Going Green at the Gym



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Consider the environmental impact of your active lifestyle. At first, it may not seem like much: 2 hours at the gym means a few towels, several containers of water or sports drink, time on the treadmill and the fuel to and from the gym. But when totaled up, your workout routine probably equals a surprising amount of waste. But small steps in your routine can help you and the environment stay fit, and you might save money along the way.

The following tips will help you green-up your routine, with hints especially for Austin athletes. And don't worry, we won't even go into ditching plastic waterbottles. We learned our lesson after that scary Brita commercial and feel guilty enough as it is.

1. Make the trip to the gym your warm-up. If you live within walking or running distance to your gym, save your car the miles and make the trip your warm-up. If you don't live within a mile or two, see if there's a safe bike route to take. It takes a little longer, but it can help you unwind after a stressful workday, and a slower trip back makes for a good cool-down, too.

2. Recycle your old shoes. If you train and work out hard, chances are you have a closet full of worn out shoes. Why not recycle them for a discount on your next pair? RunTex offers a discount for old shoes, and Nike's Reuse-a-shoe cleans and retools old athletic shoes and LIVESTRONG wristbands into a new pair of Nikes.

3. Opt out of the T-Shirt at your next race. If you do a lot of races and rides, getting a free but often ugly and over-sized shirt has probably lost its charm. Many races have an option to opt out of the shirt in the registration packet. If not, you can still donate or reuse the shirt.

4. Be environmentally smart at the gym. Usually, the big, 24-hour gyms have an astronomical electric bill. Help out by making sure to turn your TV off when you're done, and try to bring your own towel to cut down on laundry loads. You can also think about what you use when you're at the gym-- in terms of energy used, treadmills are essentially SUVs in disguise. Try out resistance bands, medicine balls and glider plates for a cleaner, Prius-like workout.

5. Watch out for excess packaging. Buy energy bars in bulk, or make your own. Try out these recipes for easy, healthy energy bars. If cooking isn't your forte, just avoid excess packaging by buying in bulk or keeping an eye out for unnecessary plastic or cardboard.

6. Support a local cause. Austin is lucky to have an abundance of "green" causes to keep its waters clean and wildlife areas secure. Do you frequent the Hike and Bike on your workouts? Consider donating to or joining the The Trail Foundation, which is focused on improving the trail and lake with cleanups and more. Or you could donate to the Hill Country Conservancy's 2011 marathon team. Members will run the Austin Marathon on February 20 to support the protection of open space and air quality in Central Texas.

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