, called ECO-POWR that convert the wattage generated by exercise into AC power. Any excess electricity is fed back into the power grid through the unit’s plug, which is connected to a standard 120 VAC power outlet.

The equipment that Boesel once dreamed about, and had to create for himself, is now a reality at SportsArt.

Continue reading "Going Green Redux" in the October issue of Club Business International.


The Fitness Singularity Is Here—And It’s Awesome

This is a Club Business Exchange featured post, brought to you by SportsArt.

We live in an age of anxiety. We worry about the changing global climate, public health, and the speed at which technology is transforming our lives. Sometimes it seems like it’s all going too fast, spinning out of control. 

It’s hard to believe that a single technological development could address both our quest for more renewable energy sources, and better tools to fight obesity and chronic diseases. But SportsArt, a pioneer in green technology, set out to create a line of fitness products that did just that: deliver optimum fitness results without a measurable carbon footprint. They succeeded—and then some—by creating ECO-POWR: a line of health club equipment that harnesses human activity and converts it back to the power grid. 

Rarely has man and machine combined to create such an elegant solution to multiple problems. Think of it as the fitness singularity: where technology combines with human abilities to create a better world. 

Human Energy Meets Human Ingenuity 

Turning human activity into a renewable energy source takes state-of-the-art technology, but to make it practical for a health club setting, SportsArt knew that their ECO-POWR line needed to be as easy to install and manage as traditional equipment. Using micro-inverters, similar to what’s used in solar panels and wind turbines, the stationary bikes and ellipticals don’t have any extra cords or boxes (external power devices)—they simply plug into a wall outlet. 

That’s it. Then the power generated by using the fitness equipment goes right back into the facility’s power grid.

Using humans as a renewable energy source is also good for the bottom line. One workout can produce as many as 160 kilowatts of electricity. That significantly adds up during the course of a day, creating a pleasing complement of benefits: the member’s health improves as the health-club’s energy costs decline—and all for the benefit of the environment. 

Appealing to the Eco-conscious—and Millennials 

SportsArt’s technology edge isn’t isolated to their green outlook. The company has created a revolutionary touchscreen technology called Senza that’s intuitive and versatile. With Senza, exercisers can easily and quickly find their desired workout and entertainment in the intuitive touchscreen controls. With Senza Journeys, you can work out in a number of scenic environments, from the Golden Gate Bridge to nature trails, and Senza is also customizable, so the club owner can personalize it to reflect the culture of his or her gym. 

ECO-POWR can open up a whole new marketplace for health clubs. SportsArt’s powerful green equipment and the Senza experience are uniquely appealing to millennials and other populations who may otherwise not consider joining a gym. In fact, some club owners use the equipment to offer discounts to member who generate the most energy. 

Despite its groundbreaking technology, SportsArt equipment is a money-saver, backed by a best-in-class warranty. To learn more about SportsArt and ECO-POWR, including videos of the equipment in operation, visit


How Green Do You Want to Be?

The Longfellow Clubs in Massachusetts use Longfellow’s chlorine-free pools.Are you stuck in “going green” limbo?

Have you been thinking about moving in that direction for years but find you don’t know where - or how - to start?

Yet, the notion of going green is appealing because you have a sense that making your business environmentally friendly would benefit both your business and your members.

At the same time, you haven’t decided how much time and money you want to invest in green initiatives. You fear it may take too much of both.

Read the CBI story on the many benefits and options when it comes to a green club.

Click to read more ...


It can be easy to be green

Solar panels on the Tucson Racquet and Fitness roof.The health and fitness industry, and employing sustainable and green practices, would seem to go hand-in-hand. The industry is about being healthy, clean, and running at optimal efficiency; so, a club doing the same for the environment, and one’s surrounding area, seems to make a lot of sense.

Many club owners and managers feel the same way. And there are countless reasons why a company would make the decision to be green and conscious of the earth and their environs.

