How to Make Your Workouts Eco-Friendly
As a personal trainer working in Hollywood, I see my share of fads and trends. Southern California saw the beginnings of such fitness mainstays as Jack Lalanne, Richard Simmons, and Jane Fonda. Then came Soloflex, Tae Bo, and “striptease” cardio. The green movement also began here, birthing people and causes such as Healthy Child, Ralph Nader, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose legacy may in large part have to do with his stand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s sixth largest economy.
The Governator is one combination of fitness and sustainability. If you’re a gym-goer, it’s an intriguing idea. Consider that besides your home, car, and office, your time in the gym (and the related travel time to get there) probably accounts for one or two hours each day. So here are some thoughts on how you can make your exercise regimen less impactful on the environment.
Upgrade your water bottle
Buy a Nalgene water bottle. There have been scary stories about a chemical called BTA that “regular” water bottles release if you’ve inadvertently left them in a hot car. While the jury’s still out on whether BPA causes cancer, laboratory studies on rats have shown that “it affects estrogen, decreases sperm production, has been associated to prostate and breast cancer, and it is especially hard on developing bodies.” By using a Nalgene water bottle, you save the production of plastic which (even when recycled) still leaves a footprint. If that’s not reason enough, then look at what a good corporate citizen Nalgene is. More ideas…
Use self powered gym equipment.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how crowded the gym, there’s always a stationary bike available? Here’s why: first, of all the cardio equipment out there, stationary bikes are by far the cheapest. And many stationary bikes are powered by the user and require zero electrical power. Fewer machines to fuel means lower electricity costs for the facility. Actor/environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. goes one step further and uses his exercise bike to power other stuff.
When shopping for sports supplements, think green.
I got this idea from Begley, who (no big shocker) has already been doing a lot of thinking about fitness and sustainability. “Fitness enthusiasts often take supplements, powders and the like,” he says. “When making purchases of this sort, think ‘green.'” Ed offers a practical way to determine whether a container for your favorite protein powder is harmful to the environment. “The easiest plastic containers to recycle are the ones that have a 1 or a 2 in the center of the recycling triangle logo (usually on the bottom of the container),” he explains. “The 3,4,5 and 6 containers are the more problematic.”
Use biofriendly disinfectants and cleaners.
Rebecca Foster, an green educational consultant in Los Angeles, tells me that a natural substance such as tea tree oil is as effective as many commercial disinfectants—plus they smell way better. Think about the air in the room around you and your own respiratory system. Do you really want to breathe bleach, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals? Blech. There are dozens of non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products on the market: Simple Green, Seventh Generation, and Method Home are three leaders.
Join a gym in your hood.
Last, but what should probably be first: choose your gym wisely. Recently I joined a neighborhood gym which I selected for one criterion alone: where was the gym in relation to my work and home? Since I drive between my three business locations on a daily basis, I wanted the gym where I take up residence to cross my traffic patterns, that way I can’t ever make an excuse NOT to work out. The same rule also helps the environment. By giving my membership to a gym that’s “on the way,” not “out of the way” of my daily traffic patterns, I reduce my consumption of gasoline and energy: every time I work out.