May 28, 2018

Story & photos by Veronica Perry

From serving our country to serving our community, Jose Avina rises to the challenge. His vision to bring reusable energy to a fitness center in our town has revolutionized the way our community comes together in the name of health.

Avina is the Chief Executive Officer of Sacramento Eco Fitness, which is the first human powered fitness facility in California. He is also a California State University, Sacramento graduate and a former US Marine. He’s combined his passion for health and fitness with his desire to create an eco-friendly gym in Sacramento.

“That’s the reason I came back,” Avina says. “I finished up with my time in the Marines, came back and this is where I started my career.”

Avina co-founded this business with a few of his college friends.

“We got together and started brainstorming this idea,” Avina says. “We brought a couple of guys on from the fraternity and from Sac State and it grew from there. We have a team of 12 people. We have personal trainers, the setting up and connection of all this electricity, people on the back end doing the marketing and communications side.”

For Avina it was a difficult process at first. He essentially started from scratch. Only having an idea of possibly opening a gym.

“I do not have a background in engineering,” Avina says. “I went through The US Small Business Administration. They set me up with a mentor. I told him I wanted to open a gym. He said ‘okay that’s fine but there are so many gyms out there, what’s going to make yours different?’”

Avina in that moment felt stuck when he was asked this question. After taking some time to ponder it, he found his answer while he was on the treadmill at the gym. Avina wondered to himself why isn’t this energy being harnessed.

“I started Googling it and found out that there was a gym out there that had tried this before but at that point the technology did not exist. So, I thought I would give it a shot now.”

The Sacramento Spotlight had the opportunity to speak with Avina about how Sacramento Eco Fitness was created, how it works and its impact on our city.

The Spotlight: How did you get started in this business?

Avina: We got started when I got back from the Marines and I was trying to find my next transition so I ended up opening up a gym.

Why a gym?

I was more passionate about the renewable energy aspect of it. The Enphase battery. That was my main reason for opening up a facility because of the possibilities on renewable energy.

Can you describe that?

The cycles that we have upstairs have inverters on them. So, what that does is it converts the kinetic, raw energy that you are producing into clean usable energy that we use and store here in the facility in our battery which we can then use to power the lights, TVs, charge the phones and everything else.  It contributes to powering the facility. We also have solar panels on the roof.

What does it do for the community?

We benefit the community by making individuals more eco-friendly. We start making residents aware on the little things they can do on a daily basis to conserve energy and working out at an eco-friendly facility help to reduce your carbon footprint but also the food that you eat, the clothes that you buy. Everything you consume, our day to day actions down to where the phone in your hand comes from all those little things contribute to reducing your carbon footprint. Once our clients start becoming more aware of these things, they tend to start tagging us in relation to certain issues. For example, if an article comes out and it has to do with climate change, they will tag us. Through awareness our clients become more involved.

Why fitness?

Fitness facilities are some of the largest consumers of energy. People spend a good amount of time at the gym on a treadmill or an elliptical and it ended up marrying perfectly. We needed people that would be on cycles and treadmills producing energy.

How long have you been in business?

I have been here for one year and five months we opened in December 2016. I went to school at Sac State and I received a degree in communication studies. Me and a couple other guys here are either graduates of Sac State or about to be graduates of Sac State and a lot of us are fraternity brothers so that’s how we all came together to work here.

Besides how you harness the energy, what sets you apart from the other fitness facilities?

We are dog friendly. There are boot camp classes every day at 6 am, Monday to Friday. Monday Wednesday Friday, we have an 11 o'clock class and a 6:15 on Tuesday and Thursday we have cycling classes and our boot camp in the evening is at 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm Monday through Friday. Those are different from TRX. I also have a class that is more Marine corps, boot camp style.

Where would we find you on an ideal Saturday in Sacramento?

You find me here of course, but I'd love to be on the river or Old Sac.

Sacramento Eco Fitness can be experienced at their L street location, the open gym is $35 per month the group classes are $65 per month.