Case in point, check out some of the reasons of these four clubs:

  • Chuck Richards, Sunset Athletic Club, Portland, Ore. – While planning an expansion he was astounded at the utility costs so he “went on a mission to become more aware” and incorporated green measures in the new construction that would save the club money in the long run.
  • Jim Zupancic, Stafford Hill Club, Tualatin, Ore. - When constructing the club two years ago he wanted to make sure he was compatible with the surrounding wetlands so the “personality of the club is very much intertwined with nature” he said. He also had a goal of being Silver LEED Certified, which he accomplished.
  • Bill Selby, Tucson Racquet and Fitness, Tucson, Ariz. – Being a family-oriented club it was important for him to show his members that he is thinking about not just the environment but them, too. For example, he has green products outside for the safety of children during kids’ camps.
  • Patrick Palmer, Club Northwest, Grants Pass, Ore. – Seven years ago the Green Team was created for “better stewardship of our environment.” Volunteers help separate plastics, papers and glass, in addition to many in-house initiatives.

“When you talk about sustainability in our business, it's sustainability of your life,” Zupancic explained. “And when you talk about sustainability of nature, it’s completely synergistic. I think it is a very consistent message that we respect not just our bodies, but all things around us.”

Read on to see how the four clubs are saving the environment, as well as costs.


Green with Pride

By Jennifer H. McInerney

As CBI’s resident “Green QuLaury Hammeleen,” I try to view the health club business through green-tinted glasses. While looking ahead to Earth Day 2011, this Friday, a pair of familiar names caught my eye: Laury Hammel and Myke Farricker.

You may recognize them as the cofounders of the Longfellow Clubs, a four-facility family of clubs near Boston, Massachusetts, that serves 12,000 members. And, if you’ve been paying close attention to CBI, then you know that they’re trailblazers in environmentally friendly—and forward-thinking—club operations (see “The Green Club Effect,” which originally appeared in the June 2008 edition of CBI).

Most recently, these business partners received IHRSA’s 2011 Outstanding Community Service award, which is bestowed upon “an individual or group who has made a longstanding commitment to making a difference in, and beyond, his or her community.”

In many ways, Hammel and Farricker fit the bill, but especially in light of their commitment to energy conservation and sustainable business practices. Since 1980, they’ve taken an environmental lead in their community, and in the health club industry—decades before the notion of “green” practices even registered on the radar of most mainstream businesses. Hammel is also the founder of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Greater Boston, an initiative that helps small businesses adopt more environmentally responsible business practices.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to visit the Longfellow Clubs’ flagship location in Wayland, Massachusetts, and was impressed at every turn. From water-saving showerheads to a rock-salt-filtered swimming pool, the Longfellow Clubs are loaded with eco-friendly features. One of the latest—and perhaps also the one that elevates the company into a class by itself—is the solar hot water heating system at the Wayland club. The state-of-the-art rooftop solar-panel system, which has been in operation for a little over two years, is one of the largest solar arrays in New England. It heats over 50% of the water for the showers and swimming pool; lowers energy costs by approximately $10,000 annually; and dramatically reduces the club’s carbon footprint.

What’s especially remarkable about the greening of the Longfellow Clubs is that it’s been so thoughtfully and gradually done—one important step at a time—that the ongoing transformation hasn’t interfered with the business or the culture of the club. On the contrary, it’s strengthened both indelibly. All of the members I met during my visit to the Longfellow Club were enthusiastic and proud of their club’s commitment to recycling, energy conservation, and sustainability.

Congratulations to Hammel and Farricker on this well-deserved honor!


A Greener Year Ahead

By Jennifer H. McInerney

As the resident “Green Queen” here at CBI, I’ve seen just about every green product that’s come along. While I’m impressed and encouraged by almost every new innovation and iteration, I’m especially heartened by a green club franchise that’s taking off in Portland, Oregon.

The Green Microgym, which first opened its doors in the Alberta neighborhood in 2008, became a franchise in November with the opening of the Belmont location. Both clubs are 3,000 square feet in size and feature electricity-generating cardio equipment produced by Resource Fitness. Judging by the first club, which reduced its carbon footprint by 60%, the second is on track to be another green success story.

Adam Boesel, whom I refer to as an “eco-minded entrepreneur” in my upcoming January edition of Green Scene, is the founder of The Green Microgym and cofounder of Resource Fitness. The club is the culmination of his initial vision, while the manufacturing company was essentially born out of necessity to equip his vision with the appropriate human-powered cardio machines.

