FitTech Insider

What is the new hybrid fitness approach, Francesco Arlotti?

For nearly four decades, Technogym has remained one of the most successful global fitness brands by listening and evolving with consumer demand. What know-how can they share with their peers in a post-pandemic world? “The real question in our industry is: ‘How do we enlarge the cake?’” says Francesco Arlotti, Global Head of Digital Solutions Sales.

Founded by Nerio Alessandri in 1983, Technogym is a world-leading brand in products and digital technologies for fitness, sport and health for wellness.

Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences, and apps. Over 50 million people train with Technogym in 80,000 wellness centres and 500,000 private homes worldwide. Their digital club program MyWellness allows users to access a personalized training experience at home, at the gym, or on-the-go. It has 15 million registered users and is found in 18,000 centres.

Francesco Arlotti about the company

Tell us about your positioning as a wellness company and what it means?
Our origins, starting with our name prove that we had a vision about technology from the very beginning. Since we launched, we took the tough decisions of defining ourselves as a wellness company. This seems easy, but at the time the market just knew what fitness was. Wellness is a lifestyle about physical exercise but also nutrition, mental health, and a positive mental approach to reach a status of wellbeing. Today as a company we’ve made an additional step — we have always seen it from a different point of view. The real question in our industry is: “How do we enlarge the cake and include more people?”.

In the beginning, we had a fitness focus, we were doing Jane Fonda classes. Then, we started introducing wellness as a category and introducing products and solutions involving the larger population — we started introducing a more inclusive design. We started designing things that were more about the curve, like the famous shape of our EXCITE treadmill, then we introduced software, then a cloud platform to personalize training, today on-demand contents.

The EXCITE treadmill is one of Technogym's iconic products. (Source: Technogym)

How has your model evolved during the pandemic to cater to consumers?
MyWellness App, our digital platform has represented a point of reference for many years for fitness club operators, as a CRM platform, to manage their members' experience and data and for consumers to enjoy a fully personalized training experience on their personal objectives and passions.

During the pandemic, we added new features to help fitness clubs to offer their programs and classes also outside the facility.

The keyword here is services: assessment, programming, life classes, on-demand content, physiotherapy session. Whether users are traveling or going to the center, they can use the system to have a connected site experience. It’s not about using the app when you are outside the center, but inside too.

The key thing to be successful in our industry today is developing an ecosystem that is able to surround people. As a business, you always have to stay relevant to the customers you are managing. Having a customer that visits the center twice per week with the risk that he won’t be able to the following one (because of holiday, business travels, or personal issues) and not being able to offer them anything doesn’t mean “being relevant”.

Ultimately, we have to recognize: people are moving and nomadic by definition — it’s about defining a model that makes us relevant for them in any context or place where they are.

What are your most popular products right now?
Our latest home fitness products like MyRun treadmill, Technogym Bike, and Technogym Bench, all fitted with on-demand training videos are booming. At the same time gyms are reopening all over the world and our fitness club-oriented ranges — like Excite Line for fitness, Skill Line for athletic training, and BioCircuit for circuit training — are extremely popular.

The Technogym Bench is fitted with on-demand training videos. (Source: Technogym)

Francesco Arlotti about market trends

Has our industry really undergone a digital transformation?
Depends on the point of view. Clearly during the pandemic the digital transformation, that was already happening, has accelerated….. there has been an incredible number of sites doing on-demand and live classes online and on Facebook & Instagram — does it mean we have digitalized our industry?

No, because offering a hybrid model that is capable of surviving beyond this period means being capable of having the entire spectrum of services and touchpoints that people are utilizing, all within one digital platform. Being corona-proof is a consequence, not a goal.

How can gyms get consumers back post-pandemic? How do you see the future of gyms?
In markets like Australia and Asia, but also the UK, that has reopened already, we see that once gyms have reopened after the pandemic, classes are fully booked. There is an incredible willingness to come back — people miss socializing with other people. Same as restaurants.

Home fitness will never be able to replace fitness clubs for some very clear reasons: a variety of equipment and programs, the possibility for people to socialize, and professional service by certified trainers. Having said that, home fitness is there to stay and will not disappear once fitness clubs will reopen. People will approach fitness in a hybrid way, they will train both at home and at fitness clubs and not at home or at fitness clubs. This represents a great opportunity for gyms to be able to become wellness hubs and sell their programs and services both inside and outside the facility.

Francesco Arlotti @ FitTech Summit:Digital Edition

On May 25-28 2021, the FitTech Summit is going live with a fully digital edition, with three days full of insights devoted to the future of fitness and health in the post-pandemic world. We are pleased that Francesco Arlotti will be part of this event.

How does Technogym help out gyms specifically, what options do you offer them to help move the industry forward?
By providing them an Ecosystem to help them offering end-users relevant and personalized training experiences precisely designed on their very own goals, passions, and aspirations in order to help people getting results.

People are looking for variety, personalization, and mobile accessibility to what is right for them exactly where and when they want it. Connected Ecosystems are the only way to be able as an operator to deliver this kind of experience to people.

Writer Scott Galloway said: “In most industries innovation happens because the incumbent, the old history is too slow.” How do you see this dynamic play out in the traditional fitness market?
We see it in a positive way. In the mindset of an operator, the competition is on the other side of the street. But today, there is no doubt that today competition can come from Mars.

If you have a way for people to start moving and get over the barrier, it’s good news for operators because as a consumer, once you start you desire more, whether more sophistication, variety, HIIT, access to other people, professional service. The fact that there are going to be other players increases the population of those who go to the gym, so it’s not a bad thing.

Francesco Arlotti about the future

What’s going to be the new normal and new way of managing gyms?
The new normal in fitness and the new way of managing gyms will be strongly connected to new ways of consumers to live fitness, wellness, and sport.

Technogym launched in 2012 the “Wellness on the go” strategy, meaning the possibility for people to access their wellness experience anytime and anywhere: at the gym, at home, at hotels, at work, or outdoor. After the pandemic, this strategy is more than ever relevant and innovative. After months of isolation, people will want to live, meet, socialize, resume, more than before, to train in fitness clubs. They will do it quickly and with a different approach and an unprecedented habit of using digital, acquired in recent months.

So the new way of managing fitness clubs will definitely need to take into consideration these changes and adapt to the new people needs:
  • Personalization
  • Connectivity
  • On-demand experiences

Technogym has always been at the side of fitness club operators before and during the pandemic and of course, will do after the pandemic as a strategic long-term partner to help them manage their club in a new way.

The Mywellness cloud platform that we have launched in 2012 and continuously enriched with new features and capabilities, during the pandemic we have added functions for clubs to manage customers also outside the club, and recently we have launched Technogym Live on-demand training experiences to help operators offering increasingly relevant and engaging training experience to end-users.

Francesco Arlotti will be speaking at the talk “The hybrid fitness club: In data, we trust” on May 25. Get your ticket here.