If you ever been to a gym, any gym, it’s likely you’ve seen them. As Italian fitness equipment maker Technogym celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Founder and President Nerio Alessandri looks back at its humble beginnings, from the first equipment he created in his garage in 1983, to how he turned it into a global fitness behemoth now available in more than 100 countries.
The weekend tabloid! catches up with him to talk legacies, innovation and how he’s seen fitness evolve over the years.
You created your first equipment in 1983 in your own garage. From your perspective, how has the health and wellness industry evolved over the years?
There has been a true revolution since the early stages of the industry. In the 1980s the world was dominated by a fitness culture of muscles and appearance and 20 years ago we launched the concept of “Wellness”, an Italian lifestyle with roots that lie in the 2,000 year old ancient Roman philosophy of “Mens sana in corpore sano”.
Wellness is the balance between the body, mind and spirit, and is achieved through regular physical exercise, a healthy diet and a positive mental attitude.
Wellness allows us to improve our quality of life, feel good about ourselves and others, have more energy and creativity at work and above all live better and longer.
Through wellness, we have contributed to transforming a business based on hedonism into a sector with a high social impact: from simply appearing well to responsibly feeling well, from the involvement of a tight circle of sportsmen in perfect physical shape to the possibility to involve the whole community: men and women, young people, adults and children, the elderly, the healthy, the sick and the disabled.
Has technology affected your business positively or negatively?
Technology has always been a relevant part of our business, in fact the name Technogym is a mix of the words technology and gymnastics.
Lately technology has become a more and more relevant part of our everyday life so I believe that the best strategy is to integrate it as part of the offer and develop solutions for the customer able to satisfy the need to be “always connected”.
How would you say Technogym has performed in the UAE as a business?
The UAE market is very relevant for us, we are very present in all our business segments, from sport and fitness clubs to hospitality but also in the medical and rehabilitations centres.
We have been working in the Emirates for 15 years now, at first with a distributor and now with a direct branch.
In addition to this, the UAE is the land of some of our best clients and internationally renowned outstanding references in the hôtellerie and sports club fields.
Has there been a growth in individual buyers as opposed to gyms and companies buying in bulk?
Technogym at first was born as a business to business company and we used to have a commercial approach directed to the operators.
In the last few years, there has been an ever-increasing understanding about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity so people are training also at home or in the office ... we are happy to create and offer solutions also for end users.
You recently partnered with furniture designer Antonio Citterio for your Personal line? Why?
Design plays a very relevant role in wellness; harmony and beauty are always far more attractive to people than basic functionality.
For example, if you think about the 1980s and the very basic fitness equipment available, gyms were a place just for the true sports addicts — the design appeared complicated and put people off going.
Today however, thanks to design, attention to detail and ease-of-use, gyms are for everybody.
I decided to work with Antonio Citterio because I was looking for an Italian designer who could interpret the wellness philosophy and bring it to the design of our products.
This cooperation has taken to the development of wonderful Personal line and to the Technogym Village project, our new HQ in Cesena we inaugurated last year and has now become the global reference point for the promotion of a wellness lifestyle.
How important is pricing to your company?
Our positioning is on a premium market and we are the only company able to provide a total wellness solution made of not only equipment but also, apps, devices and contents, interior design services, training and education programmes, marketing support for our clients, a strong after sales service.
Before developing your products, what are the questions you ask yourself?
Research and innovation have always represented the key values behind the development of products and services. We work always keeping in mind the need of the end-user.
Every single detail is important in offering the best experience, this is why we have a team of more than 200 people made of industrial designers, engineers, physiotherapists and doctors that work every day in creating the wellness product of the future.
How many hours a day do you spend at the gym?
I train thrice a week in the very early morning, but wellness is a fundamental aspect of my life so I created a gym inside my home to have my wellness equipment available when I have more time to exercise.
In my office I also sit on a wellness ball instead of a chair. This helps to keep the correct posture, improve muscular flexibility and tone up abdominal and legs while you’re working on your computer.
What future do you see for your company?
We have recently launched a new concept that will represent a new era in the world of fitness and wellness. It’s called “Wellness on the Go”, a revolutionary personalised wellness experience allowing users to access their training programmes, training data, web bookmarks, apps and content anywhere in the world, at any time.
People lifestyle is changing and we wanted to create a new solution through which people can be connected to their world and their favourite contents while training.
Each Technogym product is designed to offer a customised “Wellness on the Go” experience, allowing users to log in and connect to their training programme on smartphone, tablet, mywellness key, smart TV or PC.