SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Students and staff at Sacramento State are doing more than just shaping up when they step on some exercise machines — they’re helping power the campus.

If you can believe it, every step on some special elliptical machines at the university are being converted into energy, and then being sent over to the school’s electrical grid — helping power the entire campus.

“It’s very good to know I’m actually doing something while I’m sweating,” student Sienna Wheeler said.

It’s not just about staying fit anymore at The Well on school’s campus; students are sweating it out to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The more you challenge yourself and the higher intensity, the more electricity you’re going to produce,” said Kate Costelo, Assistant Director of The Well.

The university recently started a program through SMUD, which hooked up 19 elliptical machines in the gym to the campus power grid.

Each student can track how much energy he or she is putting out simply by logging into the system.

“I was working out and kinda watching the bulb so it’s pretty neat,” said Gina Hagh.

A bulb hanging in front of the exercise equipment lights up brighter the harder students work.

“For one person, a typical 30 minute workout is equivalent to powering 10 minutes of television and 15 minutes of powering a ceiling fan,” said Costelo.

Combined together, the gym goers can be pretty powerful.

“On a typical day we average 0.9 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to about three hours of television, 19 hours of a computer laptop, or four and a half hours of a ceiling fan,” said Costelo.

“I feel like it’s your own mini motivation. You’re like ‘OK, cool, I’m gonna turn the light on and see how bright I can make it and for how long,’ ” said Hagh.

The university also hopes it motivates students to be more aware of the ways they can help the environment, one step at a time.

“Every time I come now, I’m gonna make sure to log in so I can keep contributing,” said PERSON.

It’s still a pretty new idea but in the four months since it was launched, they accumulated 192 kilowatt hours, which can power a home for more than two days.

Thirty other universities in the country have similar programs in place, but Sacramento State is only the third California school to receive the program.

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