In Depth

Why you'll want to get fit in a Technogym

Can technology transform couch potatoes into fitness fans? We find out

Eating processed foods and indulging in a "sedentary lifestyle" has lead to two billion people around the world being overweight, says high-tech fitness firm Technogym, an Italian company looking to put a spin on the conventional gym in an attempt to lower this figure.

To do this, the firm has created a host of connected gym equipment designed to help users track their fitness progress and motivate them to incorporate regular exercise into their daily life. 

It's already proving to be a popular system, with the company providing equipment to 180 facilities across the world, including several luxury hotels, as well as supplying the fitness equipment for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

They have also partnered with McLaren Applied Technologies, who are looking to use data-driven exercises to improve the performance of their racing drivers.  

To see how Technogym's equipment works and whether it can help non-gym-goers get active, we were given a quick warm-up session on its Skillmill running mill and Skillrow rowing machine. 

Later, we'd be put through our paces by McLaren's driver-performance manager, Simon Reynolds, to see how Technogym's Kinesis rig helps drivers cope with the physical exertions of an F1 car.

Fitness fans bored of the usual gym machines will find a lot to interest them in Technogym's range, but the gadgets will also appeal to less-active tech geeks.

For instance, the Skillmill running machine has a QR code on it so users can see how well - or not - they're doing by scanning it and using the company's Mywellness app. The same can be done on the Skillrow, which can also track arm and leg power individually. 

Both machines are fitted with dials so you can change your workout to suit. Turning the dial to its lowest setting is almost too easy, but the mid-range of the scale has a more natural feel. This is more noticeable on the Skillrow, which simulates the effects of moving through water.  

The highest setting is brutal, no matter how fit you are. 

However, it's incredibly satisfying to see your performance relayed to you in real time through the app, especially for those who like having a visual target to keep them motivated.

Following a short workout on both machines, Reynolds put us through a quick F1-style workout on Technogym's Kinesis rig, which looks intimidating and confusing at first, but is remarkably simple and intuitive to use.

Reynolds has trained the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne and McLaren junior Nyck DeVries and tells us they have to build their arm muscles to deal with the weight of their car's steering wheel at high speeds. 

The Kinesis rig helps this by working the muscles around the shoulders and arms using weights attached to cables. Reynolds gets us to lift the weights and bring our arms forward to mimic a steering wheel. It's a challenging exercise that highlights how much force drivers have to apply to the wheel. 

Technogym's tracking systems let McLaren monitor the performance of their drivers and target weak areas that need improving. 

This is what sets the company apart, as it gives users the data they need to see how they can improve. 

If you already go to the gym, it's a brilliant way of knowing how you can improve your performance and develop techniques for a more efficient workout, while couch potatoes will discover a great way of monitoring their progress every time they work out, hopefully motivating them to lead a more active life.  

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