Your Best Home Gym – Personal Fitness Options Just Got Better
Known as “the Ferrari of gym equipment,” Italy’s Technogym has been the choice of high-end fitness centers and commercial gyms for a quarter of a century. More than 80,000 fitness facilities in over 100 countries use the brand. If you travel and favor luxury hotels, you have probably seen and/or used it – Technogym is so popular with 4 and 5-Star hotel fitness centers that many brag about having the brand just as they do about using Frette linens or Bose sound systems. This is how I got to know the products, by working out on the road.
Now Technogym is bringing its long track record of sleek, functional design and very high quality to the home with an increasing emphasis on consumer models, accessories and brand-new workout technology. This is more relevant than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19, which shuttered gyms and fitness studios nationwide and led to a surge in home fitness alternatives.
For many, including myself, even as gyms reopen the appeal of going is very low, and once you have invested in quality home gear – and learned to appreciate the high value of time saved commuting during this work from home era – the extra time required, monthly fees and crowds make the idea of leaving home to workout lose its appeal. For this reason, sales of home fitness equipment have skyrocketed – just in March, less than a month into the pandemic, when many assumed it would be much shorter lived, home fitness equipment sales more than doubled from the previous March, with stationary bikes and weights nearly tripling. CBS News reported a bigger uptick than at New Year’s when resolutions typically drive the year’s biggest demand, with online sales increasing by a staggering 535% from February to March over the same period in 2019.
On the hardware side, Technogym makes just about everything you could want at home, from a single aerobic machine in your office or rec room to a full blown, commercial style home gym. It makes numerous models of all the most popular machines, stationary bikes, ellipticals, rowers, stair climbers and treadmills, including some of the most exclusive models on the market, while addressing a wide range of budgets (though it is never cheap).
For example, I’ve been testing the entry level stationary bike, the Group Cycle Connect ($2,590), which despite being the least expensive offered, is a fantastic piece of hardware. This is basically a commercial quality bike in the style you find at the top indoor cycling classes – only better than most. It is absolutely rock solid, very heavy duty, very smooth, easily and intuitively adjustable in terms of seat, handlebars, etc. It has everything you need for self-motivated riding and nothing you don’t. In addition to the obvious quality of the hardware, its straightforward touchscreen digital display, which is compatible with wireless heart rate monitors and tracks the essentials like speed, length, cadence and the less common but extremely useful wattage output, the most accurate assessment of effort, is powered by the bike itself and comes on when you turn the pedals. This means the bike, unlike most competitors with displays or electronics of any kind, needs no power outlet.
It also rolls smoothly on integrated wheels so you can move it around as needed – I rolled it onto my patio for an “outside” ride. Finally, like just about all Technogym machines it has one big advantage, connectivity with the free My Wellness app, which allows you to scan the QR code on the bike’s tablet – or any Technogym machine or weight rack in any gym in the world – and track all your workouts, home and hotel, if you are into that sort of thing. The latest version of the MyWellness App, 5.0., is available on Android and Apple and connects with leading digital fitness tools like Garmin, Under Armor’s Map My Fitness, Polar Beat, Asics Runkeeper,
If you care about details, the little things that add up to high quality, Technogym is for you. For example, this bike uses magnetic resistance powered by rare earth neodymium, one of the most powerful magnetic substances, for an ultra-smooth friction free ride, and no pads to war out. A Kevlar belt (the material used in bullet proof vests) makes for silent and maintenance-free riding with no need for re-tensioning or lubrication, and the pedals (which come with one sided SPD compatible clipless built in for those who use cycling shoes) are spaced at exactly the same width as standard road bikes to truly emulate an outdoor cycling pedal stroke. The adjustments to the seat, handlebars and so on are a patent pending design that can be adjusted on the fly with one hand while you are riding to really dial in perfect fit. Even water bottle access is better designed than on other brands I’ve tried.
That’s all in the entry level model, but Tehcnogym makes nine different home stationary bikes, from $2,590 to over $12,000 with varying features, including full interactive tablets and several recumbent models, something you see in gyms all the time but rarely in home models. Their latest breakthrough is the brand new SkillBike ($4,870), the first and only indoor stationary bike with actual shifting to more closely simulate outdoor riding. It is aimed at avid recreational cyclists, and in this vein, also has unique multi-position handlebars that include road bike drops and a triathlon/time trial style center aerodynamic setup, something I’ve never seen on any indoor model.
If you want to train for outdoor riding, this is the way to do it. The Skillbike display works with Strava and Zwift, allowing you to take the challenge of outdoor cycling inside with the Real Routes function: ride simulated road routes and break your personal records or compete virtually against cyclists from all over the world. You can select stages or races from the extensive Zwift library and be immersed in real-life race scenarios that synchronize video with the route in terms of climb, speed, resistance level, etc.
I haven’t tried the other models outside of hotel gyms, but Technogym also makes a full lineup of treadmills, from the Myrun, a compact model with a small home footprint ($4,470) up through professional models like the Run Personal at over $16,000. They have the same broad ranges of ellipticals and stair climbers and a high-tech rower.
Unlike most companies making treadmills or bikes, Technogym has also specialized since it began in multi-function, multi-station weight stack and cable strength machines. Its signature Unica is a perfect example of the brilliant Italian design aesthetic, packing 25 different key strength training exercises including full leg station, overhead, chest, biceps, rows and more into a single unit that takes up just 16 square feet, including a 180-pound weight stack in easily adjustable 10 pound increments. They also make a full array of free weights, like those racks of hexagonal dumbbells you find at better equipped gyms, fitness balls, bands, high-end jump ropes, and my favorite extra, the Wellness Bag, a portable strength training kit that include two handles, assorted resistance bands and ankle straps, all in a sleek carrying case for a highly portable workout that you can also use a home if you have limited space and don’t want to go for traditional weights ($295).
But the latest and biggest news for home workouts is the just introduced (July 28) Technogym Live, a completely new and engaging training experience that competes with popular virtual platforms like Peloton. It allows users to enjoy both live and on-demand training video content, the variety of which is staggering, with trainer-led workouts, group classes, outdoor virtual training, and ongoing training routines, all aimed at every type of user, from general fitness to competitive performance athletic training programs to health, weight loss and prevention oriented programs.
The press materials describe it as “the Netflix of training content – is the first platform in the industry to deliver preferred training to users whether they’re at home, work, out and about, or in any gym, club or hotel. With a level of artificial intelligence not yet seen in the fitness sphere, the platform acts as a remote coach, suggesting workouts – and workloads – tailored to daily goals and time.”
Consider just one element of Technogym Live, the “Technogym Sessions,” on-demand digital one on one workouts available across all cardio products. Led by top trainers from London, New York, Milan and Los Angeles (in English, Italian and Spanish), Sessions are organized in series of six classes, each series with a specific goal such as losing weight, building stamina, etc.
Technogym Live is available via a special console, first integrated in the Technogym Bike, and being rolled out across the entire range of cardio machines, on select treadmills, ellipticals and more.