You may not realize it, but you could generate enough electricity when you exercise to help the electric grid–at least a little bit.

The ten ellipticals, four recumbent cycles and two upright cycles  at the Adler Gym on the Penn State Altoona Campus don’t look any different than the ones you’d see in any other fitness center, but they are.

These machines have built in equipment to harness the human energy created while they’re being used.

Director of Athletics Brent Baird says, “Those pieces are no longer pulling  power from the web and we are generating a small amount of watts back in. Anytime you create any energy  instead of it being wasted, it’s going back into the grid and helps power one of the other pieces of equipment that doesn’t have this type of technology.”

Penn State says up to 74 percent of the energy produced is captured, converted, and returned to the grid.

You can track just how much energy you and fellow exercisers are creating on a large videoboard at the front of the gym and on an app for your phone.
“By no means is it going to power the building, but it will cut and create some surplus watts that we put back in and most importantly not use any more electricity,” Baird says.

After demonstrating the equipment for us, Swim Coach Brad Brooks comments, “I  like being able to look over at the board or look at my phone and see that something that I’m doing is kind of giving back to the school and obviously it’s a win-win because it benefits me from an  exercise perspective but also benefits the school from a sustainability perspective as well.”  

On the day we stopped by, we were told that since the new equipment had been in use, those working out had generated enough watts to power a light bulb for 1734 hours, or run an electric fan for 867 hours

 Baird says Penn State Altoona’s strategic plan has a  strong emphasis on sustainability and this is a practical way to demonstrate that philosophy to students.