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Sunday, May 16, 2021

New self-powered exercise equipment installed in rec center

Sean Petersmark, project lead for RECycling Your Power and Western graduate, encourages rider to try out the self-powered exercise bikes outside of their new home in the Wade King Student Recreation Center on Tuesday, April 19. // Photo courtesy of Colleen Sengstock.
Sean Petersmark, project lead for RECycling Your Power and Western graduate, encourages a rider to try out the self-powered exercise bikes outside of the Wade King Student Recreation Center on Tuesday, April 19. // Photo courtesy of Colleen Sengstock.

On the second floor of the Wade King Student Recreation Center, among the cardio equipment, are four new and completely self-powered bicycling machines. The bikes are made out of 100 percent recycled material, said of the RECycling Your Power team member Katie Thompson.

The RECycling Your Power student team has been working two years for this sustainability project come to fruition. The bikes were installed on April 15, 2016, and are now available for student use.

The members of RECycling Your Power team include project lead Sean Petersmark, researcher Katie Thompson, researcher Drew Swisher, and public relations and outreach organizer Colleen Sengstock.

The machines were purchased with a grant from Western’s Sustainable Action Fund. The fund is a student-initiated organization that collects a seven-dollar fee on top of each student’s quarterly fees, Thompson said.

Thompson, a senior in the business and sustainability program, said that the technogym bikes were more expensive up front than some of the other gear but they have affordable maintenance policies.

The RECycling Your Power grant received $24,000 from the $300,000 fund to pay for the four bikes and their maintenance, installation and delivery. Sengstock said the cost of the power producing bikes is not much more than regular exercise equipment.

Sean Petersmark of RECycling Your Power recently graduated with a business and sustainability degree and said the bikes are “the Ferraris” of this type of machine. The bikes have a smooth appearance, comfortable feel and high-tech interface in addition to the power-producing technology, Petersmark said.

The bikes use the rotational kinetic energy created by the rider to establish a closed-loop system. As the person pedals, they power the screen and features where the user can monitor how much wattage they are producing.

The interface also features web access so users can log on to Facebook, stream Netflix, play Angry Birds and even use Skype while working out.

Katie Thompson, current lead of the RECycling Your Power student team, talks to passersby about the new self-sustaining Technogym equipment at an unveiling event held outside of the Wade King Student Recreation Center on Tuesday, April 19. // Photo courtesy of Colleen Sengstock.
Katie Thompson, current lead of the RECycling Your Power student team, talks to passersby about the new self-sustaining Technogym equipment at an unveiling event held outside of the Wade King Student Recreation Center on Tuesday, April 19. // Photo courtesy of Colleen Sengstock.

“I had one lady who was all about the bikes just because of the way they felt,” Petersmark said. “She didn’t really care that they were made out of recycled material or produce power, but she really liked the seat.”

Carol Berry, a faculty member in the Office of Sustainability, got to test one of the new bikes out at the Earth Day Festival on Friday, April 22. “What I loved was that I could not only see the calories burned and the miles that I was going but I could also see the electricity that I generated while I was doing it, so it was really motivating to keep pedalling,” she said.

Junior Taylor Huggett also tried out the bike at the festival. She said the bike was a little lengthy for her 5-foot-2-inch physique but that she liked the concept behind it.

“I think it’s a perfect fit for Western because the school itself and a lot of the students stand for sustainability,” Huggett said. “I’m sure a lot of students would get behind it.”

Petersmark admitted that these four machines aren’t going to make that much of a difference in terms of overall energy use, but he also said that wasn’t the point of the project.

“It’s to lay the blueprint and the foundation for other students to bring in more machines,” he said. “Essentially, if all the machines in the rec center used this technology, we could run the rec center on human power.”

Thompson and Sengstock agree that student demand will bring more of this type of equipment to the gym, either in the form of another student grant or the rec center responding to student interest.

“Just the other day I had a student come up to me who was in the entrepreneurship program and say ‘Hey, I had this idea too but someone told me it was about to happen,’ and I said ‘That’s awesome! Do it better than me!’” Petersmark said.

He said he hopes that students will take initiative to keep building upon this project and others like it that will come out of the Sustainable Action Fund in the future.

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