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Fitness for all

The public's approach to exercise is changing, according to Technogym’s Michele Moro, regional sales manager, Middle East & India

In the eighties, bodybuilding was cool. Spurred on by celebrity icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger, young men the world over hit the gym to pump iron and build their biceps.

In the nineties, however, the weight benches were sidelined by an influx of new, cardio-vascular equipment. Treadmills, cross-trainers, exercise bikes and rowing machines enabled image-conscious gym-goers to reach their peak physical condition.

Now, in the new millennium, the tide is again turning, according to Michele Moro, regional sales manager for the Middle East and India for sports equipment company, Technogym.

“We prefer to call ourselves ‘The Wellness Company’ because we find that that tagline better expresses what it is that people are looking for when they go into the gym,” Moro corrects. “Today people are concerned with leading a healthy life, and the exercise experience is an important part of that lifestyle.”

Technogym, which supplies many hotels and fitness centres around the Middle East, conducts research into user trends and has found that a broader demographic of users is starting to realise the need for physical exercise.

“Obesity is becoming a huge issue and is related to all sorts of other health issues, from coronary diseases and diabetes to bad backs and joint problems,” says Moro.

“This fact has been well publicised in recent years — there’s still a long way to go when it comes to educating people, but many people are now starting to take responsibility for their own well-being and are building exercise into their day-to-day lives.”

As a result, Technogym is developing its product range to cater for today’s more diverse assortment of gym users.

“Our machines can be used by everyone, from my mum to professional athletes,” confirms Moro. “Olympic champions, Formula One drivers and football teams all use our equipment, but at the same time the equipment can be found in hotels, where it is used by businessmen or holidaymakers.”

Indeed, Technogym was recently selected to supply gym equipment for three training centres at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. 61 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, 66 pieces of selectorised resistance equipment and 59 pieces of weight equipment will be available to Asian Games competitors in the Athlete’s Village, the Khalifa Stadium and the Hamad Aquatic Centre.

Moro stresses that the equipment is not only for the professionals, however, and says that the company is just as committed to making those less sporty feel at home in the gym.

To this end, the company recently launched its new EasyLine quick training circuit, which is specifically designed to appeal to people who are intimidated by traditional gyms.

The circuit includes strength and metabolic training machines and Technogym applied its understanding of biomechanical and ergonomic principals to the EasyLine machines to improve user comfort.

“The simple and welcoming design attracts both active, ageing users and young adults alike,” says Moro. “The EasyLine design takes inspiration from everyday objects — chairs or car seats — with a focus on details that give a solid look and great comfort.”

An important feature of all Technogym’s lines is the consistency of certain features across all machines. All the cardio-vascular equipment has the same controls and displays on their touch-screen monitors, and on the strength machines, the colour yellow indicates a knob or lever that can be adjusted. Such features have benefits in terms of ease of use, as Moro explains:

“Users can just sit and start the exercise, finding the ideal pace suited to their physical condition,” he says.

“This is a particularly good feature in hotel gyms. People that have used a piece of Technogym equipment at any other gym or fitness centre in the world can walk into the hotel gym and feel completely reassured — they know how things work and they can just get on with what they want to do.

"This ideal for business travellers or other frequent fliers who might be put off the facility altogether if faced with a machine they couldn’t operate.”

Moro places great emphasis on the importance of making hotel gyms in particular as user-friendly as possible. In the four- and five-star market, he says, guests have come to expect that all hotels will have a gym, but it the past these facilities were often neglected and under-invested, tucked away in dark and dingy corners of the property.

Now, with the growing number of people accepting exercise as a key element in a healthy lifestyle, hotels are being forced to step up their game and treat the gym as a key part in the overall hotel experience.

“The gym doesn’t have to be about pain and sweat. It should be a pleasant and welcoming place — it should entice guests to want to exercise as soon as they walk through the door,” he says.

“A guest that enjoys using the facilities will come back again. It’s an investment the guests will appreciate, so if you’re going to spend millions of dollars to build and furnish a hotel, why cut corners when it comes to fitting out the gym?”

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