GOLETA, Calif. - Two local gyms are doing their part to reduce energy use and one facility caught the eye of a national magazine.
From pedal power, to weights, gyms are a place for people to get in shape, drop a few pounds and now generate electricity while building up a sweat.
University of California Santa Barbara's recreation center has five stationary bikes that actually pump energy back into the grid.
"I think it's a great idea. It's eco-friendly. If they could do this to more of the machines it could supply energy to the whole establishment," said student Greyson Schultz.
Other machines at the recreation center are powered only by the people on them and do not plug into an outlet.
"I know all the students who come in, kind of a new generation, that's their focus," said Bruce Hansen, the recreation center general manager.
AC4 Fitness owner Tony Calhoun has been in the gym business for three decades. He said a lot has changed, and he is glad to be on the cutting edge.
"Technology is becoming more and more available across the nation, if not the world," said Cahoun.
The AC4 Fitness gyms in both Goleta and Santa Barbara use ReRev on all the ellipticals. It converts workouts into useable energy.
Maria Tziouvaras has been a member of the gym since it opened in 2012 but still gets a thrill when she sees the energy monitor increase with every stride.
"Am I really putting that much energy into the facility? It just feels really cool to me to be able to do that. It's not something you see or do every day at any other gym," she said.
Cahloun explained how the system works by pointing to the cords coming out of the ellipticals.
"These cords are not consuming power, they're actually taking power out of the machine, the kinetic energy, and converting it," he said.
A typical workout on an elliptical machine will produce 50 to 100 watt hours of electricity. That means a laptop can be powered for about 30 minutes. But at the gym, it's used to power things like the lights and the fan.
Both Hansen, from UCSB, and Calhoun, from AC4 Fitness, agree the energy produced is not a lot, but if more people jump on board, every little bit helps.
"It's a drop in the bucket, but it's in addition to it, and anything helps," said Hansen.
At AC4 it's not just about the cardio machines. The gym is eco-friendly everywhere the eye can see.
A giant, 16-foot fan on the ceiling reduces the need for air conditioning, and the furniture used to belong to the former bank that occupied the space.
"And that includes the front desk that used to be a teller line, a bank teller line, but also the office back there," said Calhoun.
The gym also has a built-in water refilling station.
"Our objective is to take plastic off the street," he said.
Members sign up online, reducing the amount of paper, as well.
"We've gotten so good at it, when I need a piece of paper to write on, I can't even find paper around the club," said Cahoun.
All of it was so impressive to Shape Magazine, it named AC4 the Eco-Friendliest Gym in America.
"This little Goleta club, 5,700 square feet. That was a great affirmation as to the work that we've been doing here," he said.
Calhoun and his sons run the show at both locations. They said although going green doesn't necessarily save them any, it's well worth it.Slideshow: Local Eco-Friendly Gym Gets National Recognition