Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Self-Powered Health Clubs

All that work is going on—and they're not USING it?
  (+41, -6)(+41, -6)(+41, -6)
(+41, -6)
  [vote for,

Imagine all those health clubs—dozens of people pedaling Exercycles, stomping StairMasters, lifting weight machines... That's an awful lot of motion going to waste. Meanwhile, they're BUYING electricity to light and heat the place? What's wrong with this picture?

Hook all those machines up to generators, I say. Plus, it'll give all those yuppie exercisers the feeling they're really DOING something, not just vainly staving off the inevitable decay of age, etc. Everyone needs a purpose.

Ander, Nov 14 2000

Pedal Generator http://www.los-gato...davidbu/pedgen.html
Someone baking idea for real [alien_val, Dec 21 2005]

Blog: Energy supply from gym workout http://www.we-make-...archives/008495.php
"Is it possible that no one had thought about it before?" In a word, no. Some good links to other gym/energy related projects. [jutta, May 16 2006]

article from Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.c...8a_ak_20070308.html
Harvesting the Energy Of Hong Kong Gym Rats [xaviergisz, Mar 02 2007]

the 'power by you' in several places http://www.springwi.../2007-03-15.htm#gym
"concept was developed by French inventor Lucien Gambarota and Californian entrepreneur Doug Woodring" [rrr, Mar 16 2007]

BBC News Story http://news.bbc.co....ucation/7301354.stm
"See-saw to power African schools" [hippo, Mar 18 2008]

Concept: Human-Powered River Gym http://www.archinode.com/gym.html
Using human-generated energy to travel in bubbles along the waterways of New York. [jutta, Aug 12 2008]

The Pedal-A-Watt Stationary Bike Power Generator http://www.econvergence.net/electro.htm
Only $379, plus shipping [hippo, Sep 25 2008]

BoingBoing's profile of David Butcher (guy from [alien_val]'s link http://www.boingboi...powered-electr.html
Complete with video of him pedalling himself a smoothie. [hidden truths, Apr 21 2009]

Bang Goes the Theory http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p8469
[hippo, Dec 03 2009]


       I once watched a moving company lift a gym worth of weights up a flight of stairs. It seemed very strange that the people going there for exercize weren't willing to do the lifting.
tenhand, Nov 14 2000, last modified Nov 17 2000

       From sorry experience, I know that I'm more likely to hurt myself trying to get something up the stairs than exerting the same amount of effort inside a carefully designed machine.   

       But I agree that the effort inside the machines should be captured. It could power lights, the TVs, duelling jukeboxes...
hello_c, Nov 16 2000

       Don't tell the clients that they are generating usable electricity. Most people would expect a discounted membership rate.
xrayTed, Dec 03 2000

       Damn! This is what I get for not reading EVERYTHING first. This is the same as my idea, sorry. Also xrayTed's wrinkle that users could have the amount of energy they generate DEDUCTED from their monthly fees. . . .
deacon, May 29 2001

       Make sure you consult with Sherwood Schwartz before you patent this idea. The thought of "Gilligan's Island" having grounds for an Intellectual Property lawsuit disturbs me on so many levels...
MrWrong, May 29 2001

       This idea is already about 1/8 baked. A lot of the cardio equipment I use at my gym has a small, built in generator, which powers the machine's computer.   

       I like the idea though. No reason we can't step up the gain and put those burned calories to use:)
MrSheep, Nov 24 2002

       Don't forget to plug some generators to the play ground installations at your local park or school and something about children explotation...
vari-kvi, Jul 10 2003

       Nice idea, at least for charging big batteries, which could then supply fairly regulated current...might reduce fossil fuel emissions too. 10hand's anecdote reminds me of seeing folks use elevators to get to that stairmaster in an upper floor healthclub.
n-pearson, Jul 10 2003

       I had the exact same idea. I searched for it, just to see if some other clever person posted it yet, and sure enough, you did.
chrispy, Nov 12 2003

       This reminds me of how my wife, a marathon runner, complains when she has to park 30 feet away from where she's going.
Ander, Jul 31 2004

       I was going to write this as a totally new idea but its too similar. Basically you set up lots of gyms across the country and require people to spend a certain amount of time at the gym. They can get an electrical bill reimbursement(or more) for the power they produce. Everyone is healthier too. Ta da. This gives me a totally new idea...
SpocksEyebrow, May 06 2005

       Reminds me of the irony of the treadmills. Why would someone need to use energy in order to expend energy?   

