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Hartford Yoga Studio Puts New Spin On Saving Energy

Electricity Generated During Cycling Classes Fed Back Into Grid


April 05, 2013

HARTFORD Responding to an instructor's command, four women on exercise bikes pick up the pace, sending the bar graph on the screen overhead above 100 watts.

The women are doing more than exercising. Their spirited effort is generating electricity, enough to light a 100-watt light bulb or run two laptops.

At Downtown Yoga Studios on Pratt Street, pedal power is more than just spinning.

Burning calories has generated electricity since 2011 at the studio's Cycled Energy classes thanks to mini-generators attached to its stationary bikes. The power generated is fed into the grid, lowering the studio's Connecticut Light & Power bills and even making its meter spin backwards at times, owner T. J. Clynch said.

Clynch said he installed the system for two reasons: To save money and help the environment.

"You can do business in an environmentally conscious way," Clynch said. "You wouldn't believe how many people I've met who say, 'I've always wondered why people don't do that.'"

CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross applauded Downtown Yoga's power play.

"These customers are being proactive in helping to control energy costs, and that's something we encourage all our customers to do," Gross said.

Nicole Burnham of Hartford said she took the class in part because it was environmentally friendly.

"I like the green aspect," said Burnham, a waitress at Vaughan's Public House downstairs. "I think it's great. The energy you're putting out is going right back in."

Johanna Zuber of Middletown, a materials manager at Pratt & Whitney in that town, said that her co-workers are intrigued that she generates electricity when she works out.

"They want to know how many watts I created in cycling class," she said.

One of the best aspects of the system is that it makes people less competitive, instructor Danielle Sitler said. Instead, people focus on how much electricity they and the group are generating, she said.

"It's not like you're competing with the person next to you," Sitler said. "It's a collective effort. You're all cooperating."

Downtown Yoga Studio uses a system made by Ridgefield-based The Green Revolution Inc. The company's systems include generators, computer software to record and display output and an inverter to send the electricity into the power grid.

The company also puts meters on each bicycle, enabling the rider to measure their output along with that of the group on the overhead screen.

Company founder and CEO Jay Whalen said he came up with the idea while using an upper body machine to rehabilitate a shoulder injury. Bored, he began thinking and realized that the energy he was expending could go to another use.

"Why not put it into electricity?" he recalled thinking. "Why not put it into the power grid?"

Whalen started The Green Revolution in 2009 and has sold his system to about 75 clubs in North America so far, he said.

"People get a good workout, and they're helping the planet," Whalen said.

Clynch said that he did not know how much the bikes were saving him in electricity, but Whalen said one club reported a $1,000-a-month decline in its power bills.

Interestingly, only about half of that came from power generated by the bikes, Whalen said. The rest resulted from new energy-saving mentality inspired by the system, leading customers and staff to turn off lights and TVs, he said.

"The whole mindset changed," he said.

Downtown Yoga Studios, meanwhile, plans to more aggressively market its electricity-generating bikes.

"It's our own brand of spin," said Tim Moore, director of business development.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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