Honolulu Fitness flexes its energy-saving muscles

by Robert Yang | July 12, 2021

It’s been a hard slog for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that were eventually able to reopen knew that “business as usual” wasn’t going to cut it. One local gym found ways to adapt to the situation to ensure its survival.

Honolulu Fitness is a neighborhood gym located in Aina Haina Shopping Center. “Our members are like family to us, so we made a lot of changes to make sure our members are safe when they come here,” said Nestor Calucag, owner of Honolulu Fitness. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, members are required to wear a face covering and socially distance themselves. One thing you’ll notice when you walk in is a cart loaded with disinfectant sprays and stacks of towels. There’s enough supply for every member that walks in! Members wipe down the equipment before and after each use.

Honolulu Fitness grappled with pandemic-related woes just like any other business. Gym use decreased while membership cancellations increased despite Nestor implementing stringent safety protocols. He had to find other ways to save his business and looked toward lowering his operational costs — starting with his electric bill.

He contacted our Customer Business Management Services (CBMS) team to perform an energy assessment on his gym. As a gym user myself, I wanted to share the information uncovered from this audit to help other Hawaii gyms if they are still struggling due to the pandemic.

CBMS installed Watt IQ energy monitoring devices to Honolulu Fitness’ electronic equipment. After weeks of monitoring energy usage, the team discovered that Honolulu Fitness used the same amount no matter what time of the day since the gym is open 24/7. All members are given a key fob to enter when there are no employees. A few members workout in the middle of the night or early mornings. There could be zero members and employees in the gym, but the lights, air conditioner, TVs and exercise equipment would remain on.

CBMS informed Nestor that it would be best to turn off as many of his devices as possible when there is no one present. With this piece of information, Nestor implemented a new rule for his members. They were instructed to turn off the TVs, treadmills and elliptical machines when they were not in use. He also installed infrared security cameras and connected them to his phone. If the cameras detected no members at night or in the early mornings when there were no employees, it would send a signal to Nestor’s phone. An app on his phone would then shut off the lights and air conditioner. This allows Nestor to save energy while sleeping! The technology also does the opposite as well, turning on everything when people are detected inside the gym.

I was surprised to see Honolulu Fitness members follow the new rule to a tee. I observed members squat down in front of the treadmill, lift the panel up and press the power switch. That tiny action, in addition to the security cameras’ infrared technology, will help Nestor save hundreds of dollars on his utility bill each year. “A lot of members supported these changes because they enjoy coming here. People can come when it’s convenient for them and never have to wait to use any of the equipment. That’s something they want to continue,” Nestor said. Fortunately, those savings can be reallocated to other resources to better serve Honolulu Fitness’ loyal members.

I’m happy that our CBMS team was able to help Honolulu Fitness — and that the gym’s staff and customers have adapted to new procedures to ensure the business not only survives but thrives. It always amazes me how communities large and small come together to support local businesses like Honolulu Fitness. I’d encourage other businesses to also flex their energy-saving muscles.

Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.

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