6  September 2021, by Maximilian Gaub

Sustainable fitness: sweat to save the world

Constantly planting trees or generating energy: New concepts use fitness technology to make the world a better place through training. Let’s look at three ideas. 

© Shutterstock

What if – just as a little thought experiment – we could do something good for the world while we are training? This is precisely the idea underlying a still young segment of the fitness sector, which has already been known as Sustainable Fitness in English-speaking countries for quite a while. One of the pioneers of this promising approach is Laurent Petit, founder of the start-up Active Giving. His idea is as simple as it is revolutionary: His App makes it possible to do something good for the climate and to plant trees – as a reward for your training sessions. With his concept Petit wants to particularly address young people who – don’t we all know it – simply find it hard to put on their sports shoes on some days. “These people,” Petit tells the FitTech Insider, “probably find their motivation elsewhere: They do not get up to do something for themselves but also for the planet.” 



© Active Giving

Founder Laurent Petit combines training and climate protection

Fitness and climate linked via technology: “Every kilometre makes an impact”

So ‘Active Giving’ links fitness with climate protection via technology and it does so for as many people as possible. In future, Petit and his team plan to embed the App in a social network so that people can connect and share their successes.


“Our vision is to become the first social fitness platform for a cause.” In actual fact, the doers behind ‘Active Giving’ have a lot planned for the future. “We want to become an App that forms part of people’s daily lives. The key thing is that it makes no difference whether you walk for a kilometre or train to participate in the Iron Man – it has an impact”, says Petit. “I think it is really exciting to be active in this field right now when people understand that the time has come for change.” 

Electricity thanks to muscle power: “Time to give some power back”

Time for change – also and specifically in the fitness industry. This approach is also pursued by Gold’s Gym, the legendary fitness chain established in 1965 by the former US marine Joe Gold. In April it established the first fitness club in Berlin-Spandau that is completely CO2-neutral. This is ensured by a CHP plant in the basement and solar panels on the roof. And fitness enthusiasts can do something for themselves – and for the environment here, too, on a daily basis. On “Green Sunday” the gym opens its doors to guests who can work out for free on 200 Boost Bikes. They generate electricity from muscle power, up to 400 kilowatt hours every month – this corresponds to 400 hours of non-stop hoovering. 


© Gold’s Gym

With 150 cycle ergometers, the gym can generate its own electricity


 “For more than half a century we have gone to extremes at Gold’s Gym, lifting tons of weights and circling the planet by bike. It is high time to finally give back some of this incredible power,” explain those behind the idea in a video. “And who could use this better than our good old earth? And this is precisely the reason why in Berlin attention was paid to building the club with the most environment-saving materials: Tiles from recycled plastic bottles, parts of the floor are made of waste tyres.


It is the little things that bring about major change – as also demonstrated by other clubs around the globe. Like the fitness chain “Terra Hale” (freely translated as Strong Earth), which is known by Sustainable Fitness fans beyond UK borders. And this is precisely the point: Using little details and sophisticated technology to raise awareness that your own body and the soil you are standing on are connected to each other for ever. This is why the clubs are built from recycled materials and plants create a harmonious green atmosphere while incidentally filtering the air.  

© Edelkraft 

Climate neutral thanks to fine-tuned manufacturing processes 

However, the market now also offers alternatives for sports enthusiasts who like to work out at home and brands that would like to take the first step towards sustainability – as demonstrated by the Berlin label Edelkraft. It markets all types of training items for home use – produced sustainably and fairly. The wood used for push-up handles or abdominal trainers is FSC or PEFC-certified – sourced from forestry that complies with high environmental protection guidelines. The label also guarantees that wood production is climate-neutral thanks to well-coordinated manufacturing processes. The ropes used for gym rings are made of recycled plastic bottles; the label has this material produced in a 100% climate-neutral way in the Netherlands thanks to a big PV system. Again the rule applies: Thanks to extremely efficient technology and short delivery distances high amounts of energy and resources can be saved compared to conventional production.  

All of this – and much more comes care of the Sustainable Fitness market. This shows: Whoever leads the way with creative ideas has a bright future ahead. 

About the FitTech Radar Series

Technology is becoming more and more intertwined with the fitness and health worlds on many levels. What tech trends are we in for over the coming months? In this monthly series those behind our cooperation partner FitTech Summit provide you with insights into tomorrow’s world of fitness and health technologies. 

About the author Maximilian Gaub

Gaub is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of FitTech Summit headquartered in Munich. This conference and networking platform centres on fitness technologies and the future of well-being and active lifestyle. “We link and support market players,” he says. 

The fifth edition of the Innovation Conference will be held in a digital format on 8 and 9 November under the heading “Tech or Die!”. “Our thesis reads: The fitness sector must adopt technology – or it will become extinct,” says Natalia Karbasova, CEO FitTech Company. The topics covered by the conference: Big Tech, Interfaces and AI. For all information visit https://fittechsummit.com/