Health on the Homestead: Indoor Exercise Bike that Helps Power the Farm

Reader Contribution by John D. Ivanko and Inn Serendipity
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 Photo courtesy SportsArt

Like so many homesteaders this past year, we pivoted digital, implemented contactless deliveries for our organic fruits and vegetables, and found ourselves implementing many, if not all, of our emergency preparedness protocols. Our once, highly profitable agritourism operation of Inn Serendipity was severely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic and a climate change-induced extreme weather calamity: a hail storm that took out windows and dented up our metal roof. At least we didn’t get the land-based hurricane known as the derecho that hit parts of Iowa just 125 miles away.

We recognized, almost immediately, in March of 2020, what we were up against with the pandemic in the US. Like many Mother Earth News readers, we prepared for something like this. So, we committed massive cost-saving cuts and embraced the reality of life on the farm, rarely leaving the safety of the homestead. Besides pivoting digital with an online course like my wife Lisa Kivirist’s How to Start a Food Business from your Home Kitchen, or virtual events like the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference, we re-crafted our health and wellness routine.

Today, my wife starts her day with a brisk morning exercise regimen, followed by yoga later in the day. My young adult son devised his own “bucket-with-weights work-out” that ended on a pull-up bar added to beams in our strawbale greenhouse.

After exploring various options for indoor exercise bikes so that we could invest in our health and remain fit through the long Wisconsin winter, we opted for the SportsArt G575R Recumbent Cycle, an older model we lucked out in finding. When plugged into a standard power outlet, our physical exertion generates power that is converted to utility-grade electricity. SportsArt Eco-Powr cycles have integrated micro-inverters built in. The company is the first of its kind to harness the power of human energy and put it back into the grid.

Besides providing exercise without ever having to leave the homestead, or even the farmhouse, the innovative SportsArt Eco-Powr technology in the bicycle allows us to generate electricity while biking, and therefore, helping offset some of our carbon emissions. As a completely solar-powered homestead, we watch every Watt of energy consumption. So, to be able to work out, keep fit and generate electricity with every hour we’re on the stationary bicycle was a boost to our overall farmstead sustainability efforts.

By continuing our average, daily, hour-long bicycle workout, at the current production level of about 80 Watts per hour, by the end of a year, we would have met 29.2 kWhrs of our house electricity needs. The sturdy, well-built SportsArt G575R Recumbent Cycle features a vented padded back seat and molded for more comfort and support. Both the seat and back are adjustable and handles easy to reach. The bike includes two USB ports, allowing us to recharge our electronic devices with our own pedal-power.

SportsArt recently released the Vatio G516 Indoor Cycle designed for gyms and cycling classes, featuring sleek angles and state-of-the-art energy generating technology to produce an engaging workout. It’s a slimmed-down version of our older model cycle, but with the same Eco-Powr features.

“If someone does a one-hour work out on the Vatio and they produce 80 watt-hours (Wh) per workout, they’ll have produced 560 watt-hours in total, which is the equivalent to about the same amount of electricity a 50” LED 4K television would use in almost two days,” affirms Ruben Mejia, SportsArt Executive Vice President. This puts it in perspective, given all the lockdowns and sheltering in place going on over the past year and increased TV viewing by many.

“Just like any device that is plugged into an outlet, the Vatio will draw power while it is idle,” adds Mejia. “However, each of our ECO-POWR machines come with a sleep setting that turns off the unit when it is not in use. This setting can turn the machine off as quickly as one minute and up to sixty minutes. With the Vatio, turning the pedals is how you turn on the unit.”

We found our well-built exercise bicycle an excellent value given that we no longer needed our annual YMCA membership cost of around $800. After less than four years of use, it should offset the cost of the gym membership. It also saves us the time and energy used to drive into town to go to the gym. Finally, staying more fit during the pandemic may save us many times more due to the rising cost of healthcare. From our perspective, a home gym is always safer, providing us piece of mind. Our workouts are pragmatic and focused; we never went to the gym for social purposes.

As a bonus, once it’s safe again to open up the B&B, we now have a new amenity for our guests.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authoredRural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winningECOpreneuringandFarmstead Chefalong with operatingInn Serendipity B&Band Farm, completely powered by the sun. Both have been speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer andphotographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solarand9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, a 10.8 kW solar power station and millions of ladybugs. Read all of John’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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