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Green Fitness: Pedaling for Power

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Yesterday, April 22, 2010, CNN highlighted the use of specially outfitted gym equipment to generate electricity in an article entitled, Pedal Power is Fueling Green Awareness.

“A 30-minute workout creates about 50 watts, which is enough electricity to run a laptop for one hour or a phone charger for six full charges or one energy-efficient light bulb for 2.5 hours," according to ReRev, a company that retrofits gym equipment to capture human power.

Not only has this energy producing exercise been used to promote fitness but other government and privately owned establishments have implemented the technique. An Arizona women’s jail asks inmates to operate a stationary bike in order to power their television sets.

“The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona purchased a stationary bike that generates 12 volts of electricity to power a 19-inch television in the jail. Sheriff Joe Arpaio wanted the inmates to exercise. The bicycle will not save the county any money in terms of power bills, but it's making the inmates exercise every day.”

International hotels have adopted the idea as well, giving guests the opportunity to earn a free dinner after spending some time on the machines. While these tasks may look just like a means to an end other power pedalers have found a new found fitness purpose.

One machine, or even 100, don’t have the capacity to fuel an entire workout facility but the challenge created by the power producing machines give fitness fiends a new reason to hop on the cardio machines.

“The modified exercise equipments take kinetic energy from a person's workout and converts it into a form of electricity. This gives people more motivation to work harder” said Hudson Harr, president of RevRev.

Every turn of the pedals is an educational opportunity to realize the amount of energy that we waste everyday. The article featured on CNN highlights an organization in Detroit called Cass Community Social Services. Here, residents have found purpose through the machines as they work together to fuel the building in which they call home. The residents of Cass Community are homeless and enter the facility for transitional or temporary housing.

The bikes have brought awareness to the community and volunteers to the center. Cyclists, who may have otherwise avoided the residence now "[are] sitting shoulder-to-shoulder to someone who has been homeless for two to three years, they sit and talk, and they're both acting as problem solvers."

The idea has not caught on in many of the mainstream fitness markets but is slowly gaining momentum. The wheels are in motion for a change in the way we exercise, giving back to the Earth, one cardiovascular workout at a time.

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