In developing the S-Drive, Matrix discovered that athletic performance training facilities were looking for a tool to help athletes take on the 30-second all-out sprints of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). What they needed didn’t have to be pretty, high-tech or even exceptionally comfortable. It did have to be intense, engaging and easy to get on and off in fast-paced training environments.
Even as Matrix industrial designers began their earliest sketches, they knew that they wanted our new piece of equipment to be user-driven for optimal use in sprinting and HIIT protocols. Because the user’s motion would drive the belt, the design team had to experiment with a wide range of inclines and flywheel sizes to find the equilibrium point that would allow the user to begin at a true zero starting speed. Once they established a 7-degree angle and paired it with a perfectly sized flywheel, they found that they could provide a true-to-life ground reaction force for users of virtually any size.
Designing the ideal harness came next. This meant looking at a great variety of materials, sizes and anchor points, plus studying how resistance systems worked in both circuit training and high-level athletic training. After multiple iterations and a wide range of user feedback, the design team knew that they had nailed it when users stopped asking questions, stepped onto the unit and stepped comfortably into the harness with little or no adjustment. Trainers were immediately impressed by the fact that it allowed for a complete range of upper body movement, and we in turn refined our design to maximize sightlines. Now coaches and trainers could closely observe and critique form in every phase of sprinting, something that’s impossible when the athlete is sprinting away from them on a track.
Yet another leap in the design happened when Matrix observed that many circuit training programs were including sled pushing to help build explosive drive. The research also found that other facilities would have liked to — if they had the room for weighted sleds. Almost immediately, a new avenue began to open in the minds of the design team. Though they already had an adjustable brake to replicate the feel of real parachute resistance, the Matrix designers added a second along with an integrated handhold bar to simulate pushing a sled up to 122 kg / 270 lbs. The bar placement evolved along with incoming user feedback, and soon our design team discovered the optimal bar position and shape to reduce stress on the pressure points of the hands and wrists while maximizing the intensity of the lower-body workout. Now virtually any facility could offer sled pushing without needing the space of a large field or incurring the risk caused by pushing a sled inside a busy exercise environment.
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