SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As a personal trainer with years of experience, Max Sullivan says he loves helping others get the best out of themselves by pushing himself, and others, to go that extra mile.
At Sacramento’s Eco Fitness gym, that extra mile means more than just fitness thanks to their eco-bikes that harness human energy.
“I like to keep my watts up to a certain wattage,” Sullivan said.
By keeping his watts up, he’s helping power the gym.
“Built in here at the bottom (of the bike) there’s a converter that, as Max is pedaling, it is converting that power and pushing it back into our breaker box,” said gym co-owner Kennedy Smith, who’s run the facility since it opened in 2016.
Before COVID, when all eco-bikes at the gym were running five days a week, Smith said they could produce 288,000 kilowatts per year.
Sullivan said the bikes also help motivate clients during class.
“We would do little races to see who could generate the most power. For Earth Day, I believe in 2016, I did 12 hours of classes — 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off — and we just saw how much power we could raise.”
As power grids are being pushed to their limits by souring temperatures, state officials are encouraging energy innovations like this.
Operators around the state have also been asking homeowners to sign-up for power cycling programs that allow operators to remotely power off AC units when the grid is strained.
Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $1.3 billion forgivable loan to PG&E to keep the state’s last remaining nuclear plant running past its intended shutdown date of 2025.
Executive director at the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, V. John White, said Newsom’s proposal is very worrisome.
“There are significant questions to ask about the safety of that plant on an ongoing basis. One of the units is embrittled. The PG&E has not been spending operation and maintenance funds because they were getting ready to close the plant,” White said.
Some of the other ways the gym is being energy efficient are solar panels on the roof and large open roller doors that ensure good airflow and keep power use from the grid low.
Being energy efficient while getting fit, Sullivan said, is the best of both worlds.
“Anytime we can help others, help our community, while we help ourselves, it’s no question for me,” he said.
Sullivan and Smith will continue to use pedal power, and any other sustainable way, to go that extra mile to be power conscious.