How Velites Sport International Uses Athlete Feedback to Create Innovative Equipment for CrossFit
We’ve all been there: You’re trying to do double-unders, but your jump rope won’t cooperate. You’re trying to cycle the rope but it’s a tangled, jumbled mess, tripping you up with every step.
Many of us, frustrated with the rope, would simply untangle it and move on. Matias Hernandez Van Waes took a different approach. He used a tangled rope as inspiration to create a company: Velites Sport International.
Velites, an innovative sports equipment company, has a unique approach to innovation, inspired by Hernandez Van Waes’ rope experience: they take athlete and customer feedback into account at every step. Like the poorly-crafted jump rope — which the Velites team revolutionized with durable handles, the option to change cable weight, and more — they take everyday equipment and optimize it for athlete and CrossFitter needs.
Morning Chalk Up had the chance to chat with Velites’ Product Manager to learn more about how the company works with athletes to develop new gear and reinvent and redesign familiar equipment.
The Velites Process: To kickstart the development of a new or redesigned product, the Velites team gathers information in several ways:
- They stay in constant contact with customers, making sure to understand their needs and desires. This also includes professional athletes, who provide the team with feedback based on experiences in the field.
- The entire Velites team practices CrossFit, some even competing at an amateur level. By staying connected to the CrossFit ecosystem via social media, magazines, competitions, and more, they can keep a pulse on what the community needs or wants.
- They collaborate closely with gyms, learning the challenges and needs at an affiliate level.
Once this feedback and information from all sides of the CrossFit community are collected, the Velites team generates ideas and assesses the feasibility of developing those products. With one more consultation with athletes, the team is on to creation.
The process of producing a new or redesigned product includes testing and refinement, all involving real athletes. These steps are repeated until the team lands on something that satisfies athletes, with consideration for diverse preferences and training styles.
Implementing athlete feedback: One of the most vital pieces of the Velites process is athlete feedback; they believe that having actual athletes as part of development is essential. They are the best validators.
Every product, from their jump ropes and wrist wraps to backpacks designed exclusively for cross-training or fitness athletes (called the WODBAG, featuring magnets that allow you to stick the backpack directly to the rack), goes through the same extensive athlete testing.
A notable example of how this feedback works is with their Quad Ultra no-chalk hand grips:
- During competitions, athletes often experience grip fatigue, finding themselves slipping on the bar. Despite having the capacity to perform more reps, they may be forced to pause and apply chalk to prevent slippage. As the Velites team points out, this not only wastes valuable time, but prevents them from achieving their peak performance.
- To address this challenge, they created hand grips that work without chalk. Working with a durable material reinforced with Kevlar fibers, the Velites team created grips that can bear more weight.
Going even further, noticing a shift in gymnastic trends where grip strength is now predominantly required from the wrist rather than the fingers, Velites started including wrist wraps with their grips to protect the skin in that area.
- “We could continue producing grips using materials that others use and make them more beautiful and attractive, but we didn’t want to stand idly by while athletes had to stop to grab their chalk,” the Velites team wrote. “They train very hard to be the best, and having to pause because of chalk didn’t seem fair to us.”
- “Furthermore, this innovation that we brought to our customers has meant that many of them went from not being able to do a toes to bar, a chest to bar, or a bar muscle-up to being able to do it thanks to these grips. Many customers have told us that they no longer have to focus on their grip and can now solely concentrate on the movement, allowing them to perform these exercises.”
The bottom line: No matter what the product, Velites creates it with one vision in mind: to fulfill what their customers and athletes tell them. Their commitment to athlete feedback is what sets them — and their equipment — apart from the rest and has them ready to take CrossFit by storm.