5 ways to make your fitness routine more sustainable

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You’ve streamlined your groceries and carefully assessed the contents of your beauty shelf - now it’s time to make sure your fitness routine matches up…

Whether you’re into lifting weights, HIIT training or spinning amidst multicoloured flashing lights, you work out to reap the amazing benefits for your physical and mental health. 

Yet have you ever stopped to think about the wider impact of your training?

We are, of course, talking about the carbon footprint of your fitness. 

While your food, fashion and beauty routines have all undergone a green makeover recently (goodbye, vegetables wrapped in plastic and single-use cotton pads), chances are your regular exercise routine might have slipped under your eco-radar. 

Perhaps that’s because fitting a workout into your busy day already feels like enough of an accomplishment, or maybe it’s never even entered your consciousness. 

But sustainable fitness doesn’t have to be complicated, especially since there are a number of simple swaps you can make to your routine that will have a hugely beneficial impact on the environment – and could boost your motivation too.

Here are five of our favourites… 

1. Switch your gym

Where you train can have a big impact on the environment. 

Unsurprisingly, gyms are a major culprit for CO2 emissions, from the vending machines full of plastic bottles, down to the energy-guzzling lighting, fans and machines that we rely on to power our workouts.

There are spaces, however, that are developing an eco-friendly approach. Take Terra Hale, a boutique fitness company and London’s first human-powered gym. 

The premise, as the name suggests, is simple: rather than rely on unsustainable energy sources, the gym is powered by its members, collecting the watts you expend during spinning, running and training to power the studio (with any excess power goes back into the Grid – no waste here, thank you very much). 

For those who need some extra motivation to work out, Rumble Gym in Dalston, an environmentally-conscious boutique space, plants a tree every time you turn up.

2. Get the right activewear

Traditional workout clothes tend to be made from synthetic fibers, like polyester or spandex. 

While these materials are great to train in, they aren’t biodegradable and frequently need replacing – not so great for the planet. 

Instead, look for clothing made from the Tencel™ brand, an innovative, sustainable fiber that’s kinder to the environment while keeping your body cool and dry during your workout.

Not only are Tencel-branded fibers made via an environmentally responsible closed loop production process, but the fibers themselves originate from sustainably sourced raw wood, which means that they’re compostable, biodegradable, and can fully revert back to nature. 

This crop top from American brand Vyayama is the perfect example of sustainable and functional, thanks to the skin-friendly Tencel fibers that are breathable, movable and naturally wick moisture away from the body

3. Keep warm responsibly

There’s a sound reason we do warm-ups: exercising when your muscles are cold can cause strain or injury. But what we wear to keep warm counts, too. 

If you’re working out from home, try this temperature-regulating sweatshirt from Athleta while you go through some blood-pumping stretches. 

Not only will the super-soft Tencel fibers eliminate the urge to put the central heating on, but the eco-friendly material is also made sustainably with minimal water usage.

Complete the outfit with these Vyayama leggings, perfect for keeping you warm during winter runs, thanks to the skin-friendly Tencel fibers that naturally wicks moisture away from the body.

4. Donate to charity

If you signed up to a 10k, half marathon or full 26.2 miler, you’ll have been disappointed at the cancellations of races and sponsorships this year. 

That doesn’t mean that charity runs need to stop completely, though. Instead, use an app like Charity Miles to track your training and donate money for every mile. 

There are plenty of worthy environmentally-focused charities to support, including WWF and The Nature Conservancy, but the best bit is that you don’t need to badger your mum for sponsorship, as corporate partners donate money for your hard work.

All you have to do is start the activity on the app, carry your phone while you clock the miles, and watch the money go to a green cause. 

5. Remember the rest of your kit

Your workout gear consists of more than the clothes you wear, so consider your equipment, too – be it your yoga mat, water bottle or resistance bands

When it comes to mats, natural, sustainable materials are best for both the environment and yourself. 

Jade Yoga uses natural rubber, a renewable resource, to make its mats, and they’re also completely free from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other synthetic fibers. Bonus: the brand plants a tree for every mat sold – with over two million planted so far. 

As for your water bottle, it goes without saying that anything made from single-use plastic should be avoided. But, again, you should also check that the reusable bottle you buy is made from sustainable materials, just like eplanita’s bamboo bottles

We also love Shreddy for vegan, latex-free and sustainable cotton resistance bands that won’t snap, to really reduce waste. 

Want to make your workout gear a little kinder to the planet? Look for pieces made from Tencel fibers. Using cellulosic fibers of botanic origin, Tencel fibers keep your body pleasantly cool and dry with their natural comfort and versatility, giving you freedom to move with confidence. Find out more here.