Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today in English we had an assignment to write an aphorism - a short and witty line that captures a strong belief that you hold about life.

Now, I knew there were about a million of them hidden away somewhere in my noggin that I had thought of previously. My memory was temporarily blocked however, and so I had to fish around for some new ones. I came up with three, distributed between myself, an 'anonymous' contributor, and Jason. Here's what we came up with.

#1, submitted by Christopher Thatcher

If you aspire to become a high school physics teacher, you should probably start collecting matching shoes and watches now...

#2, submitted by Anonymous. (it was me!)

High school relationships are alot like peeing in a urinal. Great and all, but if you get too close it'll come back and hit you.

#3 was mean, so we had Jason turn it in as his. We'll leave it to him to post it. C'mon slacker.

It's been long enough, I guess it's time to post that gym idea before it leaves my brain forever. I've held it in so long that it's lost a lot of its luster for me, I don't like it as much right now as I did back in the day when my neurons first proposed it. But hey, I'm going to lose it if I don't post it, so I might as well.

/turns on my 'ideas' music. (Dream Big - Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band)

Everybody loves going to the gym. It's good for you. As you work out your body reduces endorphins, natural happy pills inside your brain. Your lose body fat and gain muscle mass. You find daily tasks easier and quicker, your balance is improved, and your self esteem goes through the roof. Your mind is sharper and life is better.

Exercise is an integral part of achieving happiness during your journey through life. I am confident that there is a direct relationship between the amount of exercise we get and our personal health and happiness. All of our mental and emotional capacities are improved as we improve our bodies.

In this busy world that we live in it is difficult for many to find time to exercise regularly. Gyms provide the only viable opportunity for many to get a good work out. Most don't have time to go on a nine mile run on the parkway, and few are going to be able to find a nice mountain trail to bike on for half an hour. Many gyms are available 24 hours a day to help you become better. As you drive home from work, you're free to stop in and bike for 20 minutes and follow it up with a little lifting.

The idea here is that it's quick, easy, and good for you. Gyms exist to make the whole working out experience available for everyone. I love the gym. The entire facility is pervaded with an aura of self improvement that I haven't found anywhere else in the world. Everyone there is there to make themselves better. It's not like school where the masses are funneled into molds in the hope that they will catch a bit of knowledge along the way. There are no unwilling participants at the gym, no one is forced to be there. They made the choice to come and work out in order to make themselves better. That, friends, is a very noble choice to make.

One would think that, assuming the information I have given you is accurate, everyone would be going to the gym regularly. No one would be left without a workout, the whole world would be healthier.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. A very small percentage of the world has a membership to a gym. There are a number of reasons for this, and I have identified my main three.

  • Cost. Most gyms charge a monthly membership fee.
  • Boredom. Cycling for 30 minutes while watching silent day-time soap operas and reading poorly typed captions gets old after a while.
  • Time constraints. Many are just too busy to find an hour to hit the gym.

Now, I am no expert on gyms. The truth is that I've only ever been to one, and I've never payed to be there. I truthfully do not know how the whole business side of it works. I do however have a lot of time to sit and think whilst I run or cycle at the gym, and I believe the increased oxygen flow to my brain facilitates greater mental reasoning than under normal circumstances. So, without further ado, my concept to solve the aforementioned problems.

Imagine a gym with no membership cost. A gym that you could walk right in to without ever signing a paper. Music to my ears, but it presents a serious problem for whoever is running the gym. They stand to do nothing but lose money on the adventure, gyms are expensive to keep going. You've got to pay for the equipment, the lease on the land and building, the utilities, the janitors, the workers.

So how can one make money without charging membership fees? Well, what do you have to work with?

As a gym, (and a free gym at that), you have a multitude of people coming to you every day who want to do nothing more than expend excess energy. Everything they desire for the next hour of their life revolves around moving weights from one place to another, whether that weight be their own body or a plate of iron.

These people come every day. They stay anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, and most of them smell terrible by the time they leave. In any given day, the combined miles your gym will travel in cycling and running will total over 1000 miles. You will move ridiculous amounts of weight, defeat even the most stubborn antiperspirant.

You have, at your disposal, an army of workers that want to give up their work for free. You are leaps and bounds ahead of even the most crooked fruit farmers. The trick is learning how to make money off of these costumers without ever charging them for coming in.

So, how do you do it? Convert your gym into a genuine power plant.

When I bike, I bike hard. I pump the resistance level way up and pedal my heart out. I set a goal to travel six miles in 15 minutes. I know the pace that I have to follow, and I set out to do it. If I find myself behind target, I pick it up and pedal like mad. The last two minutes are always the worst. My thighs burn like mad, the oxygen cycle is accelerated and my heart rate goes through the roof.

And for what? Better legs and lungs tomorrow, and the satisfaction that I hit my goal. Where does all my work go? No where, the bike just cycles. The resistance is applied, and all the work I do against it does nothing but heat up whatever is holding the pedals back. All that energy is essentially wasted as heat.

Enter the next generation of work out equipment. This time instead of me turning a closed system that does nothing but work against friction when I pump those pedals, I'm going to be producing pure and unadulterated electricity. We've all played the original Mario Party, and most of us have been lucky enough to be drawn to play the one player mini game in which Mario must blister-pedal a bike to power a giant light bulb before boo shows up and eats him.

