Green gyms: healthier grist for recycled treadmills

Mon May 3, 2010 10:53am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's not easy being green, but health clubs are finding that being good to the planet may also reward their bottom line.

National fitness chains and boutique clubs alike are retro-fitting old centers and building greener new ones.

"Health clubs worldwide are continuing to adopt greener practices," said Kara Shemin, of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the industry's not-for-profit trade association.

Despite the weak economy and rising unemployment, the health club industry is in good shape. An IHRSA survey found that total industry revenues rose two percent in 2009, to $19.5 billion.

And experts think health club attendees, who increased to an all-time high average of 102 days last year, will opt to put their money where the ecological grass is greener.

"As people progressively become more aware of their carbon footprint, and integrate ways to reduce it daily, they will have an expectation that other places they frequent, like their health clubs, will do the same," Shemin said.

"All of Club One and Frog's Fitness' 19 California-based chains have recently been remodeled to be more eco-conscious," said spokesperson Kari Bedgood.

She said renovations include rubber flooring made out of used car tires, roof-top solar thermal water panels and bio-degradable cleaning products.   Continued...