       The generator itself could be used to control resistance. Feeling energetic? Power the 100 watt overhead lights.
Aq_Bi, May 11 2005

       Added link for a pedal machine someone is creating a kit for. Need to think how you would do it for weights. Would need to keep a steady rythmn of lifting to power a generator. If there was resistance both ways might disrupt usual weightlifing technique though. Not a lifter so not clear on this.
alien_val, Dec 21 2005

       Make sure the snack dispenser by the door is powered by a treadmill - you can only access it after 20 mins burning off the cals in a snack bar.
rubyminky, Dec 23 2005

       A human can't generate enough electricity to make any difference. But don't tell the users that. Instead, charge them EXTRA to work out at a gym that is environmentally friendly, and emphasize how their labor helps to defray the gym's elect. costs and reduce dependence on the grid. Just as environmentally conscientious folks will pay extra money for less car (see hybrids), they'll pay extra to work out at a green gym. Note that the Pedal Generator link above says that he averaged 150 watts during a half-hour workout. Not much!
luxlucet, Dec 23 2005

       While we're at it you could have the at home treadmill set up to charge the electric car... and if you were too lazy, buy the kids a whole mess of hamsters and rats :)
Juggalo4Eternity, Dec 24 2005

       ok, what's going on with the first anno on this idea? it says when it was created, and modified.. was this feature just around for a couple of days ?
neilp, May 16 2006

       Great ideas (both of them) [+]
kuupuuluu, May 16 2006

       Isn't this idea 'banned' from the Halfbakery?
Germanicus, May 16 2006

       I've seen it on a few early ideas [neilp]. It seems to be an early way of showing when an annotation has been edited, which makes a bit of sense, even if it is largely pointless.   

       The idea is a big no-no [Germanicus], because it has been done to death. Just look through the annotations at how many people have had the same idea and wanted to post it. And that doesn't even count all those that just posted without checking and got MFD'd as redundant for it.
hidden truths, May 16 2006

       Sooo... This is the original idea, and so remains? If not why not [m-f-d]: Redundant?
Germanicus, May 16 2006

       You can mark it as redundant if you find an earlier idea that describes the same thing. Link to the earlier idea when you mark a later one. The intention is to not create the same idea over and over again.
jutta, May 16 2006

       Darn. I was going to write this, but someone beat me to it. Good idea.
craziness, May 16 2006

       luxlucet, 150 watts may not be alot, but do you know how many people go to gyms every day? Millions!!! What's 150 times 10 million (and that's a conservative estimate, considering there are 150 mil. people in the U.S. alone)
craziness, May 16 2006

       one more thing: you would definitely have to make the generators charge batteries before releasing current into the power grid in order to keep a steady flow, otherwise you would get surges and dips as people went faster or slower or as new people started workin out.
craziness, May 16 2006

       I'd like to have great big loud sparks generated or, borrowing from [pureliquidhw]'s idea, Hydrogen fueled homes, generate hydrogen & oxygen in bubbles then explode it loudly.
caspian, May 19 2006

       it's a great idea, basically. BUT you are not really as powerful as you think. During my last visit to the Munich technical museum, i happened to test a device that turned muscle power into energy, and lighted up some bulbs, depending on how fast i was able to spin a wheel using my hand. My personal power output peak was 100W (i have to mention my 12 year professional water-polo background) which output, i wasn't able to mantain more than 10 seconds. So it's quite obvious that the whole fitness club would lie in darkness most of the time if it relied on human power.   

       on the other hand, you could just wear rechargable batteries around with you, and charge those batteries as you exercise.
sweet, May 21 2006

       //what's wrong with this picture?// elevators use electrical power when descending instead of generating electrical power; very few cars have energy generating brake systems, and even those have a low efficiency.. air-conditioning is a factor in global warming. "The world is surely screwed up when we export citrus to each other, isn't it?" (UnaBubba said it better) - i couldn't help remembering that.
sweet, May 21 2006

       "yuppie exercisers?" Err...   

