Using various screens, interior layouts, and colors, the GEA can switch between wellness, business, and sleep modes. Technogym was in charge of wellness mode and designed an environment intended to help eliminate one of the most common sedentary portions of people’s lives: driving. We spoke with International Public Relations and Media Manager Enrico Manaresi about how the concept came to be and just how effective in-car exercise can be.
What was the original concept behind Technogym and how did it get started?
Technogym was founded by Nerio Alessandri, our President and founder, in his garage. He was a young guy in Italy who was passionate about sports and technology. He was also a designer, so he took those passions and built the first machine in his garage.
Is it more about bringing fitness into your own personal spaces?
It’s a lifestyle. Technogym is a wellness company. Wellness is not just training in the gym a few times a week, it’s integrating wellness, health, and prevention into your daily lifestyle. So the gym is very important to us, but also at the home, with corporations, and hotels, as well.
Our idea is to integrate wellness in your day-by-day life. And our technological platform, our digital platform, mywellness cloud, allows people to connect with your personal program inside the gym to our equipment. You can take your wellness regime outside.
How has the concept for the company evolved?
We want to be a lifestyle company. We started as an equipment company, but the idea is to really be able to provide people a complete program made of equipment, software, services, and personalized solutions. It needs to be a complete service to the consumer.
You have recently entered the automotive space with a new partnership with Audi. How did that come about?
Yes, we launched the first wellness mood car. It’s a car which allows you to exercise while traveling. It’s an innovation concept.
Obviously driving is a major part of a lot of people’s lifestyles.
How did that idea sprout within your brand and programs?
Wellness is something you integrate into your day-by-day life, so the idea was why not bring that to traveling long distances? Why not have the posibility to train and keep in shape in your car? There is a very strong link between our president and the chief designer at Audi. He liked the idea of integrating this lifestyle within the car, and this idea was born.
Do you have any connections with other vehicles?
We have a long history of integrating with both Ferrari and McLaren in Formula 1. We are the official suppliers for the teams and we provide the pilots a complete training program. And now with McLaren we are also partnering with their P1 program. The car is for racing circuits, so we provide the customers a complete training regime inspired by the F1 pilots. It just launched. It’s been very positive so far. We’re talking to a target of sporty people who like to train and work out, so having training combined with their automotive passion has been met with good acceptance.
Are those training programs geared toward driving specifically
or is just wellness in general?
There is a general component, but then a very specific component for driving. So, specifically for the neck, torsion, sides, so there are two components.
How did Technogym specifically choose the Italdesign car for the concept?
They wanted to bring something innovative for lifestyle, so we combined our lifestyle experience with their expectation to create something new.
What do you think of the future of driverless vehicles?
We are very specialized about physical exercise, wellness, and movement. That’s not our industry. Of course, we believe that wellness is something very wide which we can implement into different sectors, but we are not from the automotive industry. But we believe that our vision can be implemented in lots of different sectors.
For example, in a regular car, it’s a lot more cramped, and there are space limitations. But in this new concept, you can turn the seats around, it opens the space up, so having that autonomous technology opens up possibilities for you.
Yes, it allows people to do more while you’re driving..
How was the program for the car created?
It starts with the kinesis experience we have. Basically, kinesis is our patent. It’s not just a machine, it’s a totally new discipline that allows you to train strength, balance, and flexibility at the same time, so it gives you endless possibilities with these cables. You can do any kind of movement.
Of course, we could not build the kinesis inside the car, but the postural exercises that we developed with kinesis were implemented in the car in a simpler way. The levers giving you the possibility to do stretching, to do flexibility, and to do core balance. We simplified this experience in order to provide the driver posture and flexibility. This especially matters on long-distance trips to keep in shape, to keep your back in shape, and stay relaxed and flexible.
How damaging is it for a person to be sitting in cars for hours day after day? What does that do to the body?
Being sedentary is our No. 1 enemy. We try to fight sedentary lifestyles in any case. Of course, in a car, you’re sitting, but we try to move you a little bit. For example, in our offices, if you need to sit, we sit you on wellness balls, so you’re moving. Sedentarity is our enemy to fight, and we try to do that in every field, in every situation to find ways to make people less sedentary.
With the bars that are built into the seats, they pop up, and what can you do with them?
You can step with the feet, and you can do postural exercises with your upper limbs.
So there are actual stair steppers?
Most of the exercises focus on isometric methods, correct?
In this case, yes. The idea is to apply our expertise and knowledge to a sedentary situation and make it less so.
How soon do you think some of these things could be incorporated into the cars?
There are possibilities. We are experts in movement. Wellness and fitness is not just going to the gym three times a week. It’s trying to move in your daily activities. Man was born to move. Our ancestors were doing 20 miles per day to look for water and food, and today we go less than a half mile per day. Our longterm goal is to make people move.
As this car was being developed, were there people from Technogym who were giving input for the interior design?
Of course. The interior movement concept was done by Technogym. The posture, the wellness integration, the accessories, and the programs in the screen guiding you were Technogym. Our design center within the company did that.
What do the programs do in the screens?
They guide you through the possibilities in the car.
With the lights that change for the different moods, do you really think that makes a difference?
It makes a difference. It creates an atmosphere. We believe that training is not just about the machine or the movement, but it’s about a mood. So that’s creating the right emotional atmosphere.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This shows how much wellness can be integrated into the automotive space. This experiment shows how wellness is becoming a global trend. It’s no longer a niche, but is becoming a mainstream trend.