Q: I’m the luckiest man on earth — I’m marrying my college sweetheart and the big day is exactly three months away. But there’s one thing I’m sweating: Because Jamie, the bride to be, is running around like a lunatic, sampling chocolate ganache cakes and then sucking it in for dress fittings, her metabolism has gone haywire and she’s managed to stay slim without even hitting the gym. Me, I have plenty of nervous energy but my body doesn’t work like that … and I’d love to shed 10 pounds and tone up big time before strolling down the aisle.

In terms of exercise, I’m strictly a morning jog kind of guy, but things have gotten so hectic I’m hard pressed to find time to even brush my teeth. I’m thinking that forcing myself into a gym after work for a couple hours every other day may be the way to go but I’ve always been allergic to them. There are plenty of reasons why I don’t do gyms but the main one is simple: I try to keep things as green as possible and gyms just seem to be such inherent energy and water hogs. Do you know anything about green gyms or how to lower my carbon footprint while dropping down a waist size or two?


Panicked and pudgy,

Lou (aka the green reluctant gym bunny), Venice, Calif.



A: Hey Lou,

Hate to say it but the term “green gym” is a bit of an oxymoron. This wedding-themed analogy might be a bit of a stretch, but gyms are like the Las Vegases of physical fitness … people use both to feel better about themselves but they just keep on consuming and consuming and consuming. Think about it: air conditioning on high, bright lights, pumping music, constantly running machines, plenty of questionable, skin-tight fashions, and a hot shower at the end of it all to rinse off the grime.

That said, there are actually quite a few gyms out there making sweaty sustainable strides — most notably Equinox who recently opened a dedicated eco-club in NYC — but my advice is, if possible, to stick to the great outdoors and use Mamma Nature as your personal trainer.

Since I’ve yet to encounter a gym that uses the people-power generated from all those ellipticals and treadmills to power itself aside from Seattle’s Green Microgym, I’d say the easiest way to burn a few gym-less calories is to ditch your car, apply an extra layer of natural deodorant, and bike or walk to work if you don’t already. It’s a win-win situation: you get in shape and do your part to curb C02 emissions. Plus, during all that solitary, self-propelled time-in-transit you can think deep thoughts about your big day (and how much you resent Jamie for being able to sample wedding cakes without gaining an ounce).

If all that walking and riding isn’t feasible, perhaps you can hire a personal trainer to come to you, the easiest machine-free way to slim down in the comfort of your own home. Since you live in Los Angeles, I don’t think finding a yogi who does house calls should be a problem at all.

OK, Lou, are you still stuck on the idea of joining a house o’ fitness? Since you’ve already got commitment on the brain, be sure to ask prospective gyms about what they are doing to lower their eco-impact, if anything, before you sign on. Are the showerheads in the locker room low-flow? How is the facility heated/cooled? Are there exercise options that don’t involve running or cycling in place on an electricity-guzzling machine?

Best of luck on your prenuptial fitness regimen and don’t sweat it if you aren’t a green adonis by the time you reach the big day. If I can offer one last piece of parting advice before you begin both your eco-fitness routine -- be it in the great outdoors, at home, or at a gym -- and your life with Jamie, it is this: Be sure to bring your own bottle.

Related on MNN: Green gyms pump up the Earth.

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Photo: julos/iStockphoto 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Is there such a thing as a green gym?
If Matt Hickman had his way, Mother Nature would be everyone's personal trainer -- but he still offers advice on how to find an eco-conscious gym.