S-Drive Trainer, Self-Powered Treadmill Innovation

Discover how smart design brought the S-Drive Performance Trainer to life

To develop the S-Drive Performance Trainer, we began as we always do, by listening to the needs of the fitness world and rising to the challenge. In this case, we discovered that group circuit training environments and athletic performance training facilities were looking for the same thing — a tool to help users 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.

From paper and pencil to a self-powered training toolEven as our 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.

Harnessing maximum intensity

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.

Pushing athletes of all kinds

Yet another leap in design happened when we observed that many circuit training programs were including sled pushing to help build explosive drive. Our 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 we already had an adjustable brake to replicate the feel of real parachute resistance, we 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.

Exceeding expectations with an experience unlike any other

After hundreds of hours of researching, sketching, experimenting, testing and gathering user feedback, our design team had created a truly unique piece of training equipment. Only the S-Drive Performance Trainer combines the benefits of a user-driven treadmill, weighted sled and resistance parachute in one space-saving footprint. Whether used as part of a circuit training environment or as part of an athletic training program, the S-Drive offers an intense exercise experience that can be adjusted to challenge all users, from the aspiring fitness enthusiast to the elite athlete.


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