In the mat room at Cass Community Social Services men and women who were once homeless make mud mats from old discarded tires gathered from landfills and vacant lots in Detroit.
Now, the non-profit organization is expanding its commitment to the homeless, and the environment, in a new and unique way.
Today was the grand opening of The Green Gym â€“ the nationâ€™s first workout facility for homeless men and women.
Rev. Faith Fowler, Executive Director of Cass, told us, â€œWe used mostly donated gym equipment â€“ weights, ping pong table, pool table, and treadmill and in addition to that, we bought 10 stationary bikes that generate electricity.
The electricity from the bikes goes back into the power grid and lowers the electric bill for the facility.
â€œIt really will make a dent in our carbon footprint and in our utility bills,â€ according to Reverend Fowler.
A single workout by an average person can create enough power to run four compact fluorescents for an hour.
But perhaps the most important benefit is to the clients.
â€œHomeless people have extra health care issues that are compounded by inactivity,â€ Rev. Fowler told us, â€œHeart disease, AIDS, high blood pressure, and diabetes in particular, so if we can help them stay in shape, then their whole health will improve and their quality of life will get better.â€
People like program graduate, Anthony, agree. â€œEvery chance I get, Iâ€™m going to be on the bike, every chance.â€
Until he came to Cass, Davell didnâ€™t have a place to live. A health club membership wasnâ€™t even a dream. So he relied on pushups & sit-ups to get the exercise he says is so important. â€œIt extends your living span, makes you look good, feel healthy.â€
Rev. Fowler agrees. It tones you up, youâ€™ll lose a few pound and youâ€™re going to feel more sure of yourself, better about yourself. Itâ€™s a natural.