Innovation does not begin in a lab, at a factory or on a computer monitor. At Matrix, the biggest and best ideas start with people. And not just any people. Matrix innovation begins with the most important people:
We look to facility owners, personal trainers, service technicians and individual users to identify ways to improve our existing products and opportunities to introduce new products to fulfill unmet needs. We don’t expect you to come up with the answers. That’s our job. But we know what we need to do because we listen to your comments and your challenges and then we experiment with solutions until we find the ones that work.
We believe the first step in innovation is not to act, but to listen. We listen to comments of and suggestions about our products and our competitors’ products. We ask questions and we reflect on the answers in order to get to the crux of the issue at hand. Ultimately, we take all kinds of feedback and translate it into product enhancements or prototypes.
Believe in Better
What started as a campaign has grown into an unofficial corporate motto for the constant yearning to improve
At Matrix, “Believe in Better” means that there is no finish line. We can always strive to work harder, take ideas farther, do more. Matrix dwells in that luminous intersection of continuous hope, constant inspiration and infinite possibility.
We have always operated this way, but we didn’t start expressing it succinctly until we redesigned a series of Ascent Trainers and Suspension Ellipticals and introduced the revolutionary ClimbMill. These were potential game changers that called for more than a caption in a catalog. It was news. Thus, the “Believe in Better” campaign was born.
But the concept itself has been imbedded in Matrix since the very beginning. When we talk to facility owners, service techs, personal trainers and end users, our goal is not simply to improve products. It’s not about introducing new machines. Believe in Better is our corporate ethos, and it applies to everything we are and everything we do. It’s every process, design and employee. We want to leave no source of ideas or inspiration untapped.
Ultimately, at Matrix we believe in better every single day.
Click here for our corporate Believe in Better video.
We can’t be sure that we’ve found the best solution until we’ve ruled out the ones that fell short. Not every idea makes its way to a prototype. Not every prototype makes its way onto the floor. Only the best ones do.
At Matrix, we know we will try some things that just won’t work. If we succeed every time, we’re aiming too low.
A Good Break
Unique pivoting uprights on our Breaker Benches optimally place the bar for greater comfort, easier takeoffs and increased efficiency. But that’s not the main reason our breakers are so popular.
It is a simple and intuitive design. It requires no instruction. No warning stickers. No learning curve. The pivoting breaker bench makes it possible to comfortably and securely bench press without a spotter, and it does that with a mechanism that tilts the bar into the optimal lifting place. As an added bonus, the slight pivot minimizes the strain on the shoulder that the lifter would otherwise feel when positioning the bar—even with the assistance of a spotter. It does it automatically and consistently. Every lift is the same.
The technology is pretty remarkable on its own, but it’s what we did next that made the biggest difference for our customers. We incorporated some slight industrial design changes—cosmetics, really—to make it obvious and easy for even first-time users. For example, we made the movement arm a different color so it’s clear that it is a different part. We also coated the bars with a custom urethane guarding to dampen noise and minimize wear on the bar. That made it more facility-friendly.
A lot of machines can accommodate users of different sizes and abilities, but they require a series of adjustments to ensure a proper form and fit. They are effective, but incredibly complex. Not the breaker bench. It works for a huge variety of users just as it is. It provides the perfect lifting pattern in every instance. And no one has to explain it—it explains itself.
At the end of the process is a product improvement or a new product altogether. A ClimbMill that is far easier to maintain and service. A new Ascent Trainer instead of another elliptical. A console that connects to social media. A bench press that eliminates the need for a spotter. An automated communication system that maximizes machine uptime and return on investment.
The list can go on and on—and it will—because Matrix remains dedicated to bringing our customers new and better ways to meet their customers’ needs.
We make it sound easy. It isn’t. We are challenged on a daily basis to demonstrate the talent of our people, the quality of our products, our commitment to excellence and our loyalty to our customers. It is hard but exhilarating work to continually push the boundaries of our comfort zone so that we can deliver more tomorrow than we did today.
When we talk about innovation at Matrix, we’re talking about our never-ending, unfailing endeavor to exceed your expectations of our products, of our service and of our solutions.
Adding ingenious features and vastly improving serviceability turned a good idea into a great one.
It used to be called “The Gauntlet” because getting through a workout on it felt, at times, like nothing short of a miracle. There are few cardio machines that deliver a challenge like that of the ClimbMill, which replicates stadium stair climbing. It is not for the meek.
While the ClimbMill builds its user reputation on its intensity, we at Matrix stake our customer reputation in part on serviceability. That is why the machine that delivers the toughest workout is also one of the easiest to service.
In fact, service techs can access the ClimbMill’s inner workings by using a quarter—or a nickel or a dime—to open the shroud. An interior service light eliminates the need to juggle a flashlight. Techs can open it up, look inside and get straight to the heart of any issues. That’s impressive but it’s also necessary considering the nature of this beast: It’s not a small piece of equipment. Owners won’t have to move it or tip it over just to access the motor for routine maintenance or repair.
Serviceability isn’t the only thing that makes the Matrix ClimbMill stand out. If you’ve had any exposure to the ClimbMill, you know that anyone who uses it is going to sweat. A lot. And too much moisture can wreak havoc on finely tuned exercise equipment.
