Chances are if you’re a regular gym-goer, you have at some point experienced using Technogymequipment. The gym that I regularly train at is fully kitted out in their iconic grey and yellow products, and while I have always appreciated that the equipment is pretty advanced, in years of sweaty workouts it had never crossed my mind what might go on behind-the-scenes of the cables, plates and treadmill belts. I certainly didn’t expect to find what I did when I got a privileged peek into Technogym's HQ in Cesena, Italy; a campus to rival Google’s, full of healthy, happy employees and complete with a fitness lover’s playground. I learnt that just like the business they do, their vision for wellness is on a global scale.
A Design Destination
The stunning 150,000m² Technogym Village, opened in 2012, was designed by Antonio Citterio, Patricia Viel and Partners, one of Italy’s most internationally renowned architecture studios and is inspired by the concept of eco-sustainability. The world’s first wellness campus is home to the T-Factory, science and R&D facilities, university and conference centre, and the zero-miles T-Restaurant, as well as an avant-garde gym; a showroom slash job-perk.
Technogym Product Design
Perhaps the most obvious thing to talk about is Technogym's state-of-the-art fitness equipment. After all, as a world leading supplier and six-time official supplier of the Olympic Games, it's what they're best known for. The design of Technogym's equipment has come a long way since the founder, Nerio Alessandri (who I had the delight of meeting), developed the Hack Squat, Technogym's first ever piece of equipment, in his garage, aged 22. Since then, several international prizes have been awarded to the company, including the prestigious Red Dot Design Award.
Design is crucial to Alessandri's vision for the company, which is to get the world moving. While Technogym's numerous equipment ranges each have different purposes and aesthetics, the majority of their products appear a world away from the metal-on-metal contraptions typical of gyms when the company was founded. The quintessentially Italian, sleek design of Technogym’s equipment aims to make them easy to use, safe, comfortable, and overall appealing to gym users. Using design, Technogym aims to make exercising less intimidating to the general population, in a bid to get the world moving more.
Of course, we wouldn't have truly embraced the wellness experience without being put through our paces with some of Technogym’s trainers, allowing us to try out the vast array of equipment at our disposal.
Thankfully, after a 4am alarm-call and a very early flight, our first workout at the Technogym Village was an energising and reviving round of outdoor circuit training on the T-Lake using Technogym's functional training line, ARKE.
As if such a beautiful location and world-class fitness suite wasn't enough, there are many other benefits to being an employee of The Wellness Company; mutual benefits to both the employees and the company, in fact. Technogym invests a lot in the wellness of their staff, believing that every $1 invested creates a return of between $2-$20 in productivity. Technogym employees benefit from annual medical screenings in the T-Wellness Centre and extended lunch breaks that mean they have the opportunity to get active (a game of basketball on the Technogym courts, anyone?) and enjoy a nourishing meal. The offices at Technogym HQ are furnished with Wellness Balls to promote 'Active Sitting', and break stations are equipped with vending machines packed with healthy snacks and bikes to encourage even just 10 minutes of activity a day. However, it sounds like the staff don't need much encouraging as I hear that the employees can get quite competitive trying to out-'MOVE' each other.
Note: 'MOVES' are Technogym's unit of activity measurement - more info here.
I absolutely love the concept of corporate wellness and would love to see it applied more widely across businesses in the UK. As the workplace is where people spend most of their time, it seems the ideal place to implement strategies to improve wellbeing.
As I mentioned, staff are encouraged to eat well, to maintain good health and to keep them alert and efficient throughout the day. All meals are balanced, made with locally-sourced ingredients, including organic options, and I can attest to the fact that they are also completely delicious. The Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid covering an entire wall serves as an everyday reminder to Technogym employees and guests that quality of life can be improved by regular physical activity, correct nutrition and a positive mental attitude. The decorated walls also help to educate diners on the best way to nourish their bodies with a special emphasis on eating local and seasonal produce.
Wellness Valley Project: A Blueprint For Global Wellbeing
As part of the wellness experience we were lucky enough to discover the unique local culture and cuisine (especially at La Sanglovesa and Maré, which I highly recommend stopping by if you visit the area). In fact, we were particularly lucky because we were in a very unique region of Italy; the Wellness Valley, Romagna.
Feeling that he was fortunate to have grown up in a community that educated him, Nerio Alessandri decided that he wanted to give back to the local community and so in 2002, set the challenge to turn this picturesque region into the first international wellness district by investing in the region's human, historical, artistic, natural and food capital. Years later, the Romagna region ranks highly for quality of life as many activities are in place to educate the local community about living a healthy lifestyle. While the elderly are encouraged to exercise on the beaches, around 35,000 children in the region have access to play-based classes where they learn about food and movement. The hope is that they will pass on their knowledge to future generations.
Motivating people to move more and adopt a wellness lifestyle is seen by Technogym as their social responsibility. Their belief, and that of the Wellness Foundation (a non-profit organisation), is that wellness is a social and economic opportunity; for governments it means reduced health costs, for businesses it means increased productivity and reduced absences, and for individuals it means a happier lifestyle. Most people see Technogym, The Wellness Company, providing the opportunities for gym-goers to get fit, but little do they know, Technogym are creating a blueprint for global sustainable development. So, next time you jump onto a treadmill to try to drop a couple of lbs, try to think of the bigger picture: WELLNESS.
Thank you, Technogym, for an unforgettably inspiring trip!