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by Michael Shapiro | March 19, 2012

Remember Rocky IV, when Rocky trains to take on Soviet killing machine Ivan Drago? Our hero gets in fighting form by doing pull-ups in the woods and hauling dogsleds across the frozen tundra, while Drago takes full advantage of the high-tech Soviet training facilities that no doubt littered the Russian metropolises in the mid-'80s. Of course, Rocky whips himself into a stubborn piece of iron and ultimately defeats Dolph Lundgren and the threat of communism.
 
But times have changed since the mid-'80s; no longer must we shun technology to get in fighting shape. Take, for instance, a new pilot program at Element hotels: stationary bikes that can be used to recharge our electronic mobile gadgets.

Element is one of a handful of brands that focus on meeting the challenge of staying fit and healthy while on the road. Often, in the marketing from such wellness-focused brands, we're reminded about the importance of unplugging and unwinding, as well as working out. That's great, but in many cases finding the time to work out, much less unplug, can be difficult. But what if you had to work out in order to recharge your iPhone? I say cut the electricity in guest rooms on demand, just as an incentive to get on one of those bikes.
 
That may be taking it too far, but I do love this idea -- the acknowledgment that we can be practical and efficient (and environmentally responsible) while being healthy. According to sources at Element, despite the recent grand launch at Element Miami and photo op with Starwood CEO/cycling enthusiast Frits van Paasschen, the program will start small. They'll have one bike/generator at Element Miami and eventually add one to the bicycle lineup at Element Lexington in Boston. No word as yet as to whether Starwood's more upscale wellness-focused Westin chain will promote the same generators.
 
I think we need more hotel technology along these lines. Waking up an extra hour before that breakfast meeting to squeeze in a workout requires a lot of self-discipline. But if you know you're getting up to generate the electricity to power your phone all day? Well, that's the added feel-good kick in the pajamas some of us need to get out of bed.