The health and fitness sector attracts millions of enthusiasts from all walks of life. While managing such an establishment is a rewarding venture in terms of profitability, let’s remember that consumers are now looking to embrace more sustainable lifestyles.
A 2020 study conducted by IBM found that an incredible 80 per cent of all consumers consider the notion of sustainability important when making everyday decisions.
The good news is that gyms and fitness centres can embrace these approaches by making a handful of small changes. Let us look at nine expert suggestions as well as the benefits of each.
1. Addressing Water Waste
One of the most effective sustainable approaches involves mitigating water waste in bathrooms. Here are two examples of the steps which can be taken:
- Installing low-flow showerheads
- Using press-to-activate taps
It is also wise to post signs within specific areas (such as bathrooms and shower facilities) to remind members to reduce their water consumption.
2. Go Paperless
The average fitness complex consumes a considerable amount of wastepaper. These products massively contribute to the carbon footprint of any establishment. The good news is that eliminating these is relatively simple thanks to modern technology.
One effective strategy involves replacing traditional paper towel dispensers with hand-drying machines. If paper products are used, make it a point to state that they have been manufactured from recycled materials. This leads us to our next main point.
3. Promote the Benefits of Recycling
This next suggestion is particularly relevant for gyms that cater to a high number of members. In most cases, these establishments serve snacks and refreshments (even if in the form of vending machines). Highlight the locations of any rubbish bins that can be used for certain materials such as glass, paper and plastic.
4. Purchase User-Powered Machines
Believe it or not, there are plenty of gym machines that are now powered by the users themselves. After all, why not transform sweat into electricity whenever possible? This is particularly effective for locations associated with large banks of units such as treadmills and stationary bicycles.
5. Discourage the Use of Plastics in the Gym
While certain nations (such as Norway) recycle up to 97 per cent of their plastic products, the same cannot always be said for other countries. Not only can plastics release harmful chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but they require tens of thousands of years to decompose.
Make it a point to discourage the presence of plastic bottles and similar materials within the gym. Promote refillable bottles and provide a source of on-site mineral water. This will help to limit the amount of plastic that would otherwise be discarded while simultaneously lowering the carbon footprint of your establishment.
6. Smart Electrical Systems
Many articles emphasise the benefits of modern green office technology. So, why not employ some of these same devices within your gym? Energy-efficient heating and lighting solutions will help to reduce the impact of your premises on the environment. Here are some products to consider:
- Low-wattage lightbulbs (such as LED units)
- Motion-activated lights in hallways, stairwells and changing areas.
- Programmable thermostats with zoning controls.
- Solar panels to generate on-site electricity.
Although these systems may represent a slight investment, the cost will be quickly offset by long-term energy savings.
7. Support Local Vendors
Many gyms offer their patrons brand-name products. While this may be attractive from a marketing point of view, it is hardly friendly to the environment. Items that are shipped from great distances contribute to global warming due to transportation alone. Also, the chances are high that many of these items (such as foods and beverages) are not organically produced.
It is much better to partner with nearby businesses. Not only will this method reduce your carbon footprint, but you can help support the local economy. In other words, this is a win-win situation.
8. Partner with Well-Known Sustainable Organisations
Take a moment to think about the products your gym purchases monthly. Non-perishable items such as beauty creams, mats, sanitiser, and workout apparel are common examples. How many of these are derived from sustainable sources? Try to seek out environmentally responsible companies. While this is a healthier approach, it can also work wonders if you hope to promote an eco-friendly brand.
9. Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
All gyms must be hygienic for health and safety reasons. Unfortunately, many common cleaning supplies are dangerous to the environment. They contain harsh chemicals and similar substances which can have a massive long-term environmental impact.
Instead, choose green and biodegradable cleaning products. Here are some hallmarks to look out for:
- They will not impact indoor air quality.
- They contain no volatile organic compounds.
- Their containers are made from reused or recycled substances.
- They are not toxic to humans or animals.
All About Shared Responsibility
These are nine effective ways to create an environmentally friendly gym for your members. Although some may take longer to implement than others, there is no doubt that the long-term benefits are well worth the effort!
Peter Keane is the owner and head physiotherapist at PHYSIOMOTION3D. Peter takes pride in knowing he can help make these environmental changes within the health and fitness industry.