MISSOULA – Have you ever thought about generating energy while you’re burning energy? It’s probably crossed your mind as you’ve worked out, thinking, "it’s too bad" we can’t put all this juice to use.
The Source Health Club is bringing the latest combination of exercise and ecological awareness online in time for Earth Day. The club is the first in the Northwest to add cycles, ellipticals and treadmills from Seattle-based SportsArt ECO-Power.
Unlike traditional exercise stations, which suck power like there’s no tomorrow, the ECO-Power units allow you to actually put power back in the grid. A simple disc brake and electromagnetic system similar to the tech in a Toyota Prius feeds athlete’s expended energy to an inverter back into the gym’s power system.
"So, usually when you go into a gym the treadmills that we have huge motors on them," said DAllas Neil at The Source Health Club. "They each take a dedicated 20-amp circuit. And we’ve been looking for about 5-years to find something that would actually put power back into the grid."
"So these treadmills produce 200 watts-an-hour back into the power grid and help offset our power bills. But they also help people get excited about being sustainable."
"You know you can stand on one of these machines and it’s actually using an electromagnet and a disc brake to help capture your energy that you normally use working out and putting it right back in to the grid."
"We see this as the future of the health club industry. Just these 6-pieces of equipment we hope will offset about 10-percent of our power. But if we replace everything we could get way over 50-percent. More effective even than a solar panel."
This weekend you can try it out as The Source sponsors a "1000 Watt Challenge" from 10-to-2 with the goal of generating that much power during the event.
Day passes for The Source will be free all weekend and all sign up fees will be waived with the donation of any clothing for garment recycling efforts by MontSoul.com (Mountain States Textile Recycling).
There will also be a big Earth Day Celebration Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. with 50-exhibitors and activities at Home Resource, next to the Source on Russell Street.