Environmental awareness and ecological
responsibility are at the forefront of today’s
news. Fitness industry professionals
can follow the examples of the rapidly
growing number of green spas, green
buildings and companies practicing sustainable business programs. You may
be surprised to learn that it does not necessarily
cost more to"keep it green!"
Discover how you can make a difference
by implementing ideas ranging from
simple recycling programs to higher-impact
strategies for energy efficiency.
Understanding the Four Principles
The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) promotes 4 principles:
Principle #1: Reduce
Despite making progress in recycling, the
United States is still generating too much
waste. According to the EPA, each individual
discards about 4 pounds of material
daily. This waste burdens both the
environment and our economy. Waste
prevention (reducing and reusing) is the
ideal solution. What can you do?
Fitness Facilities. Provide rechargeable
batteries to group fitness instructors so
that fewer batteries are purchased and disposed
of. Visit www.rbrc.org to find out
where to recycle rechargeable batteries.
Personal Trainers. Give a refillable water
bottle to each new client to reduce the
prevalence of single-use water bottles.
Adding your logo will provide additional
marketing for your business. By factoring
an extra $3-$5 into your personal training
packages for this service, you’ll generate
a new revenue stream to boost your
bottom line. Also offer your branded
water bottles for sale at special events.
Purchase low-cost water bottles from a
number of branding companies, such as
Principle #2: Reuse
The EPA reports that 40% of waste is produced
by businesses. Consider reusing before
recycling. Reusing lowers the cost of
recycling by delaying or avoiding the disposal
of an item, thereby helping to reduce
the volume of waste produced.
Reusing, also known as source reduction,
conserves resources and decreases pollution—which includes reducing the greenhouse
gases that contribute to global
warming. What can you do?
Fitness Facilities. Conduct a waste audit
to determine what and how much
waste your business generates. Since a coffee
shop will generate different waste than
a health club, it is important to know
which materials make up your waste
before you develop a plan to reduce it.
Visit www.earth911.org for information
on how to start your audit.
Personal Trainers. Instead of packing
your lunch in a single-use sandwich bag
(which can last up to 1,000 years in a landfill!),
purchase reusable sandwich containers.
The greenest choices, ranked in order
of most (to least) eco-friendly are ceramic,
glass, stainless steel, and plastic containers
labeled #1, #2, #4 or #5. For additional information,
including where to purchase
containers, see www.idealbite.com.
Principle #3: Recycle
There is still much more that can be done
on the recycling front. Commit to recycling
as much as possible and purchasing
products that contain recycled content. What can you do?
Fitness Facilities. Implement a battery-recycling program, a plastic- and
glass-recycling program and a newspaper/
magazine-recycling program, making
them all easily accessible to both
members and staff. Provide bins for plastic
and paper recycling throughout the
club, and organize battery and cell phone
recycling at the front desk.Visit www.earth
911.org to find out how to dispose of
these items properly.
Principle #4: Respond
You can help by educating yourself as
well as your staff, members, clients and
friends about ways to"keep it green. What can you do?
Fitness Facilities. Include an environmental
tip in your newsletters to members.
Promote monthly eco-friendly events,
such as used-battery collections. Organize
a regional contest to see which club can recycle
the most weight in batteries.
Personal Trainers. Select environmentally
friendly birthday or holiday gifts for
clients to show them you care about their
physical health and the health of our
planet. Find gifts made of recycled materials
at www.eco-artware.com. Magazine
subscriptions also make thoughtful client
gifts. Environmentally conscious magazines
include The Green Guide (www.the
greenguide.com) and Plenty (www.plenty
Positive Changes in Materials
On a larger scale, what can you do if you are
building a new health club or renovating a
fitness studio? You can work with an environmentally
friendly construction company and start from the ground up, or make
small changes to your current space. Visit
www.bdcnetwork.com to find a professional
accredited by Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED).
For example, installing a programmable
thermostat is inexpensive and simple.
It allows you to adjust the air temperature
during business hours and to save energy
and money by automatically scheduling
a higher or lower temperature after hours.
Install one in your home, as well, to save
energy when you are at work.
As for paint or flooring, here is what
Steve Ellis, co-owner of MyGreen
Buildings LLC in Sarasota, Florida, recommends:
"Use paint that is zero VOC
[has no volatile organic compounds], such
as Sherwin-Williams¨, to prevent any off-
gassing." (Offgassing, or outgassing, refers
to the release of gases during the life of a
material. A lot of the gases released are
toxic to many people as well as the environment.
