I want to open a gym. I’ll call it the Habitat gym. But instead of rowing machines, treadmills and weights, my gym will have shovels, hammers and hoes. Members will get fit by growing food for the local food bank, or by building low-cost housing or community amenities.
Trainers will match the job to the member—Want to work on your cardiovascular fitness? You’ll fetch tools and materials for the work crews, running back and forth from shed to building site or garden. Keen on weight training? You’ll be mixing cement or turning soil. Just want some gentle stretching and strengthening? You can weed or paint.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could capture all the human energy wasted every year at the gym and funnel it into meaningful projects that help others? Not only would people stay fit, they might be more likely to stick with their exercise regime if they know that what they are doing is meaningful and not just drudgery, if at the end of a year long gym membership, they count their success not just in pounds shed or muscle mass gained, but also in people fed and housed. If all that energy expended at the gym were harnessed for good, think what we could accomplish!