We knew the sweat situation was a sign that we did things right: The ClimbMill was designed to deliver an epic workout. But we also knew that we had to find a way to track perspiration away from critical internal parts and components. So we came up with a feature that does just that. Our unique Sweat Management System channels moisture away from the machine operations and into an easily accessible tray. This not only prolongs equipment life but also keeps the cardio floor clean.
We make it sound easy. It was anything but. In fact, our goals for the ClimbMill were as audacious as the workout itself. Which is exactly what made it worth the effort.
The Genesis of Greatness
At Matrix innovation begins in the most inspiring place: with our customers
It’s one thing to say that you listen to your customers. It’s another to espouse a product development process that begins and ends with customer feedback. Everything we do at Matrix begins with a customer need, and the work isn’t done until that need is satisfied—even if you can’t quite articulate what it is that you need or if you can’t imagine how a problem can be solved.
At Matrix we have a system for this. Our product development process exists to identify and develop solutions that our clients haven’t imagined yet. Sometimes identify problems that the industry didn’t know existed. What that means is that we can give clients more than what they ask for. We give them what they need, even if what they need doesn’t exist at the moment and even if they don’t know how to ask for it.
We can do that thanks to our customer focus and user research to identify ways to improve existing products, isolate the root of existing problems and to predict future consumer demands so that we can get out ahead of them and give people what they need before they realize they need it.
Our development groups are creative, highly experimental teams that challenge corporate, industry and consumer assumptions in an effort to truly reimagine what we do and how we do it—every single day—so that we can deliver improved products and solutions. Products that feel better to end users. Products that are easier to service. Products that deliver fitness results faster and more comfortably. Products that generate a greater return on investment.
Every insight, improvement or innovation starts in the same place: with our customers.
Rising to New Heights - The Ascent Trainer
Reconceiving the elliptical introduced an entirely new way to work out by combining resistance and rise with the footpath.
Our customers notice a lot of similarities between the elliptical and the Ascent Trainer. Both offer a great, low- or no-impact workout that is easy on the joints. The Ascent Trainer also shares the elliptical footpath and incorporates resistance for a tougher workout. They are the same size, and the suspension frame occupies the same space on the floor. They both deliver a great-feeling workout that taxes the body in all the right ways and none of the wrong ones.
But there is a difference. The Ascent Trainer adds another element to the workout, and that’s where things get really interesting (or challenging).
The Ascent Trainer allows users to adjust the height of their ellipse by adding incline or rise to their path of motion. That means someone can go from a walk to a jaunt up stadium stairs—all with just the touch of a button. The same person could still ramp up their resistance, too.
Why add both rise and resistance? Yes, both features add an element of difficulty to the workout. However, they each do it in a unique way and, therefore, add unique challenge. The resistance incorporates more muscle activity, turning a traditional cardio session into a cardio/strength blend. The incline or rise also activates quads, hamstrings and core muscles that are not typically engaged in a walking, elliptical or even a running workout. In essence, the Ascent Trainer allows users to train harder and train more muscles than a traditional elliptical can—all without sacrificing the comfort that an elliptical workout ensures.
The Ascent Trainer gives the body the variety it craves without leaving too much to chance. A lot of equipment manufacturers talk about incorporating user-defined motion to deliver this workout versatility. That certainly is an option, but it is one that puts a lot of responsibility on users, who have to consciously monitor their paths of motion to ensure that they maintain the workouts they think they want. If they daydream or lose focus, their workout could revert to something simpler, something less challenging, and ultimately something less effective. That squanders their time and delays results.
That is why the Ascent Trainer brings flexibility to the movement pattern without relying on a user-defined path of motion. That distinction is critical. The Ascent Trainer’s versatility enables users to vary their exercise workout-to-workout or even moment to moment, but it also ensures a level of consistency that would be lost if the motion were totally user-defined. Individuals do not have to focus on maintaining a climb or a certain stride length. They cannot default to a less strenuous, almost passive path. The Ascent Trainer lets them adjust their movement pattern and then maintain it as long as they like or recreate it over and over again. Users can focus on their effort and output and not on the shape of their ellipse.
A Clear Field of Vision - Ultra
To set our sights higher we had to lower our height stacks
Everyone has navigated a Byzantine weight rooms filled with arms, joints and handles protruding every which way. For many facilities, equipment placement is a puzzle, sight lines are nonexistent, and overall aesthetics fall by the wayside.
It’s a common problem, and Matrix has an uncommon solution: The Ultra Series.
Our industrial designers completely reimagined selectorized or single-station machines. In doing so, they streamlined forms and lowered the stack height to 48 inches across the series. The result was equipment that looks better in the weight room and a weight room that not only looks better but also works better, too.
Of course aesthetics were not the only improvement. Action Specific Grips, which are tailored to specific functions, reduce stress on contact points and make Ultra equipment more comfortable to use. Also, electronic rep counters simplify workout tracking. Users can adjust weight while seated, and integrated accessory storage gives them a place to stow water bottles, towels and other accessories.
It was a comprehensive process and absolutely everything was on the table. We challenged every assumption about what the machines should look like, how they should work and what improvements were possible. The result was something that overwhelmingly raised the bar and reconfirmed our belief that there is often a better answer. Sometimes we just have to dream it—and then build it—ourselves.