Nerio Alessandri: What I've Learned
Prehistoric man was a hunter-gatherer whose body was designed to cover 20km per day as he roamed looking for water, food and shelter. Today, on average we walk less than one kilometre per day.
There was no fitness industry in Italy in the 1980s. Gyms were predominately archaic places used only by bodybuilders. They were sweaty, they smelt horrible and there was no technology. They were just intimidating places where people lifted weights in front of mirrors.
When I would go to the gym, I would see so much potential in them. I saw that they could be more inclusive with machines that could be easier and safer to use. I had this idea of turning something that was very niche, into something very mainstream, by making the gym a place that was fun and related to all sports, rather than just bodybuilding.
I started my company in the garage at my parent’s house. The biggest challenge was financing a new business that no credibility or brand recognition. We had to be smart about it, and that came from being innovative. In that era, we were offering unique, design-led machines, and the only way we could afford to build them was to convince clients to pay for the equipment upfront.
The first thing we did was create gym equipment that was safer and easier to use, but as the ’90s witnessed a boom in fitness, we expanded into creating cardio equipment with more features. We were the first people to create Constant Heartrate Programs, allowing treadmills to change the intensity of workouts depending on the heartrate monitor.
If it works, it’s obsolete. That is my personal motto, because if my career has taught me anything, it is the importance of continuous innovation. When a product or idea is at its peak, then you have to change it. If you rest on your laurels and wait for it to decline then you’re playing catch-up.
You don’t need to be a genius to succeed in life, you just need to be humble enough to learn how to listen to others and adapt what you hear into your solutions.
I’m not a genius, nor am I am not the most intelligent person in the room, but I am very curious. I always try to listen to experts, or customers, or members of my team —you can always improve if you listen properly.
I exercise three times a week, sometimes a little more. Unless you are an athlete, that is a good standard for your overall fitness.
I am definitely an optimistic person. I always try to see the opportunity in situations.