Human power is now just another way to go green as a local recreation club installs treadmills that run on runners’ energy in celebration of Earth Day.
Bellevue’s Samena Swim & Recreation Club is the first in the Seattle Metro area to install and utilize human-powered Verde treadmills. The machines, developed by Sports Art, allow runners to generate energy, spending about 24 percent to run the treadmill itself and sending the rest back into the power grid.
“Here at Samena, our commitment to the community is to give back,” fitness and marketing director Daniel Flahiff said. “One of our primary messages is that small steps make a big difference.”
Samena now maintains two Sports Art treadmills and, in recognition of Earth Day, have joined a global contest, allowing its 6,000 members (approximately) to compete in the “Treadmill Challenge.” The challenge, organized by Sports Art, asks anyone with access to the Verde treadmill to compete and see who can generate the most energy in a five-minute period.
Samena will have prizes for club members who compete and is asking the community to participate in a tree-planting party, park cleanup and used clothing drive. The Earth Day celebration is set for Monday, April 22, and Samena officials hope to bring communities together in an effort to improve Larsen Lake and Lake Hills GreenBelt Park, which are adjacent to the club.
“It’s important to be cognizant about how we can conserve,” executive director Tonya Swick said. “We’re excited to bring the community together as well as other entities that don’t often interact with each other.”
The human-powered treadmills are the latest push by Samena to decrease its carbon footprint. Swick said the club has been making changes over the past decade, installing LED lights throughout the building and a more efficient boiler.
Flahiff first discovered Sports Art and their treadmill about 2 years ago at a trade show. He was searching for a new investment for the club’s equipment.
“I was on a mission,” Flahiff said with a laugh. “I ran on about 40 treadmills that day.”
Flahiff added that management was instantly supportive of the technology and members were curious about the machine.
The treadmills were simple to install, only needing a wall outlet. Instead of drawing energy, the treadmill dumps energy back into the power grid, about 160 watts per hour for a nine-minute mile pace.
The treadmills also include a USB port that allows runners to charge their phones with the energy they create.
“Sometimes we operate on autopilot and this is an opportunity to stop and appreciate all that we have around us. Our hope is to really continue to drive that in the community and bring the community together,” Swick said. “We’re a medium-sized nonprofit and we’re always looking for ways to be good corporate citizens at the end of the day.”