North of England gym becomes first to turn exercise into energy

A leisure centre in County Durham is keeping the environment – and its budget – in shape with a range of new energy-generating machines

A gymnasium in northern England has become the first indoor gym in the country to generate its own power supply from energy produced by members during exercise sessions.

The Spectrum Leisure Centre based in Willington, County Durham, has purchased a range of machines called The Green System, which turn exercise into electricity and cost the same as regular gym machines.

The new pieces of equipment include exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and upright bikes capable of producing up to 2,000 watts per hour.

Mark Turner, managing director of Sports Art Fitness, the company that designed and built the machines, said: “We have spent ten years developing this technology and have already seen it installed in the United States, Canada and Holland. Now The Spectrum has become the first leisure venue in the UK to recognise the environmental benefits of the machines.”

Mr Turner estimates that if the machines are used for 60% of the time the gym is open, the centre could save up to £10,000 on its energy bills over the next five years.

Ian Hirst, chairman of Slam Community Development Trust, the charity that runs the centre, said: “This is a very exciting development for us. Currently our monthly energy charges amount to the same as 50 members’ fees. The savings provided by these machines means we can potentially use 30 of those fees to fund other environmental initiatives. It’s a big boost to what the centre can offer.

“The biggest cost to any leisure-related venue is electricity: these new machines are the perfect way of tackling our energy costs.”

The centre also has energy efficient LED lights throughout the building and plans to install 400 solar panels, which will slash its electricity bills by a further 65% and make a major reduction in its carbon footprint.