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March 2009 Newsletter

Welcome to the Design for Sport newsletter. We hope you enjoy it and feel able to contribute to future editions - our aim is to showcase the role of innovation and great design.


The T-Bow is a cross between a balance board and a step block. We saw it first late last year at a trade show and it impressed because of its low cost and flexibility of use.

It probably makes most sense in a group environment where the trainers can encourage and cajole to get the most out of the participants. But using it at home as well is certainly an option and with the addition of video guides, perhaps even live streaming from the internet, it could be a really useful addition to the home gym. Swiss made, the T-Bow has a quality feel, the only detail that didn't work well was the use of elastic scarfs rather than bungee cords for working the arms.


Amer Sports Group, the giant Finnish brand owner of Wilson, Precor, Salomon and others has released its latest annual report. The one thing that caught the eye was the significant reduction (-20%) in sales of home fitness equipment. Amer put this down to the collapse of the US domestic housing market - which makes some sense. However their professional gym equipment sold marginally more than before - in fact they have some evidence of a growth in gym memberships.

So does this mean that consumers are buying gym memberships rather than home equipment - perhaps because they don't have a big enough home anymore?

We have designs that effectively link external gym membership with home use through data sharing and the internet. You can judge your workout at home, your run or swim to complement your gym workout, providing a bridge between pro and consumer. This is an extra selling channel for manufacturers that is pretty vacant right now - when confidence is low, upselling existing customers through innovation can be a key driver to increasing sales.

More News

New silly sport alert! This guy has taken standard skateboard trucks and attached them to a rigid wooden board. So far so normal. But then he's using a remote control aircraft engine linked to a three bladed fan to push the whole thing along. Now that's fun.

Olympic News

After the recent cricket attack in Pakistan the whole sport industry has once again opened their eyes to the fact that they are a soft target. Of course the Olympics is a distillation of all sports - thousands of people sitting in a single environment, with lots of attendant publicity and media present. Whilst it is entirely feasible to imagine a very controlled situation inside the stadiums, it's outside that the really big problems appear. How do you protect the thousands expected to watch the events in the London parks, where mega video screens are being erected. What about public transport?

Although the original budget for security was pitched at £600m, it seems likely that it will at least double, with estimates now appearing at the £1.5bn mark.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, with increasing terrorist threats, vanishing budget and withdrawing sponsors there may have to be a hard choice between pomp, performance and safety. And that is a choice no-one would like to make.

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