Products, apps, digital contents: how Technogym revolutionizes your workout

Simon Usborne

With the launch of Technogym LiveTechnogym has completed its evolution as a global platform for digital content and equipment as advanced as any device from a Silicon Valley R&D lab.
In a first for the fitness industry, the 50 million people connected to Technogym around the world will now be able to stream training experiences live or on demand to Technogym’s new equipment and their own devices at their gym, home and on the go.

Technogym users and operators now coexist in a single ecosystem where training and wellness can be managed in the cloud and any device or piece of gym equipment can be instantly personalised.

It is an evolution that began in 1983, which has gone down in history as a landmark year in the creation of the digital age. With the Lisa computer, Apple launched the personal computer as we still know it. The CD-Rom was about to transform storage and entertainment. Motorola launched the first commercially available mobile phone. And the world adopted a new protocol for the “network of networks” that would become the Internet.

For a young Italian in his parents’ garage in Cesena, these shockwaves weren’t on the radar - at least not yet. At the start of his journey, Nerio Alessandri was focussed on one thing: making the best and most technologically advanced gym equipment. Because, beyond the labs of the future tech giants, a fitness revolution was also underway.

The bodybuilding boom of the 1970s had hit the mainstream. A jogging craze was still sweeping the world, meanwhile, and fitness videos featuring stars like Jane Fonda helped to redefine exercise as an aspirational pursuit.

Alessandri, an industrial designer by training who first wanted to go into high fashion, was poised to capitalise on the boom with his new company, Technogym. He sold his first machine - the Hack Squat - to a local gym in Cesena. His wife Stefania Migani wore Fonda-inspired training gear in early publicity shots as Nerio set out to shake up fitness and breathe new, young energy into Italian industry.

That 22-year-old entrepreneur and designer could barely have dreamed the multiple and complete ways the digital revolution would go on to transform daily life. Nor could he have anticipated where the fitness and wellness industry would go - or that Technogym would play a vital role in shaping it.
But, more than that, decades before the rise of the new tech giants of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, Alessandri could not have dared to dream that, almost 40 years after he launched a company from a Cesena garage, it would stand at the forefront of both revolutions.

Beyond the labs of the future tech giants, a fitness revolution was also underway

Yet the key to that success is a guiding principle that has remained at the core of the business - to push and define what was possible rather than follow it. As he said at the launch of Technogym Live last month: “Innovation is Technogym’s DNA.”
After a rapid rise to prominence in the 1980s, Technogym introduced the concept of wellness decades before it became an industry buzzword. Exercise would become a virtue of the mind as well as body. And technological innovation - as well as the best of Italian design - was going to drive that shift.
In 1990, Technogym invented the Constant Pulse Rate system to automatically adjust the intensity of a workout. The Wellness System in 1996 gave users the TGS key, allowing them to activate equipment and keep track of their fitness data long before wearable digital devices achieved ubiquity.
A decade later, Technogym became the first company to incorporate TV screens into fitness equipment and then - in 2007 - it launched the first gym equipment with online connectivity, paving the way for what followed across the industry.

But it is in the past decade that the fitness industry has run, pedalled, rowed and lifted itself into a truly digital space. During this wider transformation towards a sharing, subscription economy, established giants in both technology and fitness have been compelled to raise their game amid the rapid rise of disruptive startups and an Instagram culture that has thrown wellness deep into the mainstream.
Technogym has kept up with that breakneck change, which has been particularly fierce at the premium end of the market. It continues to lead the revolution. In 2012, it launched the mywellness cloud - the first of its kind to allow users to access their profile and training programmes anywhere, connecting operators and customers in new ways via web and mobile.
Mywellness turned Alessandri’s founding principle into a digital ecosystem, blurring the boundaries between equipment and content. Via Technogym Live, users can now look up from their machines as they join fitness classes around the world, taking the personalised approach to a new level.

That garage in Cesena is now a giant tech campus buzzing with innovation - the “new garage, for the new era”, as Alessandri has described it. Yet Alessandri has managed to retain the founding spirit of technologically-driven wellness that he first identified, in 1983, when a digital revolution was only a seed waiting to take root.

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