Meet the Folks Behind Your PRs: Steven Rinaldi

While many of us are laser focused on our workouts, only a minority of gym goers ever take the time take a close look at the equipment that is changing their lives.

Former bodybuilder Steven Rinaldi, however, is an exercise innovator, the man behind the muscle, and the brains behind Primal; a growing brand that has exploded on the gym floor. We caught up with Rinaldi to find out more.

Steven Rinaldi has grown up with a passion for strength training, but he doesn’t just cater for clients like the world’s strongest men and ripped Olympia champions. He also works with bio-mechanics to make sure that his equipment is suitable for taller and shorter people. His all-encompassing approach to building equipment that can transform the lives of its users is part of Primal’s success, but where did it all start? And what is to come for this exciting company?

Primal is one of those brands that has really exploded. Where did it all start?

It started back in 2016. I’ve been in the industry since 2002. I was a junior bodybuilding champion back in the day and I’ve always loved fitness. I did sports performance in college. We had a previous fitness company but I was looking at the market and noticed that the gym floors had rows and rows of treadmills that weren’t being used. Rows of ellipticals and other machines that weren’t being used. And the strength areas were getting overcrowded. As a guy that trains, and being in the gym with all my friends, along with my wife, I thought; ‘we’ve got to change this.’

I then went on a mission to make the gym floor more strength based. Theres loads of companies that are now doing this, but I really feel like Primal was one of the early pioneers. It’s really evolved. What started with 120 products, and me thinking that I’d created the best rack is now 800 products and providing a full solution.

Courtesy of Primal

Was making that initial decision to focus on strength-based equipment a risk?

It’s not just about taking away five treadmills and putting five squats racks there instead. It’s looking at the market and saying; ‘Okay, if there’s more and more people training (for strength), let’s cater for it. Let’s be the people that develop that … we discussed things like the hip thrust bar. This wasn’t a product that was on the market until 2017 or 2018. Hip thrusts and glute drives really became popular two or three years later than that and exploded mainstream, so we were probably eighteen months early, but that’s where you’ve got to be: breaking down boundaries and creating markets.

Primal has definitely been instrumental in disrupting the traditional gym floor, but how do you compete when there are so many manufacturers out there with a head start?

One, I think that the Primal brand is very strong, when you’ve got an aspirational brand like Primal, and the demographic is slightly younger now; they are more social media based and they want to have a brand that they can love, and show off that they are using (us) on the socials, and that’s why we get tagged so much. Then, having built kit that lasts, and good bio-mechanics. You can’t just have a cool brand that doesn’t live up to the name.

The brand started in the UK, but how much of a presence do you have around the world in 2024?

We are working with various gym chains out in Saudi Arabia. We have our equipment in over one hundred gyms in South Africa already. We have product out in the United States. It’s there because the customers and clients are seeing what we do and asking us to provide it for them. We are in over twenty-five countries.

You don’t just design, manufacture, and install exercise equipment. What’s it like to work with athletes like Ryan Terry, the Stoltman Brothers, and many others to design their own gyms.

It generally starts out where the athlete, or the celebrity, or whoever it may be, reaches out to Primal and says; ‘Hey, I like what you are doing, can we come and have a chat?’ … Ryan flew over to see us, gave us some feedback on kit, we made some tweaks. He comes from an area that maybe wouldn’t have had a super-gym, so we set about helping him to design that. The zoning, lighting, the recovery suite, that full solution. To be able to work with him on all of that stuff truly delivers a world-class facility. It has to be organic. We are not sitting here ay PRIMAL and saying; ‘Okay let’s pick that celebrity and try and work with them.’

You get out to a lot of fitness expos. What are you learning from gymgoers about what they want most?

The average gymgoers are becoming more and more advanced. It’s so exciting for me as a guy that designs and builds kit. We’ve got a full new accessory range, tons of different attachments and handles. When you use different attachments on machines you completely use the muscles in different ways. Going forward in 2024, we are doing a big international push .. we launched the Performance Series. The international growth has been phenomenal and we look forward to continued expansion.

To find out more about PRIMAL follow them on Instagram!

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