Prototyping the Gym Heel Pad

Over the past three years and some change, a lot had to happen to get to this point.

It was also one year ago to the day that the Gym Heel Pad prototype was completed and ready for bespoke production. What a great day for a first blog entry!

Most of my time and effort has been focused on product concepts and developing prototypes that have an opportunity to become viable new standards incorporated into the gymnast's repertoire of sport-specific cool stuff. All things considered, this is a marathon endeavor.

After launch of the Bar Heel Pad– Asher Athletic's flagship product– continuation of a second heel protection product designed to fulfill a wider scope of use for a gymnast's foot had to persist. So with a small team of amazing people, we set out to do that.

Enter the Gym Heel Pad. In fact this was my first product concept, as notes and sketches show (I prefer paper and pen) from January, 2017.

The thought behind this was to make something a bit streamlined and well-formed to the heel for free movement. Before, I had seen photos of gymnasts on beam wearing those elastic wristbands that are often used with grips, except tightly stretched around the heel and instep. The idea was clear behind putting something under the heel that can provide some kind of cushioning for the hard beam surface.

So from that basic concept, I began to lose a lot of sleep over what needed to be done and how to do it. Much was learned during the development and manufacturing processes of the Bar Heel Pad; these techniques would as well be implemented on the new Gym Heel Pad.

Familiar construction features include:

  1. The effective and durable anti-slip material is used again on the touch surface of the heel pad.
  2. The superior cushioning that other manufacturers can't match.
  3. Attention to detail and among the highest standards of product quality in the sport.
  4. Washable and vegan materials for longevity.
  5. The most comfortable and lightweight protective footwear actually designed for gymnasts.

New construction features & techniques include: 

  1. Ergonomic shape forms around the ball of the heel for full protection.
  2. Heavy duty elastic instep strap for durability.
  3. Lightweight & reinforced stitching for strength.

Here is a look at some prototypes that were made and tested along the way:

First prototype

The major downside to this first effort was the flat sole (bottom). It didn't feel super stable, and pretty much right away it was known that the design needed to go further. But that's how things have to start. The preliminary cushion also lacked the desired rebound rate that would be necessary for constant effectiveness under successive quick steps or leaps.

Second prototype

A different elastic band was used to get more experience with different materials. This one didn't last too long as the elastic bands would fray and separate. The body of the heel pad was also updated.

Now we're on to something...

This was a breakthrough toward correct fitment of a heel protection that would create new standards of comfort and durability for these athletes. Through a lot of hard work, the heel pad now feels very stable and secure around the heel.

A more form-fitting and accurate shape has been created thanks to dedication and applying new methods in soft goods manufacturing.

Closer still to the real thing

Not yet the complete design, but here is a prototype further down the line of the Gym Heel Pad. Each version was made in order to progress to the next version and arrive at the best results. 

It was soon after the above prototype that the current model was eventually created. I believe eleven variations were created to arrive at the current version.

Visit the product page to see a design that is different and innovative still compared to the versions that came before it. 

So finally this summer, the Gym Heel Pad was introduced to gymnastics as a new way to protect the heels and ankles from impact on beam, while tumbling, and vaulting. I am hopeful many gymnasts find this an ideal training aid to help improve their skills.

Thanks for reading and taking a look at some of the story behind this increasingly popular foot protection from Asher Athletic.

I think the main appeal of this product is that gymnasts are discovering the value and benefits that the Gym Heel Pad offers. Find your perfect use for the Gym Heel Pad and purchase here.