Lean, Mean Electricity Machine

November 8, 2008

I was a human dynamo today. Literally. Working out on a specially outfitted exercise bike, I generated electricity while burning calories.

Sweat dripped from my nose at the Green Microgym whenever I glanced down at the flashing numbers showing how many watts I was producing. It’s too soon to call me Megawatt Man, but I helped power other cardio equipment, slightly reducing my carbon footprint.

A fitness trainer I work with moved to this gym, which has received a wave of national publicity since opening in late summer. So I’ll be visiting Thursdays and Saturdays while continuing to do the rest of my weekly regimen at the Lloyd Athletic Club.

The gym holds down its overall power usage through common-sense conservation, including keeping machines turned off when not in use, and solar panels. The goal is to eventually generate enough electricity via human-hamster exercise that the power bill is zero. That will require 240 hours of workouts daily on the cardio equipment.

While I panted on the bike and watched the numbers, I wondered whether I was peering into an end-of-oil, globally overheated future. One day will I have to pedal for an hour to get online for a few minutes?

After an hour of weight-lifting and other strength training, interspersed with saving-the-world cardio routines, I was feeling pretty smug. At least until I cranked up my car for the 1.4-mile trip home.

Should have walked or biked, rain be damned.