Monday, November 3, 2008

How Green is Your Workout?

“From its eco-friendly building materials to its outdoorsy color scheme, every aspect of Inhale Yoga Studio is designed to make patrons mindful of planet earth. ‘There's a sense that you're coming into a space that is sacred,’ says yoga instructor Michelle Stobart, who opened his studio in March. Accordingly, there's a tacit expectation among students that nothing potentially harmful be brought into the space, and that includes widely sold non-skid yoga mats containing polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a chemical emitting plastic. ‘I think maybe for the whole of yoga across the United States, there's possibly that kind of vibration or expectation about choosing eco-friendly equipment,’ Stobart says. ‘It fits in with the yogic principle of Ahimsa nonviolence or non-harming to yourself, to others and to the world in general.’ Ohm-chanting yogis aren't the only ones who are ‘greening’ their workouts. From health club designers and equipment engineers on down to individual exercisers, fitness enthusiasts are devising ways to bum calories without burning excessive amounts of resources or otherwise harming the environment. Thanks to the greening of the fitness industry, folks who aren't quite ready to give up their gym memberships can feel better about the hours they spent on the elliptical machine while watching overhead televisions or listening to their iPods. Keeping pace with society's environmental concerns, health clubs are going the extra mile to clean up their image as gluttonous energy consumers. For several years, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association has offered sessions at its annual trade show on how to operate an environmentally friendly facility. Participation has been so high that the March 2009 trade show will feature an entire educational track on ‘going green,’ which includes measures such as installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets to achieve water savings of 25 percent to 60 percent and buying cardiovascular equipment and appliances that bear the federal ENERGY STAR label for energy efficiency. ‘Going green is an advantage as far as cost but clubs are also seeing it as a competitive advantage because more consumers are insisting on eco-friendly facilities,’ says IHRSA president Joe Moore. Patrons can breathe a bit easier knowing that fitness clubs are moving away from the use of carpeting and other materials, such as paints, vinyl and adhesives that are known to emit volatile organic compounds - chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature and affect indoor air quality, Moore adds. Consumer demand is also driving the development of the aforementioned eco-friendly exercise gear, including PVC-free yoga mats and clothing made from organic and bamboo fibers.”

The Rye Sound Shore Review

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