This month Parvati Magazine connected with Ivo Grossi, CEO of the Americas with SportsArt, an innovative world leader in sustainable gym equipment. Their new ECO-POWR™ treadmill and cross-trainer line take sustainability to a new level by harvesting energy generated by the user and feeding it back into the grid.
Parvati Magazine: Congratulations on your appointment as CEO of the Americas with SportsArt. As a yogi and student of meditation, what attracted you to the firm?
Ivo Grossi: The initial draw was the sustainable technology they were developing, which allows fitness equipment to generate a net positive energy output by harnessing users’ exertion. I felt we could turn that technology into a powerful value proposition that adds a whole new level of meaningfulness to “breaking a sweat” by lowering power consumption and offsetting carbon footprint. In my personal practice and teachings, I constantly work on connecting and aligning the subtle body energy centers (chakras) to the elements. The current climate change predicament is a wakeup call for us, as humans, to reconnect deeply to pachamama [Mother Earth]. I feel blessed that my professional path and personal evolution brought me to a place where I have an opportunity to prove that people, planet and profit should be synergistic and not mutually exclusive.
My a-ha moment happened when they took me to a large meditation room at the top floor of the factory, which is open at any time of the day.
PMAG: How has mindfulness training helped you be a better business leader?
IG: I still remember the quizzical stares I was getting from my teams when I openly started practicing yoga and meditation on business trips and at corporate events. Eventually that initial reaction melted away when the realization dawned on everyone that the odd stuff I was doing wasn’t making me a weaker leader — actually, quite the opposite. The excellent top and bottom line numbers generated over a streak of several years were only matched by the increase in passion, engagement and accountability from the team. Neuroscience research over the last 10 years has brought to light the positive and lasting effects of mindfulness on mind, body and emotional response.
Still, in the majority of C-suites, the “tough-it-out” mainstream credo frowns upon yoga as “woo-woo” and reduces mindfulness to a “palliative” for stress-reduction. So, the paradox is that while the US Marine Corps is employing meditation and yoga to make its troops even tougher, business leaders still seem to fear that embracing wisdom practices would turn them and their people into a bunch of happy-go-lucky hippies. Yoga and mindfulness are not for the meek.
PMAG: The SportsArt brand was founded in Taiwan in 1978. Can you tell us about the roots of the corporate commitment to sustainability?
IG: Sustainability, environmental awareness and harmonized, balanced flow of energy have all been part of the founder’s credo since when SA was a lab. Suffice to say, I have personally met with the shaman who has worked with the Kuo family to build our current factory according to feng shui principles.
Under buildings at the Tainan, Taiwan factory, tubes store up to 7,500 metric tons of rainwater which is used, together with 100 metric tons of treated wastewater from the production line, for watering the grounds.
In January 2011, SportsArt’s Taiwan factory became ISO-14001 certified, which shows the company’s commitment to identifying and controlling the environmental impact of business activities, products and services, and to continually improve environmental performance.
PMAG: How are your clients leveraging the unique characteristics of ECO-POWR™ to grow their businesses, while also benefiting the environment?
IG: Our clients around the world are differentiating themselves by leveraging our ECO-POWR™ technology to cater to the largest demographic, flocking to the fitness industry: the Millennials.
We have equipped the first sustainable spinning studio in the world in Sacramento California. Their overall marketing spending has been $150. They are packed and already planning to expand into a franchise.
In the UK, we have equipped Eco Gym, a chain of boutique fitness clubs that is using our technology to incentivize their members based on the amount of watts they sent back to the grid on a monthly basis. Due to a sense of community around a bigger cause, their attrition rate dropped dramatically.
Radisson Red has equipped their first flagship Hotel in Brussels with ECO-POWR™. Their entire brand differentiation is based on sustainability, of which the “hotel gym” is not an afterthought but an integral part of their offering.
Ivo Grossi brings over 20 years of international executive experience in the fitness, health and wellness industry to his role as CEO of the Americas with SportsArt, producers of the ECO-POWR™ line of cardio gym equipment. Ivo teaches and practices yoga, meditation, and shamanism. He is a global speaker and writes about mindfulness, leadership and conscious business on his blog at www.ivogrossi.com.