Grit is a pair of resistance training shoes that replicate the experience of training on soft sand found in coastal regions. Grit makes this phenomenon accessible to athletes globally, training on any ground surface. The sole of the shoe mimics sand, absorbing energy from the user and fatiguing leg muscles faster through strenuous exercise. Studies show, through sand training, athletes build leg strength over time and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.The shoes are to be used only in training sessions. Come game day, playing without Grit makes performing considerably easier for any athlete.
The concept of Grit is based on research conducted on sand dune resistance training. The world's greatest athletes (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and others) train on soft sand to increase the level of difficulty of their exercise. Sand training slows them down considerably, training explosive muscle movements and strengthening specific muscle groups for acceleration.
The goal of running with Grit is to function and feel like running in soft sand. The foot is nested in a lattice sole. When the foot strikes the ground, the lattice collapses and dissipates the energy from impact. This experience feels extremely comfortable on the bones with the shoes absorbing a majority of the impact.
When the athlete transfers body weight to the front of the foot, the structure of the sole is designed to sink, countering the athlete's motion forward.
When the foot has lifted off the ground, the lattice sole relapses to its original form, ready for the next step.
While exercising with Grit on any surface, the shoe's aim is to increase the amount of energy required to train. This experience provides athletes with intense but effective training in a short period of time.
This project required that we design a product opportunity for Adidas. The product should cater to new athletic and sports pursuits and leverage new technology.
I conducted ethnographic research to uncover insights at a sand dune park in Manhattan Beach, California. I discovered a number of athletes exercise on steeply inclined sand dunes that constantly shifted, causing their feet to sink, making it incredibly hard to ascend.
Even though exercising on soft sand was incredibly hard, the location had become so popular that the park had to be shut down and reopened with a reservation system to cater to the huge crowd.
Upon learning that there was a great demand to exercise at Sand Dune Park, I wanted to understand why people flocked to this seemingly strenuous and difficult exercise method.
I interviewed several athletes at the location. One of the experts, a beach volleyball Olympian and US coach, explained the many benefits to exercising in soft sand.
Sand absorbs impact from the bones and does not hurt the athlete. It also strengthens muscles for acceleration, balance, and jumping. In a quick span of time, sand training can leave one with effective performance results. Scientific studies have proven sand training to have positive performance results.
There was an opportunity to make the benefits of sand training accessible to athletes in training globally.
The design goals for Grit were:
- Create a resistance training shoe for athletes by replicating the properties of soft sand within a self-contained shoe.
- Dissipate energy when the foot strikes the ground, fatiguing the athlete's leg muscles faster. This is the opposite of training shoes on the market today that return energy to the user and make training easier.
- Increase resistance training through the shoe. This helps athletes reach their previous performance limits much faster and improve on them.
- Design a shoe that embodies the mindset of an athlete that continuously pushes their limits.
I started to create prototypes that at first simply used sand. Using magnetic sand, I created a shoe with sand bags glued below the sole and ran in them. I quickly learned that when a shoe has a soft base, the foot tends to rock and be unstable. For this reason, I incorporated the idea that the foot needs to nest and be wrapped around by the sole.
Some failed prototypes were made using materials like kinetic rock and playdough in the sole.
Working through different material options, I realized the benefits of lattices in shoes beyond the reasons they are being used in shoes today: the lattice boosts performance and returns energy. I believe lattices are good for being able to collapse and dissipate energy. Printing various lattice structures and learning what their physical properties were good for, I then created a lattice prototype to test with different parts of the foot containing different structures. While the heel of the foot took the most weight and impact, the front of the foot sank softly to counter the running motion, as sand does.
This led to the final result of Grit.
Grit is unique in 5 ways.
1- No shoe on the market today addresses the need and benefits of resistance training. Grit is the first of its kind, creating a new category of training shoes that caters to the physical needs of athletes today.
2 – Grit makes training for athletes harder, not easier. This is a new philosophy for footwear where designs traditionally cater to enabling the athlete to perform better as much as possible.
3 – The construction of the shoe in Grit is unique as the bottom sole nests around the foot. This essentially surrounds the entire foot with a soft and supportive sole that absorbs impact at all angles like sand does.
4 – In manufacturing and assembly, Grit contains just two main pieces. A fabric knit sock is slipped into a 3d printed recyclable lattice sole. The two parts are knitted together. The materials are easily separated and recycled post use. Traditional soles are made from composite foam assembled with strong glues and a manufacturing process that renders the shoes non-recyclable.
5 – The visual aesthetic of Grit pushes the boundaries of what is possible with emerging materials and production techniques.
Grit has many benefits for the client – Adidas.
Grit is based on a personalized fit using the biometric data of each customer. This creates a direct-to-consumer sales channel, eliminating the need for the middleman retailer and increasing profit margins for Adidas per pair significantly.
Grit does not require tooling molds for the outsole. Shoe outsoles usually cost several thousand dollars per mold. Grit's product process eliminates the need for creating molds in 20+ sizes. A heavy investment cost is removed, decreasing the risk of investing in this opportunity.
Leveraging Adidas' Futurecraft 3D printing platform, the channel to create Grit is already in place, allowing a low-risk investment opportunity for Adidas. Each pair can be made after ordering, eliminating the need for extra inventory and receiving the payment before manufacturing.
Innovation plays a big role in athletic footwear brand image often resulting in excitement from footwear enthusiasts. This innovative product line adds to Adidas' brand reputation creates a trendsetter pushing the future of footwear.
Grit makes soft sand training, a coastal lifestyle experience, accessible to athletes globally.
With the sole of Grit absorbing the majority of the impact, bones and joints in the body are subject to reduced impact. This reduction in impact allows older athletes to continue to exercise on hard surfaces such as concrete.
The shoe has a unique construction and creates a recyclable solution that is not present in shoes today.