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Human-powered gym boat on River Seine harnesses energy from passenger workouts

By Kim Megson    30 Nov 2016
The boat – designed in response to a public call for fitness and wellness projects in Paris – is 20-metres long and can host up to 45 people / CRA
It’s fascinating to see how the energy generated by a workout at the gym can actually help to propel a boat. It provides one with a tangible experience of what lies behind the often abstract notion of ‘electric power’
– Carlo Ratti

Parisian gym-goers could soon be powering scenic boat trips along the River Seine on a fitness vessel that harnesses energy from passengers’ workouts.

The Paris Navigating Gym is the latest innovation from architects and researchers Carlo Ratti Associati. They have partnered with non-profit design group Terreform ONE, urban regeneration institute URBEM and fitness firm Technogym to develop the project.

The boat – which has been designed in response to a public call for forward-thinking fitness and wellness projects in the French capital – is 20-metres long and can host up to 45 people. In summer it will have an open top, while in the colder months it can be encased in transparent glass.

The vessel’s fitness area features Technogym’s ARTIS machines – a special type of sports equipment that harnesses human energy and makes it available for further use. By doing exercise on the bikes and cross trainers, guests can power the boat. Human-powered energy will be supplemented by renewables, such as photovoltaic cells on the gym roof.

The vessel will make several stops along the river, picking up passengers wanting to join the workout, and can be used for evening parties. Augmented-reality screens installed inside will show guests both the quantity of energy sourced from the workout, and data about the Seine’s environmental conditions, tracked in real time by sensors.

"The Paris Navigating Gym investigates the potential of harnessing human power,” said Carlo Ratti, founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati and a director at the MIT Senseable City Lab research team in Boston. “It’s fascinating to see how the energy generated by a workout at the gym can actually help to propel a boat. It provides one with a tangible experience of what lies behind the often abstract notion of ‘electric power’.”

The design pays tribute to the symbolic Bateaux Mouches, the traditional ferry-boats that have been carrying tourists on the Seine since the early 20th century.

A preliminary concept for a “River Gym” was initially developed by Terreform ONE in 2008, for use in New York City. The Paris Navigating Gym evolves that proposal, with feasibility boosted due to analysis undertaken by URBEM and urban strategists UR Lab. According to initial studies, the project can be implemented in less than 18 months, including design, construction, and testing, before starting its cruises.

Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of Terreform One, said: “The Paris Navigating Gym brings our original idea to the next level, turning it into a doable project whose potential can have a positive impact both in term of quality of life and public enjoyment of our cities.”

Fitness, transport and design are increasingly being integrated in innovative new ways. Earlier this year, boutique London fitness studio 1Rebel entered talks with Transport for London (TfL) and coach companies about its plans for specially-adapted buses offering 45-minute group cycling classes as they ferry commuters into London.

Augmented-reality screens installed inside will show guests both the quantity of energy sourced from their workout / CRA
According to initial studies, the project can be implemented in less than 18 months, including design, construction, and testing / CRA
Human-powered gym  River Seine  Paris  TechnoGym  Carlo Ratti  fitness  wellness  design 
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