Technogym Taps Olympians in Rio to Develop Fitness Equipment

  • Insight from athletes training at Rio games drives technology
  • Olympic sponsor hopes to expand in Brazil despite downturn

Technogym SpA is setting up 15 Olympic fitness centers in Rio de Janeiro where it will collect feedback from top athletes to help direct product development in an increasingly high-tech industry.

The Cesena, Italy-based athletic equipment supplier will assemble 1,200 exercise machines in Rio and have 50 trainers on site, Chairman Nerio Alessandri said in an interview. The largest of its venues will be 2,000 square meters (21,000 square feet), about half the size of a football field, all part of its strategy to network with the world’s top athletes and coaches to promote its brand in both Brazil and globally, said Alessandri.

A Technogym Skillmill.
A Technogym Skillmill.
Photographer: Brad Barket/Getty Images

“Connecting with the most important athletes in the world, the trainers, the coaches, it’s a very important source of feedback for innovation of new products,” Alessandri said by phone. “Working with the athletes gives us the opportunity to develop equipment on one side, and training programs on the other side.”

It will be the sixth time Technogym has supplied equipment to an Olympic event. The intelligence it gathered at previous games helped to design products including the Skillmill, a treadmill with a curved floor where users can go from running freely to the equivalent of pushing a car in neutral, or the sled push. Technogym announced the new product earlier this year and will deploy about 50 of them at Rio 2016.

Alessandri is looking past the economic and political turmoil rocking Brazil this year as it takes advantage of the first Olympics in South America to strengthen its brand in the region’s most populous country, where it already supplies fitness chains and hotels. It plans to donate about 600 exercise machines to gyms in low-income communities in Rio after the games are over. The company, which has a presence in more than 100 countries, also looks to expand in Chile, Argentina and Colombia in the coming years.

“It’s a very big opportunity for brand visibility,” Alessandri said. “Brazil is not in the best situation, but in terms of potential, in terms of interest in sport, it is very strong.”

Technogym rose 1.9 percent 3.83 euros, the biggest gain in two weeks.

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