London’s first eco-friendly, human-powered gym is opening. This new gym really supports my values and what I believe in; throughout this post, I will explain why.
This gym is another innovative solution to the plastic pollution issues that we are still facing; this is a post-plastic gym. They are also transforming working out green and in turn helping to make small changes to aid the diminishing health of the planet and overall environment. In the space, the treadmills are people-powered and the kit is stylish and sustainable.
At Terra Hale’s new fitness studio in Shepherd’s Bush, spinning classes aren’t measured in calories. Nor does it matter how many miles you cover in an hour. For founder Michal Homola and his instructors, the only figure you’re told to focus on when you’re pushing the pedals is the number of watts. This, in my opinion, should help people to focus on their progression, in terms of strength, rather than focusing on counting calories burnt that often leads to a negative relationship with fitness and health. The ethical approach to fitness could also give consumers a cemented reason for going to the gym on a regular basis; they are not only improving their health, but also the environment.
The rider of the bike is that power for the lights, the scoreboard, and the music blaring from the speakers overhead. Harnessing the members’ energy to power its facilities is a great way of encouraging commitment and for people to work to their full potential during their time at the gym; generating optimal power. Also, if you sweat hard enough: any excess energy will go straight back into the Grid.
Many gyms, too, are making moves towards being more sustainable: lots have banished plastic and BioFit recently held a pop-up gym in Notting Hill made from natural materials.
Terra Hale takes a holistic approach; I love the fact that its contribution isn’t just material, it gives back. The gym attempts to combat the busy London lifestyle and adopts the concept of taking fitness to new Earth-friendly heights. They have essentially combined the ‘natural extension’ of his and his peers’ approach to life and wellbeing.
The ethos of protecting the planet feeds into every detail of the gym space: everything at the no-contract, pay-as-you-go studio is made from recycled materials, from the yoga mats to the door handles to the giant gymnastic monkey rig on the recycled rubber studio floor. Even the clocks are vintage, reclaimed from 1920s railway stations in Homola’s native Slovakia. The walls inside the repurposed railway arch are made from reclaimed wood and covered with plants chosen for their air-filtering qualities. Ivy is especially present as it is said to take away a large majority of the carbon dioxide inside, so it gives oxygen as consumers exercise.
The spinning classes at Terra Hale are naturally competitive, there is a prize each month for the biggest energy generator, but there’s an added group element, knowing you’re all working towards a collective goal. Each class generates between 1,500 and 3,300 watts which is enough to power a desktop computer for an entire working day. This is also equivalent to powering the electric fans in the gym for 22 hours, electric bulbs for 44 hours and cut 167g of CO2 emissions.
Crew Culture, an indoor rowing session with instructor also has an eco-friendly element: the class uses water rowing machines, which are made from sustainably sourced wood, powered by body weight, and using water as the resistance. They are said to feel much smoother and more natural than the metal Concept 2 machines found in regular gyms, and are quieter too.
Unlike most gym classes that squeeze in as many paying customers as possible, all classes are capped to a maximum of six. This would make the sessions feel much more intimate and generate a closer team feel. Similarly, there are boxing, free weights, functional training and PT sessions on the gym floor.
What I was most excited about was the prospect of the development of an outdoor area for yoga classes, meditation and gong baths in the summer. Yoga outside on a sunny day, I imagine would be even more relaxing and you would probably leave with an extra fresh, uplifting feeling as a result of the summer air and sunlight. They also hope to get human-powered treadmills in the future, which would generate additional energy.
I didn’t realise that Terra Hale’s flagship studio is in Shepherd’s Bush Market, but there’s a smaller sister gym in Fulham and a third, in Notting Hill, opens later this Spring. I hope that other gyms follow Terra Hale’s lead. I like the idea of a large number of gyms and fitness studios staying strong together, one human at a time saving the planet. Maybe one day all fitness will be measured in watts, rather than other more self-controlling numbers.