Heat and sunlight can increase
the offgassing rate.) Ellis also suggests installing
"flooring materials that are manufactured
from a sustainable product (such
as cork) or a fast-growing product (such as
bamboo)." He adds that weather stripping,
window film and compact fluorescent
lighting are among the ways to improve air
quality and energy efficiency indoors.
You can also ask equipment manufacturers
if they use recycled or environmentally
friendly manufacturing procedures.
For example, Balanced Body uses sustainable,
harvested lumber (with no tropical deforestation)
for its reformers, and GAIAM
offers yoga mats made of nontoxic, natural
materials like jute and natural rubber.
Environmentally Friendly Health Clubs
With all these ideas on how to make a difference,
what are some actual fitness centers
already doing? Take a look at how a
variety of facilities have taken measures to
positively impact our planet.
24 Hour Fitness. California Fitness, a
division of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide,
has opened a state-of-the-art facility in
Beijing that has environmentally friendly
features—including an air purification system—
to provide optimum conditions for
its members. Additionally, through a partnership
with a company called Motorwave, the club has been outfitted with a
"Powered by You" section that uses human
energy to create electricity. All cardio machines,
excluding treadmills, have technology
that repurposes excess electricity from
the machines to run fluorescent lighting in
the club. Currently, most cardio machines
use only 10% of the electricity created by
machines in use, while 90% is dissipated in
the form of heat. California Fitness says
that one of its Hong Kong locations was
the first health club in the world to use this
type of technology.
California Family Fitness Centers.
How would you like to trim more than
$10,000 per year off your energy bill?
When California Family Fitness Centers,
a rapidly growing company based in
Carmichael, California, decided to
strengthen the energy efficiency of two of
its facilities, it quickly learned that exercising
sound energy conservation measures
helped the company’s financial
health. In both facilities, existing lights
were replaced with high-efficiency fluorescent
lighting, and the heating, ventilation
and air-conditioning (HVAC)
systems were retired in favor of energy-
efficient HVAC packages.
University of Maine. The University of
Maine’s new Recreation and Fitness
Center has been designed as an energy-efficient,
environmentally friendly fitness
facility. The $25 million center is being
constructed by Pizzagalli Corp. of Belfast,
Maine, and is expected to receive LEED’s
silver certification for energy efficiency.
To become LEED-certified, a building
must meet a certain number of requirements
regarding sustainability; water and
energy efficiency; indoor environmental
quality, innovation and design; and use of
local and renewable resources.
Washtenaw Community College. This
year, Michigan residents will enjoy a new
health and fitness facility at this Ann
Arbor community college. The building
is designed to be highly energy efficient,
with features such as a reflective white
roof to reduce heating and cooling costs;
special water recycling and drainage systems;
and lights that come on only when
there’s not enough daylight. The center is
intended to be self-supporting, using no
YWCA of White Plains and Central
Westchester, New York. Slashing energy
costs has allowed this organization to
devote more funds to its mission of
service. The YWCA’s comprehensive
energy efficiency plan involved installing
a new 25-ton water-cooled,
dual compressor screw chiller; putting
variable air volume controls on the facility’s
nine major air-handling systems;
adding two oil-fired pool heaters
that run independently of the facility’s
main boilers; and making a host of
other energy-efficient retrofits. These
changes promised the YWCA an annual
cash savings of $66,799, guaranteed
for the next 10 years by Johnson
Controls Inc., manufacturer of the energy-saving devices.
Using the examples of these facilities as
motivators, think about what you can do—
whether you’re a solo training business or a
large, multiclub chain—to put environmentally
friendly concepts into action.
2. PET plastic bottles
4. corrugated cardboard
5. steel cans
6. HDPE plastic bottles
7. glass containers
9. mixed paper
Source: National Recycling Coalition.
Kristen Horler is founder and chief executive
officer of Baby Boot Camp. In 2006, she opened
KŠrna Fitness, a core training studio that focuses
on low-energy, low-impact, eco-friendly
practices through a recycling program and the
use of sustainable flooring, zero-VOC paints,
natural light and nontoxic cleaning products.
Contact Horler at www.babybootcamp.com.
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