Green your Workout!

Green your Workout!

Posted by Valerie McTavish on Mar 23, 2012 | Green Living

Being healthy and being fit go hand in hand, but is your exercise routine unhealthy for the planet? With a few green considerations, your workout can save energy while burning it.

The next big trend in green fitness is the eco-gym. Already a hit in Australia, Hong Kong and Oregon, these gyms have cardio machines that capture energy generated by a runner or cyclist and transfer it to the grid. This renewable energy is used to power the facility. And, as a bonus, the more energy you generate, the lower your membership fees.

It may be a while before the eco-gym makes it to Canada but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a gym that is eco-friendly and meets your green living demands.

Start by asking the gym about their energy conservation practices. Do they turn the lights and TVs off at night? Do they unplug machines during non-peak hours? Are their cleaning products eco-friendly? Do they provide filtered water for refillable bottles instead of selling plastic bottles?  Do they turn off overhead lights when the sun is already doing the work? All of these questions will help you assess just how pro-planet your gym is.

How you use the gym will also help you to determine which gym matches your green sensibilities. 24 hour gyms use quite a bit of extra energy so if you aren’t doing midnight workouts, consider not joining.  If you swim, pick a facility that uses ozone or salt instead of chemicals to keep the water clean. If you don’t swim, then avoid a gym that heats a pool. If you love a cardio workout, pick a gym with plenty of group classes to keep you off the electronic machines. And, if your routine demands that you shower at the gym, find a gym with low flow showerheads.

Being picky about what you wear is another way to green your workout. Choosing sustainable, natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, silk or wool has multiple benefits. Natural fibres naturally wick sweat, don’t retain odours after washing and often have lighter social and carbon footprints. This applies to your yoga accessories too. Look for mats made with bio-degradable, sustainably-harvested natural rubber or jute, not PVC.

When it comes to shoes, be sure to look into the manufacturer’s background for ethical sourcing and production and social responsibility. Take the Nike Re-use a Shoe program for example. They distribute donated shoes in developing nations and recycle old soles into Nike Grind which is used on playgrounds and sports fields. 

And finally, a few habit adjustments will also help green your workout. Carry a stainless steel water bottle so you don’t have to buy plastic. Plan your showers around your workouts to avoid double shower days. Use your own towel to avoid gym towels that are washed daily in hot water. Try starting your workout at your door by cycling, walking or running to the gym instead of driving.  And, when the weather is nice, skip the gym all together and enjoy a fresh air workout.

By adopting even a few of these green tips, your new eco-friendly workout will mean a healthier you and a happier planet.