Bike on the River: Cycle-Powered Gym Boat Glides Through Paris

Well, here’s one way to get some exercise and simultaneously enjoy views of a beautiful city without getting rained on or dealing with traffic.  Gliding along the surface of the Seine in Paris, past such landmarks as the Notre Dame Cathedral, ‘The Paris Navigating Gym’ gets most of its power from the humans operating the stationary bicycles inside. Supplemented by rooftop solar panels, the boat is designed to be a mobile exercise facility and relaxing tour of the city all at once, separated from the noise and chaos of the streets.


Architect Carlo Ratti collaborated with fitness manufacturing company Technogym, non-profit Terreform ONE and urban generation institute URBEM to develop the project. Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, which describes itself as ‘urban imagination and social innovation through design & science,’ Ratti aims to explore the potential of power generation through the movement of human bodies.


The boat itself is pretty cool, accommodating up to 45 people on the bikes and other fitness equipment made by Technogym. As they work out, they can keep track of how much energy they’re producing as well as their fitness progress. An inverter converts the pedal power into utility grade electricity, powering the electronic elements of the equipment and propelling the boat. Excess energy is fed into the grid.


The design of the boat is based on that of Bateaux Mouches, ferry boats for tourists that have dotted the Seine for nearly a century. The panoramic glass facades looking out onto the water sure beat the views of parking lots and televisions at most local gyms.