Founder and CEO of Technogym, Nerio Alessandri talks about the idea that kick-started his wellness empire and why looking forward is the secret to success with Emirates Man.

What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

Usually, the first part of my day is dedicated to wellness. I like to work out early in the morning, this energizes me for the whole day. I do it both in my home gym and at our beautiful Wellness Center at the Technogym Village, where I can test the new products and also meet colleagues.

How do you maintain your fitness and wellness routine when traveling?

In the past, this was a problem, but today digital technology makes it very easy to connect to my personal training program anytime and anywhere. When I travel, I always choose Technogym-equipped hotels… I’m lucky because Technogym is the brand of preference of more than 18,000 top hotels in the world. Then there’s Technogym App, our new app, which allows me to connect to my personalized workout program at any time and access it through Technogym equipment when present or use it for bodyweight workouts if there’s no equipment available.

You founded the company at age 22 from your father’s garage and have since built a global fitness empire. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur and what does it take to make this a success?

Being an entrepreneur has always been my dream. I first tried the fashion industry, then I realized that there was a lot of potential in the fitness and wellness sector, the potential to get the world moving again. We are born to move, our ancestors needed to walk over 30 kilometers a day for their daily needs while today technological progress made us sedentary, and on average we move for less than one kilometer a day, so there is a big gap to fill and consequently also a big opportunity. Starting from this idea, Technogym was born as the combination of my two skills, the one for technology and the one for sports.

Do you feel more drawn to the creative or commercial sides of the business and how do they go hand in hand?

Being a designer, I definitely feel more drawn to the creative side of the business. I believe that focusing on creating unique products and experiences is the best way to surprise and engage customers and to have a successful commercial outcome. The motto I share almost every day with my team is “when it works is obsolete” – it means that when a product or a project is at the peak of its success, it is the right time to change and innovate. If you wait until it starts declining, it will be too late to successfully change it.

What style of leadership have you adopted at Technogym?

I believe that people and their creativity are the most strategic assets for a company. So, my goal is to create within the company a culture of continuous improvement and excellence, shared by all team members, each one for its specific role. This will allow the company to grow and thrive, even without my leadership, thanks to its strong managerial culture.

Technogym Nerio Alessandri

“My goal is to create within the company a culture of continuous improvement and excellence.”

What have been the biggest challenges to date and how did you overcome them?

I started from nothing, from a garage, with a dream but no financial resources. Consequently, the biggest difficulty, especially in the beginning when we were not a famous brand and did not have any kind of credibility, was to find the funds to invest and grow the company. But the dream was so strong that we were able to overcome this difficulty through continuous innovation, by creating products that were so unique and so aspirational for customers. The demand for our products was so high that our customers were accepting to pay for them prior to delivery. So, we found a way, through innovation and the power of ideas, to self-finance ourselves and create a company without having any money available.

How important is the Middle East region for Technogym and do you have specific equipment that is most popular?

The Middle East is a crucial region for Technogym; we have a structured presence in all countries of the region with our Technogym Emirates Hub in Dubai, which is not just a sales office but includes our flagship consumer retail store, our showroom, our training center for operators and our offices. Besides selling our products and digital solutions, the goal of our local presence is to be able to support local stakeholders (hospitality, real estate developer, fitness, sports and health), in creating unique solutions that can change people’s lifestyles.

How do you support those just starting their fitness journey to understand how to use the equipment?

Thirty years ago, in a world dominated by the stereotype of bodybuilding and fitness, we introduced a new concept called wellness. If fitness is just functional and it means to look good, wellness is instead a holistic lifestyle and means to feeling good. So, fitness calls on a niche of enthusiasts, of very fit people, while wellness calls on everyone: young ones, elderly, athletes, and individuals with physical problems. Hence, wellness has always guided our innovation strategy. We have the industry’s widest product range, from high-performance products for Olympic athletes to solutions dedicated to the elderly or beginners. Moreover, thanks to our digital ecosystem, we are able to personalize the training experience according to each individual’s level, goals and needs.

Having a long-standing career, how do you stay relevant to technological advancements and keep abreast of fitness trends?

Technogym has always innovated and anticipated trends. Starting from an equipment-oriented company, in 1996 we launched the industry’s first wearable device called Mywellness Key, in 2007 the first online equipment, in 2012 the industry’s first cloud platform and in recent years the first on-demand workout platform available on both the equipment and our app. So certainly, Technogym has proven over the years to be a company ahead of time, and the future will be based on artificial intelligence that will personalize and adapt training to every single individual, need, passion and aspiration, from fitness to sport and health.

Have you had any mentors in your life and if so, what knowledge did they impart?

My main mentors were my parents who were very simple people, who had not studied and had no managerial skills but taught me true values such as transparency, humility and honesty. When it comes to business, I am extremely curious and always try to challenge myself and learn from every interaction with our clients, team members, consultants and people who work with us. So, I always try to take every opportunity to listen and learn. Above all, I give thanks for criticism and feedback, which should not be seen as a nuisance, but as a time for questioning and improvement.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

It is psychologically very difficult for me to answer this question because I am not used to looking back but only forward. I do not have any major regrets, as I believe in life, I have been very lucky. However, my approach is that of an athlete, who doesn’t sit back and spend too much time celebrating past records, but rather is focused on new challenges and new goals, thus on the future.

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