The Green Microgym

“A workout is a terrible thing to waste”

Sunday 2 June 2013, by Anna Acuña, Clara Albertí, Hugor Rossine, MarinaHurtado

4 inspired

Why this company?

The idea of studying this company came with the class lecture 6 about Business and Global Environmental issues, which was about the oil industry and the climate change. We wondered if inside renewable energies, there existed any way of capturing human effort and consequently we thought about the quantity of energy created by people who go to gyms, danced, etc. The idea seemed wonderful, and so we started to look if it had ever been brought to reality. That is when we found The Green Microgym.

With the slogan “A workout is a terrible thing to waste”, the company informs to the public what their main activity or business objective is to acquire all the possible energy that comes from human exercise, especially the one which comes from every gym.

This small enterprise clearly fitted what we were looking for and so we decided to make its analysis, especially to find out how it works and how a simple idea, which is clearly easy to apply, has become a successful business.

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

The Green Microgym is the first renewable energy generating gym in the United States. It was invented by Adam Boesel, a school teacher who turned into a personal trainer and started up his first gym in Portland, Oregon in 2008.

His first idea was to design a traditional gym. However, he thought about using the energy produced by people while exercising. The project started with the creation of a design which allowed to convert exercise machines into electric power. It allowed the auto-provision of energy to a building, which was a very successful idea as it caught people’s attention all around the world, and demand for this product began to increase. People wanted these machines for their own use at home.

Not only machines were eco-friendly but Adam also developed an energy saving culture in his gym, trying to find simpler and better ways to go green, such as the use of solar panels and member-controlled lights, among others.

The results of this plan are that The Green Microgym is able to generate up to 40% of its own electricity from solar panels and the already mentioned exercise machines. In addition, the usage of electricity is reduced as much as 85% and the use of carbon is a tenth less of a conventional gym. For instance, a member of The Green Microgym saves around 1⁄4 of carbon compared to other regular gyms.

Therefore, there are three main reasons why people would join The Green Microgym: convenience, familiarity and eco-friendliness.

We could define it as “a leader in sustainable fitness”.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The main goal of The Green Microgym is to take advantage of the already existent and wasted power in a normal gym into useful energy.

Energy-producing equipment is the thing that we would highlight as the most remarkable eco-friendly aspect of the business. Some of the machines that form these equipment are Plugout Fitness Ellipticals and Spin Bikes that, as a curiosity, allow to create energy for about five cell phone charges with only 30 minutes of continuous exercise. Moreover, the gym will save energy as most machines are switched off when not in use.

Nevertheless, equipment is not the only tool used for sustainable objectives. The whole Green Microgym is oriented towards an eco-friendly environment and makes use of different strategies, alternatives and materials in order to satisfy their green values, such as:

- The gym utilizes eco-friendly building construction materials, including recycled rubber, marmoleum and cork floor which are one of the most environmentally friendly flooring materials.
- The paper is made of recycled materials.
- The toilets are low-flow and dual-flush.
- Accumulated watts produced can be exchanged for local business gift cards thanks to the Members Reward Program.
- The gym has an EcoFicient Fitness Training philosophy that considers time as a non-renewable resource, so they use it effectively and efficiently.
- The member-controlled lights, televisions, and fans are turned on only when needed.
- They post Educational information so as to familiarize their members on the electrical consumption of certain appliances.
- The gym uses natural cleaning suplies
- There are solar panels installed on the building exterior.
- There are no sales of plastic water bottles

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Today, our society needs electricity to keep moving. Most of the sources of electricity have, as we all know, irreversible effects. For instance, the carbon emissions alter the quality of our air and increase the greenhouse effect, so they directly influence our environment. The Peak Oil issue is added to the problem.
Therefore, we believe the pursuit of alternative sources of energy that are respectful towards the natural environment are really ethical.

The Green Microgym can be an inspiration to many other gyms or it can even be a motivation for the research of other potential ways for taking advantage of already existing energy that could be used for our daily consumption.
We trust this company because instead of working like any other conventional gym, they decided to reduce the negative consequences the consumption of electricity of the equipment in the mentioned conventional gyms have on the society and the environment.
Moreover, apart from trying to innovate by using a system that gets all the possible energy, they also follow a saving policy and take their green philosophy to all levels of the business.
These eco-friendly principles are also transmitted to their clients, who do not only take care of their own wellness by exercising, but take care of the whole society by trying to contribute with a reduction of the impact they have on it.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The Green Microgym is facing the same problem gyms and businesses everywhere are facing in today’s economic climate, a pricing challenge. It is not cheap to provide eco-friendly only equipment and infrastructures (at least in the short run) and today’s consumers are very price sensitive.

Many questions may arise from those more skeptical, such as: How much energy do you really save? and is the price of the service efficient ? (do you create more energy than you pay extra for being in the gym)? Can this money be better spent towards causes that make better use of it? These are questions that will always appear, and the gym needs to keep reminding its customers that it is one of the only gyms in the world which is taking an innovative path, building value in their own culture. In order for this to work, the gym must be constantly innovating its commercial strategy and infrastructure. Once its technology becomes obsolete, it will be difficult to maintain clients. The strategy and marketing plan must also be constantly attracting new customers because after all, it is still a gym. Gyms have a very unstable clientele, with 80% dropping out during the first 3 months (Microgym website, 2013).

We can already see this constant innovation in both infrastructure and strategies. Regarding its strategy, the Green Microgym offers many discounts and promotions to gain new customers such as: “use your membership fee to gain free sessions with a personal trainer” and similar offers. We would suggest the Green Microgym to add on its existing point system by opening up the option of using the watts generated by exercise to pay less on your monthly bill. This would not only attract the attention of existing customers, but also of the potential customers still in doubt as to whether it is financially worth the effort.

Bibliography

www.thegreenmicrogym.com
www.sustainablebusinessoregon.com
www.clubsolutionsmagazine.com

Location: Portland, Oregon (USA)

Sector: Human health and social work activities

Official website: http://www.thegreenmicrogym.com

Key figures:

It is a new, small, private company

Nbr. visits: 335

Nbr. inspires: 4