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Italian fitness guru works energy into his life

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(CNN) -- Fitness fanatic and wellness champion Nerio Alessandri started designing gym equipment in his garage about 25 years ago.

Today, the Italian entrepreneur is a dominant force in the industry.

Whether on the assembly line, overseeing research and development or working on projects for charity, Alessandri's life revolves around seemingly endless activity.

Although the company's turnover hit $353 million in 2005, Technogym's president is not the type of person who's keen to show off the trappings of his success.

"I live very well because I am fortunate," Alessandri told CNN.

"For me the first priority is my family, the wellness of my family. I am very happy about my family. I stay with my children, with my family, every day -- as much as possible. They are my tutors, they're my coach."

The wellness concept has grown out of Alessandri's pursuit of health and well being for all.

There's a Wellness Foundation -- its focus is education -- and other innovative projects, like the one that sees fitness trainers approach the elderly in parks, encouraging them to stay mobile.

In his spare time, Alessandri visits the island of Capri, off the coast of Sicily.

There, he and his family spend their time on his 150-foot (45-meter) boat "Istranka" (there's even Technogym equipment there, too) and racing around the Mediterranean on a jet ski

He heads to the island with his family at every opportunity, before work beckons him back to the town of Gambettola, on the north east coast of Italy, where he lives and where Technogym is based.

The company began in 1983 when Alessandri designed a machine for friends who owned a gym in Rome -- 23 years later it has a global reach.

The company's machines are in more than 35,000 fitness centers and 20,000 private homes around the world.

Buy a machine and a bit of the Alessandri philosophy comes with it, with a virtual personal trainer available to monitor workouts and help update programs online.

"The Technogym approach is not only to sell the products, but we provide the philosophy too -- the wellness philosophy," Alessandri says.

"The wellness philosophy has products, plus education, support and -- very importantly -- to create the experience, to offer the experience, the wellness experience.

"And we are a different kind of service through the Net trainer, which is the personal trainer online; through the teletrainer, by the telephone; or the personal trainer at home."

Given Alessandri's start in the business, it is no surprise that Technogym has a strong focus on research and development.

More than 100 staff work on new designs and innovation -- and when staff aren't working on the products, they are working out on the products.

Alessandri gives his employees a two-hour lunch break every day so they can make time for physical activities and lead a wellness lifestyle.

"Eighty percent of our employees follow the corporate wellness product. We customize specific program for each employee," Alessandri says.

Technogym's corporate awareness has received recognition. In 2003 Ernst & young dubbed Alessandri Italian Entrepreneur of the Year, and America's Fortune magazine named Technogym among the 10 best places to work in Europe.

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