“The equipment has low-energy touch screens, Web capability, Internet TV,” Boesel reports. “It makes for a nice user experience with energy efficiency, and it really changes your workout—you’re creating electricity, plus having fun.”

Certainly, there are many IHRSA member companies, large and small, that are manufacturing energy-efficient and/or electricity-generating equipment that feeds power back to the grid—and I say, the more, the merrier!

It’s also my hope that more clubs will continue to embrace green practices that help to conserve energy, reuse and/or recycle renewable materials, and protect precious environmental resources.

If you and your club haven’t already adopted a greener lifestyle, perhaps you can add it to your list of resolutions for 2011.

Happy New Year from all of us at CBI and CBI Unbound!

See you in 2011…


A Christmas Tree with a Healthy Glow

By Patricia Glynn

If your gym is anything like mine, it’s probably all decked out with snowmen, ornaments, lush poinsettias, and other seasonal trappings. All signs point toward this being the most wonderful, joyous time of the year.

Yet, while holiday decorations are admittedly merry and pleasant to behold, they’re more apt to fill one’s head with visions of sugarplums (and candy canes, and sugar cookies, and gingerbread houses) than thoughts of fitness. That is, of course, unless the display in question happens to honor the season while serving as a tribute to active living.

Enter the “Tree-Cycle.”

The 23’ tree, constructed from 100 bicycles, serves as the centerpiece of The Rocks, a popular shopping center in Sydney, Australia. It not only twinkles merrily in the night, but it also, simultaneously, celebrates movement. After all, gazing upon the innovative exhibit’s dozens of bikes, you can’t help but imagine yourself zipping along with the wind in your hair, the wheels spinning furiously beneath you.

All told, the project took eight weeks to design and build. It’s also “green” in more ways than one—all the parts were supplied by locally-based CMA Recycling and the bikes’ frames were painted a bold green shade to mimic a real tree. The tires, too, got a dousing of color—a rainbow of shades make them appear as if they are festive ornaments. Even a star, fashioned from various recycled bicycle parts, sparkles atop the highest bough.

Overall, it is, perhaps, the ultimate fitness-centric holiday display. 

And it leads us to wonder: how might your club celebrate the holidays in a fitness-minded way? Could a medicine-ball snowman or maybe some cheerfully colored thera-band bows get your members in the holiday spirit while also inspiring them to keep fit?


Small Club Sustainability Tool Kit

As promised, here’s a “bonus” companion piece to the Green Feature in October CBI.

Courtesy of Bruce Buckbee, Leisure Green, LLC

Even if you’re not a big club chain, there are plenty of green tools that you can employ in your business to save money, enhance your reputation with members, and present a strong, responsible image in your community. They also help to reduce the overall impact of our industry on the environment. The following are just a few of the larger “impact” projects that you can do:

Energy Savings:

√ Participate in lighting rebate programs that may be available for small businesses through your local power company. For example, in Massachusetts, one leading utility, NStar, has a small business lighting retrofit program that reimburses customers up to 85% of the cost for putting in energy-efficient lighting. For many businesses that have participated, this represents a 50-75% ROI, plus lower electric bills for years to come.

√ Even if your local utility does not offer a commercial lighting rebate program, you can replace your old incandescent and strip florescent lighting with more efficient compact florescent or LED lighting. The payback is inside 12 months in many cases.

√ The rule of thumb is that 40% of all building energy is consumed by HVAC equipment, so make sure your equipment is operating as efficiently as possible. Have your HVAC contractor service your equipment on a regular maintenance schedule, including replacing filters and belts. Experience shows that regular equipment maintenance pays for itself multiple times over in reduced energy usage and extended equipment life (not to mention the savings from expensive “emergency” calls to an HVAC contractor).

√ If you have a club with more than 20,000 square feet and multiple rooftop HVAC units, you may want to consider installing an energy management system (EMS). An EMS is designed to monitor and manage temperature, HVAC equipment function, and lighting to maximize energy efficiency. Costs on a basic EMS can be as low as $5,000 with an ROI of 30-50%, if managed properly.

