My Italian Link met with Technogym’s CEO and founder Nerio Alessandri. An opportunity to learn more about the world leader in wellness and fitness equipment!
• How exactly was Technogym started?
I was a young industrial designer very passionate about sports. In the 1980s I was a member of a local gym in my hometown, Cesena, and I noticed that gyms lacked technology and design, and only offered very basic tools. I saw an innovation opportunity to create something safer and easier to use, so I designed and built my first machine during my free time in the evenings and weekends. I designed and built the first equipment with my own hands in my garage, because I had the vision of doing something that would help people live better lives. The first machine was a great success, and the gym I sold it to ordered a complete line, so Technogym went from being a hobby to a full time business.
• What is Wellness and why is the concept important to you?
I believe that 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. The reason why it is so important is because Wellness represents a great social opportunity for everyone – for governments to reduce health service costs, for companies to stimulate their members to be more creative and productive and for all citizens to improve their health and daily lifestyle.
• Does the concept of Wellness reflect an Italian way of life?
Yes, Wellness is inspired by the philosophy of ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ (which, loosely translated, means ‘A healthy mind makes a healthy body.’), which originated two thousand years ago in Rome.
• What does successfully running a company like Technogym take?
I believe the most important factors are the passionate attention to product, innovation and quality – these are always the first priority for me and my team. Since the very early stages of the company, research and innovation have represented the key values behind the development of products, services and solutions. We always keep 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 150 people made of industrial designers, engineers, physiotherapists and doctors that work every day to create the wellness products and solutions of the future. Today 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, and a strong after sales service.
• What’s the mission of the Wellness Foundation?
The Wellness Foundation is a non-profit organisation I founded in 2003. It cooperates with institutions, schools, universities, research centres, and any private and public body to promote better health through prevention and positive lifestyle behaviours. A commitment that has inspired projects such as ‘Gioca Wellness’ (Play Wellness) to fight childhood obesity through physical activity and ‘Muoviti che ti fa bene’ (It’s Good to Move), a public outdoor physical activity programme involving the use of public green spaces. The Wellness Foundation also promotes the ‘Wellness Valley’ project.
The idea was to develop a plan in the Romagna area (the eastern part on the coast of the Emilia-Romagna region) to create the first district in the world for quality of life. We have proposed that all stakeholders in Romagna (companies, public administrations, tourism operators, schools, universities and the public health system) work together to increase people’s health, create more and more successful and innovative products and services, attract qualified human resources, raise the environmental quality standards, and to attract more and more people searching for a wellness experience. After 20 years, over 40 best practices have been developed, from Technogym becoming the world’s leader in the wellness technology, to food companies who specialise in bio and organic food, to tourist operators selling sports holidays packages, to public administration which promotes physical activity to create a healthy population.
• Technogym is now established in South Africa. What plans do you have for this market?
South Africa is a very relevant market for us and it is the land of some of our best clients and outstanding references for all our business segments, from sport and fitness clubs to corporates, hospitality but also in the medical field. We have a very long history of presence there thanks to the cooperation with our local exclusive distributor PentaSystem managed by the Payne brothers. In the future, we are working to consolidate our presence and strengthen our capability to deliver our complete wellness solution, which includes our great design products, services and digital contents.
Check out our article Technogym, the world’s wellness empire