Gym lifts power level

How hot can six sweaty men working out on rowing machines make a room in 40 minutes? Five degrees hotter, as Andy Baxter, owner of Ashland gym Baxter Fitness Solutions, found out Tuesday night.

Baxter asked a local green business expert to study how much energy six athletes could create and maintain for 40 minutes and how much their workout would heat the room.

Baxter hopes to use the energy created in his gym, which accepts members 50 and older, to power generators, equipment and fans. His goal is to have a 100 percent green gym, he said.

"Really we're most of the way there anyway," he said. "I thought I'd just take it to the next level."

In addition to heating the room 5 degrees, the men generated a consistent 900 watts throughout the exercise, Baxter said.

"It was a resounding success," he said this morning. "It worked out perfectly."

Baxter hopes to configure the workout machines in his gym — which are already powered by the people using them — to feed the energy created back into his power grid. He is an inventor for SciFit, the company that makes the workout machines in his gym.

The results from the temperature portion of the study showed that he may be able to use less heating in the winter, he said.

John Lamy, director of research and education for Triple Bottom Line for the 21st Century, ran the experiment.

"I'm totally excited about doing it," he said before the data collection began. "You can just sort of feel the testosterone."

The six athletes, members of Ashland Rowing Club, worked out in groups of three for 20 minutes each in a "room" in the gym that was created by wrapping plastic around wood beams.

They emerged from the room dripping in sweat because of the humidity and heat — not because the workout was especially intense, they said.

"Man, it's hot in there," said Baxter, who rowed in the Beijing Olympic Trials last year alongside Steve Kiesling, who also participated in the experiment. "It's a lot harder to breath because it's so hot and muggy in there."

After the men were done with their workouts, as a control experiment, Lamy put a 900 watt heater in the room to see if it would generate the same amount of heat.

It generated slightly less heat than the six men did, Baxter said.

Lamy said the results of the experiment — the 5 degree temperature increase and the 900 watts generated — corresponded to his expectations.

"I was looking for it to be a big enough change that I could believe it," he said. "And this, I definitely believe it."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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