Now, our bikes don't have giant light bulbs on them, and boo hasn't attacked any of my costumers yet. However, the concept is the same. You are pedaling and converting your own mechanical energy into electric current.

All the bikes are like this, and they are all feeding in to your main gym grid. Your elliptical machines are the same as well. Rigging the weight machines will be slightly trickier, but still practical and possible.

Essentially, all of your machines will be about producing electricity to be sold back. Due to this design there's a good chance that the gym will not have any treadmills. Treadmills are the only machine that I haven't found a way to make a positive energy exchange on. Everything else stands to make some serious wattage.

That's the concept. Create a gym that is, for all intensive purposes, a power plant. Offer people a convenient place to come and cycle at, elliptical at, and lift at. Harness the power of the masses, and convert their mechanical energy into electrical current.

Now, chances of making a lot of money on this scheme are pretty low. What's the membership fee for a normal gym for a month? Let's just say 30 dollars.

Ok wow. I just did some calculations. It ends up that in 2004, a kilowatt hour of electricity was selling for something like 9 cents. A kilowatt hour is the same as 3.6 megajoules, or 3,600,000 joules. A joule, as we know, is defined as the energy required to exert a force of one newton for a distance of one meter.

However, thanks to wikipedia, we figured out that a kW h = 860,000 calories. Those are the scientific calories, not the working out calories. Working out calories are in fact kCals, or 1000 calories.

So, in short. If you were to burn 860 calories and lose no energy to heat, and then sell off all of that madness, you'd get about 9 cents out of the deal.

But hey, look on the bright side. You'd burn 860 calories. After a week of that you're gonna be ripped.

Back to all seriousness. That's all based on random stuff that I just pretended to learn 10 minutes ago. It may or may not be accurate. For the sake of me not feeling like I wasted the last hour of my life writing this plan, let's continue.

We're going to pretend that the mechanical advantage that a bike makes for me lets me make a whole lot more energy than normal. We're also going to assume that the future is going to bring us even more efficient bikes.

The concept is easy here. You build a gym that costs as little as possible to operate. You don't have anything too fancy. No swimming pool, no treadmills. Just the basics, what the common man wants. Who honestly comes to a gym to swim? Maybe .5% of the actual population of the gym ever swims. Therefore, don't spend resources on it.

You don't need a huge facility. During the day you don't need to run the lights, let the sun-lights pour in and light everything up. Build it as energy efficient as possible. Put solar panels on the roof just for fun. Then, hook all of your machinery up to a grid, and hook that grid back up to the city. Take care of all the power that your gym requires (very little) and sell the rest back.

You're not going to turn a profit like this, unless something revolutionary happens. However, you can cut costs, making things easier on everybody. Maybe it's 5 dollars a month instead of 30. Find other ways to make money off of your costumer base. Sell T-shirts, show nothing but advertisements on your televisions. Tempt them with delicious delicious gatorade marked up to a dollar a bottle.

In short, a power plant of a gym does several beneficial things for the world.
  • It has a negative carbon footprint. This baby is giving back to the environment, none of this taking away crap. Instead of contributing x amount of CO2 to the environment annually, this thing is technically taking it away. It's not only powering itself, but it powers the walmart down the street as well.
  • It creates a cheap way for people to get a work out. They don't have to pay 30 dollars to come work out, they just show up. You win, they win. We all win. Everyone is healthy, and the world is a better place.
  • If you're tricky enough you can make a little money off of it. Like, really tricky.
So that's the main idea. There's more that could go along with it. You could team up with the government to get some financial support. You could build it connected to the next library that they're gonna build, make it a partnership.

Simply put: It's ridiculous that all the lung-bursting work I like to do on those cycles does nothing but convert the glucose in my cells to ATP, then that ATP to making those cells do stuff. Those cells doing stuff makes my muscles contract, those muscles make my legs move. That mechanical energy my legs exert move the pedals. The pedals are hard to move because there's a big brake pad rubbing up against the disc inside that I'm spinning. You know what happens to the brake pad? It heats up, and that's all.

Why not fight global warming while I'm pedaling away? Why not relieve some of the stress on the power grid? Why not try to make a crazy business model fly?

Haha, that's all I've got folks. I wonder how short I could make this if I wanted to. Let's try really fast.

I've got a new business model for gyms. Instead of charging membership fees you make it so all your bikes make electricity when they are pedaled, and then you sell that electricity back to make money.

Wow. That was short.

But my post wasn't, it was long.

C'mon friends, smile. Things are alright. We're going to make it. We've seen plenty of trouble already, but none of it managed to kill us. It's not the first time there's been drama, and it's not the first time you didn't stick a 4.0; we survived the last time, we're going to survive this one.


Anonymous said...

This is your best idea since rail guns sending stuff to the moon! I really do think it can work, and in the near future, too.

Oh, and that first aphorism cracked me up. Olsen is a funny man....

Anonymous said...



You're really smart.

Like, real-world-smart and nerd-smart.

Hey, smart kid. Good idea.

Now why don't you crank out a few more so I can write a book and become rich off the proceeds?

Combat Kyle said...

Yeah....I really think shorter is better ;) I liked the little paragraph at the end more than the rest of the post I think :D Still, explanations are...necesarry I guess ^o) Good post, not too sure about the idea though.

Frissa said...

If that idea could be put into action it would be the coolest gym ever. I would go there even if I didn't want to work out. The idae of creating the electricity yourself is exciting.
I loved your post and I definitely needed the explanation.