√ Remember how your father and mother always nagged you to “turn out the lights?” Well, that folk wisdom applies more than ever today. At little to no cost, other than some management time (and probably some nagging), you can develop a set of written procedures for your staff regarding turning off lights, managing room temperatures, closing windows, turning off saunas and steam rooms at closing, and reducing parking lot lighting after hours. The resulting discipline can mean a 5-7% consumption reduction and hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings to your business.

√ If your club is a large enough energy user and is located in a deregulated market, you may be able to purchase your energy and/or gas at a reduced cost through competitive bidding. There are many energy brokers who may be able to help you reduce your kilowatt hours and therm costs and save you money. I believe some of these companies are IHRSA Associate Members. And if it’s important to you, they can also help you purchase “green power” (energy produced by renewable sources) or can help you secure renewable energy credits (RECs) that are tradable.

Water Savings:

While cost savings from water-reduction strategies are not nearly as great as energy, they’re still important to pay attention to. In many municipalities, water use and sewerage fees are linked—so reductions in water use also translate to sewer savings. The key savings opportunities associated with water are toilets, urinals, and showerheads.

√ While clubs usually do not replace toilets very often, if you happen to replace them in a renovation or expansion, you can change out old ones (3.5gpf) with low-flow toilets (1.0-1.2gpf). The same is true for urinals. Another option is to add flushometers to urinals, which can save water and money.

√ Another area of savings is low-flow showerheads (1.5-2.0 gpm). This equipment has been around for quite some time, but it hasn’t always been durable nor has it satisfied members’ desire for a “real” shower. However, some companies now produce showerheads that are both durable and high-performing. And, depending on the number of showers in your club, they can save you a significant amount of water over the course of a year.


Daily club waste tends to be limited to member trash and office paper. However, from time to time, you will need to dispose of old exercise equipment, boxes and pallets from deliveries, worn-out towels, bulk plastics, etc. The following are some alternatives to throwing everything in the dumpster:

√ Recycle: most municipalities now require recycling of paper, cardboard, glass, plastics and metal. Many also have single-stream recycling, which means that the club does not need to separate paper, plastic, glass, etc. Place well-marked recycling bins throughout the club and offices and actively participate in community recycling efforts.

√ Reduce your use of virgin print paper (and save money) through printing double-sided copies, increasing paperless communications, and purchasing paper with 30% or more recycled content.

√ When disposing of larger items, including old exercise equipment, computers, and other office equipment, make sure the carting company is taking them to a recycling station.

√ When you’re doing any kind of club expansion or renovation, make sure your contractor hires a demolition company that will separate and transport materials that are recyclable, including wood, carpeting, tile, concrete, wiring, and insulation. This helps to reclaim materials that can be reused and also reduces the volume of waste going into landfills. And it should cost you no more than traditional methods of disposal.

These are only a few of the many strategies that small clubs (and large clubs, too) can employ to reduce their environmental impact, save money, and build credibility and respect in their communities…and be green!


Going Green Helps Clubs Save Lots of Green

By Jennifer H. McInerney

Even though the leaves may be starting to change color, we’re going to keep things green here at CBI throughout the month of October. That’s right: our latest issue, due out on Friday, will include our annual green feature (written by yours truly, CBI’s “Green Queen”). This year, I spoke to some of the industry’s leading global club companies about something that sounds scarier than it is: a green audit.

The familiar expression may be “Time is money,” but let’s face it: energy is money, too. The more successful clubs are at reducing their carbon footprint, the more they’ll reduce their bottom line as well.

If you’re looking to improve your club’s energy efficiency (and bottom line), a green audit is a good place to start—especially if you’re scratching your head in confusion over where to begin. A green audit will take into account all of the various areas within your club and pinpoint exactly where you can reap significant savings and—in the case of installing new equipment and systems—generate a high return on investment (ROI). It will examine, among other things, electricity, water, waste, HVAC, the use of environmentally friendly products and practices, and indoor air quality.

This step-by-step approach has worked well for Town Sports International, Fitness First, and Les Mills New Zealand, as you’ll see when you read the October issue. Without spoiling your CBI-reading experience, let me just say that an assessment of this kind has helped each of these companies to set and work toward their long-term green goals—with some impressive results already.

And stay tuned for a “Small Club Sustainability Tool Kit,” right here on CBI Unbound on Friday…

For additional green resources, courtesy of IHRSA, click here.