Technogym's Nerio Alessandri on emotional experiences in fitness

Nerio Alessandri, founder and president of Technogym, has built a global fitness empire with wellness at its core. The entrepreneur tells Amanda Pauley why creating an emotional experience for clients is key to the future success of spa and fitness operations

With more people adopting a lifestyle that focuses on a 360-degree approach to physical and mental wellbeing, wellness is evolving into something larger than it once was. As well as eating the right foods, relaxation via social activities and working on a positive mental attitude, physical activity is playing a big part in the wellness puzzle. One brand that has combined fitness and wellness successfully in its offering is Italian equipment brand Technogym. Founded by its president Nerio Alessandri in 1983, the company provides gym equipment, services, content and programmes to more than 80,000 commercial locations worldwide, including health centres, spas and luxury hotels. In the past 35 years, it has helped transform the hedonistic concept of fitness into a lifestyle, resulting in Technogym being known globally as a wellness company.

“The fitness industry is evolving; it’s having great consumer momentum. More people are aware of the benefits of physical exercise, which is fuelling the growth. It’s great news for all operators in the wellness industry – spa, fitness, sport or hospitality,” says Alessandri. But how can spas tap into the fitness boom and merge it into their offering, complementing the treatments and facilities they already have? Alessandri says personalisation is key, tailoring every aspect of the customer service to the client, making it truly bespoke. “You need to offer not only products but solutions for different communities. Today, people are tapping into fitness for different reasons – to lose weight, increase general wellness, for greater flexibility or to train for sport performance,” he says. “The key is creating vertical solutions that can serve everyone, conveying quality while offering an engaging experience.”

Emotional experiences

Alessandri suggests looking at your client base, examining their needs and assessing your facilities, seeing if the design, architecture, equipment and technology in your spa or fitness centre gives this “emotional experience” – the thing that will make customers loyal. “People want compelling experiences when they workout; something that appeals to their passions,” he adds. “So, you can go from something very aspirational and glamorous in terms of design, to something very technical in terms of sports performance, but all need to be connectivity-led.”

Technogym’s Mywellness digital platform offers end-users in spas, hotels and health centres personalised training activities. It works by pulling clients’ data together to create a console that will help them with their sporting, fitness and health goals. “Mywellness offers clients a sort of mobile experience, pulling all their personalised training programmes and performance data together in one place, as well as the entertainment they like, such as their favourite video content and social media platforms,” explains Alessandri. “It’s completely personalised to you – your programmes, passions and data. It merges beautifully designed Italian equipment with connectivity.” Another reason why Technogym is an innovator in the fitness market is its wellness vision. Its 37-acre, eco-sustainable headquarters in Cesena, Italy, is seen as a wellness campus. “The Technogym Village has been designed and conceived to inspire the industry, to not only showcase our technology but inspire operators in creating new models and solutions,” says Alessandri.

Workplace wellness

This is one of the reasons the company’s headquarters have been chosen as the location for the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) 2018. Technogym’s focus on workplace wellness was another. On campus, employees have free access to educational wellness activities, a restaurant that serves fresh food with low fat content and a garden equipped for staff to do daily physical activity. The meeting rooms also have wellness balls instead of chairs, helping staff maintain the right posture and balance for their abdominals and lower backs.

“The gym is the hub of the building and central to our programme, but then we have spread wellness all over the workplace. It’s part of our corporate social responsibility – to be a business that’s good for others,” says Alessandri. Partnering with the GWS is also an opportunity to showcase Technogym’s digital innovation, equipment and wellness vision, says Alessandri: “The GWS is recognised all over the world as one of the key events on the wellness and lifestyle stage. It’s attracting important opinion leaders and decision makers in the industry to our door.” With more studies proving the link between a state of wellbeing and happiness, the focus on living a life that encompasses all factors of wellness is growing. A lot can be learned from Technogym, which is now focusing on coaching its teams to become wellness ambassadors around the world, as well as incorporating design and digital even further into its innovations.

Technogym's headquarters in Cesena, Italy is the location of the 2018 Global Wellness Summit. Recently released data at the summit shows the global wellness economy is now worth $4.2 trillion.