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Why Health Clubs Should Embrace Earth Day

Sustainability and conservation are a growing concern in an uncertain world. Here’s how clubs can help provide stability and a hopeful future to their global membership.

We’re living in volatile times marked by unprecedented disruptions to our normal daily lives. Challenging times can also create a moment of clarity, a sense of purpose. We have learned the hard way that the world is a small place, interconnected and united when facing a common threat. Coming together creates a resurgence of renewal and hope.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, the world will once again contemplate the state of our shared environment. Climate change and its effects will take on greater importance as we move forward into the new decade. Consumers, young and old, increasingly have the condition of the planet on their minds. In a survey by Pew Research Center, 74% of Americans believe that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” Pew also found that 61% of U.S. adults say that they always try to live in ways that protect the environment, and say it bothers them “a lot” when others throw away things that could be recycled.

Pew has found similar attitudes among the global population. A recent survey from the firm found that a majority of countries around the world see climate change as a major threat to their nation, “more than any other issue the survey asked about.”

When Earth Day was founded in 1970, it struck many people to be a vestige of 1960’s hippie activism, but over the years it has emerged as a key consciousness-raising rallying point for environmental action. Today, 190 countries participate in Earth Day activities, motivating as many as one billion people to become engaged in helping to maintain a healthy environment.

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the issues surrounding this annual event have never been more urgent. Climate change threatens global stability from food production to weather patterns. Event organizers plan to call on governments, multinational corporations, and individual citizens to take a more active role in creating a cleaner, healthier planet.

What does this have to do with the fitness industry? We know that health clubs are important community centers, deeply embedded into the social fabric of their surroundings. Eventually global issues become local issues, and health clubs need to continue the role they’ve always had: To lead on important issues instead of following the herd.

Closing the ‘Intention-Action Gap’

Fitness professionals of all types are well aware of the behavioral contradictions of people who fall short of meeting their goals. Psychologists have a term for this: the intention-action gap.

According to Behavioral Science, the intention-action gap is “when we have every intention of doing something with the knowledge and understanding of why to back it up, yet somehow it never happens.”

Sales and marketing Sports Art Fitness Gym Finland column

Personal trainers don’t need psychology degrees to explain this paradox of human behavior. As common as the intention-action gap is, closing it can be tricky. Luckily, a few successful motivational techniques have emerged.

One of those is “social influence.” It’s especially effective when it comes to environmental issues, according to Harvard Business Review. Social influence is a partner to the “nudge” theory, where you create easy entry points and peer-based motivating factors to convince people to act.

One study found that there was a 65% increase in the purchase of sustainable products when shoppers were informed that other people were buying them. Other research has found similar results. One experiment discovered that when students were informed that their peers were ditching their cars for sustainable transportation, those opting to give up driving for their commute increased five-fold. When more people participate in a social action, others follow suit.

The timing has never been better for nudging people to adopt behavior encouraging sustainability. One frustration of environmental activists over the years is convincing people that their individual behavior can make a difference. To many people, climate change seems like an insurmountable problem, one that their personal action can’t influence.

As the last few weeks have demonstrated, individual behavior is immensely important when protecting the welfare of others, even on a global basis. One person can make a difference. When health clubs offer a nudge toward sustainability, their members can feel like they’re contributing to a more profound shared goal.

Bringing Sustainability to Health Clubs

SportsArt is an industry leader in sustainable exercise equipment, featuring their patented “watts-to-grid” ECO-POWR line of cardio units that use the energy generated by the exerciser to feed power back into the club’s electrical system. Playing a starring role in SportsArt’s collection of ECO-POWR units is the VERDE, the “world’s first energy producing treadmill” and the VERSO, a three-in-one cross trainer equipped with the same capabilities.

Now joining the lineup is an energy-producing indoor cycle. Recently, SportsArt helped create a new sustainable club concept, an indoor cycling studio in St. Petersburg, FL, called Centrifuge that exclusively uses SportsArt’s ECO-POWR cycles.

Sales and marketing Sports Art Centrifuge column

Founded by Emma Baiz, Centrifuge features 25 energy-producing cycles, creating, in Baiz’s words, “the world’s most powerful cycling studio.” A typical Centrifuge class can generate up to 6,000 watt-hours, based on 240 watts per hour (this varies due to intensity level).

To Baiz, it’s about keeping people fit but also conscious of the role they can play in fighting climate change.

“Beyond the obvious benefit of collectively reducing our gym’s carbon footprint, the advanced technology developed by SportsArt brings the results of our efforts to a very tangible level for members,” she says. “We want to learn and evolve with the local community to ensure that we are always moving in the right direction for maximum personal fitness and environmental awareness.”

It’s this dual purpose that creates such a powerful incentive for everyday consumers. It takes social influence to the next level, narrowing the intention-action gap and initiating meaningful change.

With the motto “one workout, one class can power a movement,” Centrifuge has created a concept that other clubs can emulate as we move further into a more activist future. The world is quickly changing, and people are going to be more in tune, not just with their own personal health, but with the interconnected role all of us play in the global community.

In the year of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, health clubs can prove their commitment to this important global movement as their members become more invested in the environmental health of the planet.

To learn more about the SportsArt’s ECO-POWR indoor cycles and other products, visit their website or call 800-709-1400.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org