Energy-efficient equipment is just one option for gyms looking to go a little greener. Now, more fitness centers are also striving to help users feel like they're working out in the great outdoors, not a sweaty fluorescent room, using touches like plants, natural woods, and plenty of light. One company leading the charge is Biofit, a United Kingdom–based interior design startup that uses biophilic design principles to make gyms around Europe look more like jungles—complete with floor-to-ceiling photos of forests and faux moss draped over floors and walls.
And as sustainability continues to become more important to the everyday consumer (85 percent of mbg readers are worried about the future of the planet, according to a poll conducted earlier this year), larger fitness chains are also beginning to dip their toes in greener waters. Both Planet Fitness, with 1,400 locations in the United States, and 24 Hour Fitness, a health club serving nearly 4 million members, have recently teamed up with ENGIE Insight to cut down on their footprints.
"If a recycling bin or Dumpster is overflowing—or alternately, if haulers are picking up half-empty containers—the site manager calls our team to take action. The data we gather on-site about trash and recycling needs and container sizes allows us to establish the right sizing of pickup schedules, driving increased diversion from the landfill and ultimately more savings for the company," Cagle explains of their program at 24 Hour Fitness. ENGIE also collects data to help gyms lower their electric burden by adjusting for cooler temps during peak hours and warmer ones during off times.
"Gyms are more interested in sustainability today, both from a cost standpoint and from an emerging consumer demand," Cagle says. "Millennial customers are even willing to pay a little more to join a gym that limits its carbon footprint. Gyms now have an opportunity to meet this demand, attract more consumers, and effectively manage energy usage."
Here's hoping small boutique gyms, name-brand chains, and everyone in between continues to experiment with such eco-offerings, and a new, more mindful era of fitness is on the horizon.
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