Working out at the gymBy Trystan L. Bass
Looking to get in shape by beach time and do it in an earth-friendly style too? That's easier than you might think.
Step one: Replace the plastic water bottle with stainless-steel
Plenty of sturdy, fashionable versions are available, and they should fit into the cup holders of your gym's elliptical machines.
You've probably heard about the problems with plastic. To recap, the disposable bottles are wasteful, and packaged water is unregulated. Refill your own bottle from the tap to conserve resources.
Step two: B.Y.O. towel
Sure, many gyms offer fancy towel service. But when you bring your own from home, you control what kind of detergents are used to wash the towel, so you can choose more enviro-conscious, biodegradable brands. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a handy tip sheet about safer cleaning supplies.
Plus, you don't need to bleach towels unnaturally white (let's face it, gyms only do that so you get the impression they're super-clean). Exposure to chlorine bleach can cause health problems. And even in medical situations, chlorine bleach is of questionable help for sanitizing - it's primarily a whitener. Oxygen bleaches do the same thing more safely.
You can go a step further and ask your gym what laundry cleaners it uses. If it uses a lot of chemicals and chlorine, suggest gentler alternatives. If they hear it from enough customers, things may change.
Step three: Step into some green shoes
Or at least see if your current shoes are up to snuff. Some of the materials used to make athletic shoes can be pretty harmful to the environment, but manufacturers are starting to wise up.
Extra credit: Try yoga on a natural mat
Whether made of cotton, rubber, hemp, or jute, natural yoga mats are a green alternative to petroleum-based PVC. Yoga itself is an exercise emphasizing stretching and balance that most anyone can try.
At this time of year, when the weather keeps us inside, we can still pick up a new activity. Winter is the right time for yoga. You can look for classes or get a DVD or video to try at home. Go slow and see what works for you.
With these three or four steps, we're on the way to trimmer, healthier bodies by summer. Let's keep up the good work!
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