Global Warming Solution

June 4th, 2007

About two weeks ago I was watching an episode of Will & Grace, in which Jack and Will are in a gym arguing about Jack’s behaviour, while in the mean time Will is doing sit-ups. Having seen the episode before (I think they’re funny enough to watch the re-runs), my mind didn’t need to pay much attention to follow their conversation, and it was wandering off: why do people go to a gym to do sit-ups – what’s the use? I answer myself: to stay fit of course. So, how come we have to do sit-ups to stay fit? Because we’re doing desk jobs, instead of physical labour like our grandparents and great grandparents and eh..even older ancestors.

At least physical labour has a purpose – after a lot of man hours involving the use of bricks and mortar a house appears, and bringing in the harvest from the land costs honest sweat. People worked hard, and they lived off the results of that physical work. It’s a shame to see a man do sit-ups, without any tangible results other than this one man staying fit (and perhaps a nice six-pack to look at). It’s basically a lot of energy being thrown away while the world has a shortage of clean non-polluting energy sources.

I figured all these empty sweat drops (as in empty calories which aren’t empty either) should be put to use somehow. And that’s where my “light bulb moment” (sorry for the Oprah-speak) happened:

Why don’t all these gyms and fitness clubs hook up their equipment to some giant capacitor or something, so that all the clerks and other non-physical-work-people can do something useful while they’re keeping fit? With the amount of gyms these days, this could produce quite a bit of electricity.

Today I discovered I wasn’t the only person thinking that fitness machines could produce electricity. Apparently there’s a plan for a snackbar (that’s what we call a fish & chips shop because here in Holland instead of selling fish to go with our chips, we prefer a whole range of other unhealthy snacks that combine nicely with our chips – which we almost invariably eat with a good dose of just as unhealthy mayonnaise by the way) in Amsterdam, where people have to ‘earn’ their unhealthy snacks by first providing all the electricity needed to prepare them. Snackbar “Mevrouw CAT” (Mrs. CAT)’s owner Jackie Simons is currently looking for a location in Amsterdam to start her business, which will have five bicycles, one rowing machine, and a stepping thing (what are they called in English?) ready for her clients. I seriously wonder if this business will take off at all, as the only time I ever go to the snackbar for chips, is when I’m too lazy or busy to cook a healthy meal, and I certainly won’t feel like cycling half an hour instead!

However, the idea behind this snackbar is not just to let people burn the calories they’re eating, but rather the same idea as I had when watching Will Truman doing sit-ups. Quoting Jackie Simons:

“In our continuously expanding society, people work up a sweat to keep their slim appearance. They’re hopping on step machines, rowing while all the time staying in the same spot, or pushing the pedals of their gym-bicycles. But up till now nothing happened with that energy.”

“If all sports centers in Amsterdam would hook up, an entire African village could be provided with electricity.”

source: Algemeen Dagblad (dutch newspaper)

And that’s exactly what I was thinking 🙂

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