       Umm, maybe if you visit the gym you'd see that most of the cardio machines do use that energy to power their electronics. The more fancy machines use AC power to provide resistance, so you're putting lots more power in than you could ever get out. The resistance has to come from somewhere. Go to a "yuppie gym" and fire up a machine, it does alot more than just spin without resistance.   

       As far as other devices, oh lets say revolving doors or just weight training machines you have to consider the cost of design, implementation, and maintence on top of the cost of the generator and battery in terms of money and construction. The battery, circuit, and generator cost in terms of energy is probably more than you would get out of it in its lifetime of use! So its environmentally silly to even try this.   

       As far as using the generator as resistance, well you're not getting variable resistance this way unless you add a transmission. Thus more ridiculous costs.
lowbot, May 22 2006

       This could work. You could also reduce members fees if they generate extra - the more you use the gym, the less you pay.
energy guy, May 22 2006

       Using a generator for variable resistance is easy, does not require an external source of power, and does not require any sort of variable transmission.   

       Efficiently harnessing a variable amount of power from a generator (e.g. if you wanted to have the exercise equipment feed into the mains as much power as the person was producing) would be tricky. Harnessing a small fixed amount of power to run a display and burning off the rest as heat, however, would be fairly simple.
supercat, May 22 2006

       I think this idea is great, but I'd give people food credits for the energy they produced to use at the gym cafeteria (which would sell sustainably grown food) not much point if your just powering the world on Maccas or KFC.
greyfiend, Jun 25 2006

       I think you could do this at least for the treadmills, bikes, etc. by using a giant flywheel in the basement to store the power.   

       (As far as I understand, flywheel storage is not uncommon for buildings, subway systems, etc.)
cowtamer, Mar 16 2007

       You'll notice that the links to real-life examples were added considerably later... Makes you wonder how many HB ideas the world picks up on, doesn't it? ;?)
Ander, Aug 04 2007

       Not really. Given how often people independently come up with this specific idea, you'd have to have a pretty big head to think that we had anything to do with it. If you were to show me a bee-releasing jam-filled banjo leg, that would be another thing entirely.
jutta, Feb 03 2008

       It's only a matter of time.
theleopard, Feb 04 2008

       I wonder which will come first...
theleopard, Feb 04 2008

       you could have a competition every month: the member who produces the most energy, gets a month free membership. all the extra energy could be sold back to the grid.
copycat042, Mar 21 2008

       Watch "Bang goes the theory" (see link) tonight on BBC1 at 8:00pm:

"A Bang Goes the Theory special event showing how much electricity we use and abuse without even thinking about it.

This massive experiment attempts to power a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power - while the unsuspecting family inside go about their normal Sunday routine. Will they drive the Human Power Station to meltdown?

For more ways to put science to the test, go to the Hands-on Science area at www.bbc.co.uk/bang for details of activities that you can try at home, including energy saving tips and activity."

Those of you outside the UK might be able to see it online on the BBC's iPlayer ( - or this might be restricted to UK IP addresses...).
hippo, Dec 03 2009

       I was just about to link to Charlie Brooker's review of that, [Hippo].
theleopard, Dec 03 2009

       You should link to it. It was a good review.
hippo, Dec 03 2009

       Funnily enough, I'm not allowed to use iPlayer as I now live outside the UK and don't pay a license fee. Yet I can watch every BBC channel including BBC HD as they are all broadcast throughout Europe on Freesat. Go figure.
wagster, Dec 03 2009


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