Are 'People-Powered' Green Gyms the Future of Fitness?

In Club Industry's latest webinar, three industry experts outline strategies for implementing sustainable practices that can reduce your facility's energy bills, galvanize members and improve retention—all while aiding the environment. 

At Paul Crane’s EcoGym in the United Kingdom, club members can earn membership discounts based on the wattage they generate by using facility equipment.

This is not only an incentive program; it is how EcoGym’s building is powered.

Jose Avina implements a similar system at his Sacramento Eco Fitness club—the first of its kind in California. He simply calls it “people power.”

In Club Industry’s Feb. 2 webinar, "How to Grow and Differentiate Your Business Using Sustainable Business Practices,” Crane and Avina were joined by Adam Zellner, president of Greener By Design, to discuss how these green practices may offer a glimpse into the future of sustainable fitness.

The percentage of consumers who are willing to pay more for socially responsible goods and services rose from 35 percent in 2011 to 42 percent in 2014, Zellner said. This uptick has even influenced the business practices of global brands such as Google, Adidas, Apple, BMW and McDonald’s.

Not only do sustainable practices establish high standards and reduce energy bills, Crane said, but health club members are quick to see the advantages.

“It's a little bit of a different way of motivating members, but members feel great because not only are they contributing to their own health, but at the same time they're contributing to a greener environment,” he said.

At EcoGym, Crane utilizes rooftop solar panels, low-water showers, energy-efficient light bulbs and a specialized ventilation system that recovers, filters and stores escaping heat.

Avina has seen high member retention, which he credits in part to Eco Fitness’ sustainable efforts, plus he’s watched his club members rally around a common cause. Thanks to extra media buzz, word about the gym and its practices also spreads quickly, Avina said.

Do you feel like your business is a long way from being sustainable? Zellner offered the following six steps to "green up" your facility in a pinch:

1. Design or retrofit your space with Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified fixtures.

2. Consider "inside details" such as a recycling program.

3. Harness human power through your club members.

4. Carefully monitor all energy usage, especially building temperature.

5. Buy local.

6. Start small.

For more on how to "green up" and implement sustainable practices, view the free on-demand version of this webinar here. The webinar was sponsored by SportsArt. 

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