Designing The Future of Fitness

Following an enviable career with European design houses Baleri Italia, Moroso and Cappellini, architect Cristian Brugnoli’s next move seemed a curious decision to his peers. 

“Many of my colleagues said, ‘Why Technogym? They make fitness equipment!’” recalls Cristian. “But I realised that we don’t only make fitness equipment, we give an experience. It’s about a lifestyle. We are really connected with architects, and every single product that we make is designed, taking care of every single detail. So I think this is my place right now.”

Technogym’s particular expertise in bringing experiential design to the no-frills world of fitness, is perhaps nowhere better articulated than at its sprawling Italian headquarters, designed by renowned architect Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel. 

The gym occupies two floors of an expansive round building, bathed in natural light which streams in through impressive full-height glazing. An outdoor platform provides a picturesque location for tai chi and yoga classes. A bird’s eye view of the gym shows an adjacent running track and basketball court, as well as the Technogym site’s enviable placement within an undulating green landscape, with the seaside just visible in the distance.

With a design drawing on proven company research and facilities equipped with Technogym’s innovative training units, the future-focused site is a near-utopian example of the spaces people associate with optimum health. Of course, it’s natural to associate activity with the great outdoors, and in an increasingly urbanised society, the ability to combine exercise with a dose of the natural environment is a double win for our health, both mental and physical. But for the time-poor majority, and the businesses that employ them, encouraging a workplace culture of health is an aspect of work life balance that is difficult to solve.

Fortunately, more decision-makers are recognising the value of investing in wellbeing, and are seeking active solutions that meet people where they are. In Cristian’s recent experience, companies with the luxury of large tenancies are foregoing the traditional office gym model in favour of spreading equipment strategically throughout the building, to invite a more casual interaction. 

“I think that corporate clients are becoming a huge market for us, because people have no time to spend an hour to reach the gym,” says Cristian. “So if they can train in their workplace, why not?”

Another pressing consideration in contemporary fitness and wellness design – or in truth, design in general – is the impact that social media has had on the health industry, and how this in turn affects the expectations placed on the spaces where we get our sweat on. At DENFAIR, as a guest on the panel ‘Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Designing For Optimum Health’, Cristian described a gym on the 36th floor of a Marina Bay building, where visitors can take a photo of themselves on the treadmill with all of Singapore beneath them.

“In the hotel and hospitality market, until four or five years ago, the gym and fitness areas were all located downstairs in the basement,” explains Cristian. “Now, step by step, they are growing in importance, and going to the 10th floor, 20th floor, 60th floors – because it’s become important to show these spaces.”

Hotels too, are having to adapt to the changing requirements of a mobile, ageing demographic.

“What is becoming very trendy is to have the gym in your own room in a hotel,” says Cristian. “Because not everyone likes to train in the middle of 20 people – especially aged people, they prefer to train in their room. And so we give the opportunity to hotels to buy some [stationary] bikes, or wellness bags we offer which include tools to be able to train privately. You can order these when you book your room. This is the new tendency.”

Catch the highlights and full video of the Speaker Series panel ‘Furniture, Fixtures and Fitness: Designing For Optimum Health’ here