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Apus Sports – Mercury Olympic weights

We haven’t had any experience in designing products for the fitness industry when we started designing the Olympic weights for Apus Sports.


To start with, we had to get to know the users and their needs. The users were people who exercise in fitness clubs, as well as instructors and bodybuilders. We have conducted over twenty interviews with women and men who attend to the fitness clubs. We asked them how do they exercise and if there is something that makes using the weights currently available on the market uncomfortable in any way.


Aleksander Włodarczyk – a bodybuilder and personal trainer, was one of the most interesting people we have talked with. He gave us information about the needs of people who train with the weights and showed us some extra exercises that could be done with the plates. In addition, he told us how to properly warm up before a training.


What is worth pointing out is that the Olympic weights do not have to be used just as a plate on the barbell. They can also be used to warm-up, replacing dumbbells or kettles. Thanks to that we do not have to look for additional equipment in the gym. We can begin the warm-up with lighter weights and later add heavier ones. This will allow the muscles to warm up and the person will not gain an injury while training.


Our client is a fitness club, where the exploitation of the equipment is quite extensive so it uses up more quickly. After conducting customer surveys (with various fitness clubs) we learned that our customers need the high-quality polyurethane equipment known for its durability. This information changed the original assumption of the project, as Apus Sports originally wanted to produce the weights made out of rubber.


The research also showed that barbells which are in the clubs are mostly badly marked. That is why we designed colorful rims – each weight is assigned to a different color which is easily noticeable in the dark clubs interiors.


With a standard weight, without handles, it is possible to do only a few exercises, mostly on a barbell or on a machine. Our weights have the special handles which allow doing a dozen or so, basic exercises, similar to these with the dumbbells or kettles.


The competitive products often tremble on the barbell. Our weights are flattened so they touch each other and do not move. In addition, their flat form allows putting more of them on the barbell at the same time with the equally satisfying result.


The 10kg and 15kg weights have the same diameter but they differ in thickness. A similar solution was used in the weights of the second weight group of 20kg and 25kg. The plates placed on the barbell stick better to each other when they belong to the same weight group. This makes exercising easier because the handles are more ergonomic and allow to workout with both hands. With the same diameter of the weights, it is easier to pick up the barbell which is also more stable on the floor mat.


On the side of the weight, there is a colored line which informs the user about the weight of the plate. The applied wheels (graphic circles) are the elements of the psychological game. The user wants to gain more and more circles, what motivates him to practice with bigger and heavier weights.


The weights have specially designed handles so a person who exercises can practice in a position with hands placed side by side. In addition, we have created a special place for a pointing finger. It helps to execute swinging exercises properly. The grip of the hand is improved by the rough surface of the handle.


Designing the weights for Apus Sports allowed us to meet new people and to get to know the needs of this specific group of users we have not known so far.


The product must be made of high-quality materials if one wants to extend its longevity. Using weaker materials, apparently, cheaper in production is actually more costly to the customer as it often entails a greater number of complaints and leads to more often replacements.

Apus Sports – Kettlebell

Kettlebell from Apus Sports was designed with functional training improvement on our mind.

The first step was an ergonomic analysis of the way people grab kettlebell during their training. Observation and interviews with personal trainers, fitness club attendees, and competitor analysis was the best ground to start working at the first concepts.

Next step was modeling the weights, testing grip ergonomics and the shape of the kettlebell. Proportional scaling found out to be a great challenge.

Each Kettle is different and has a different shape. Each weight has been designed to feature a comfortable handle and make Kettle easily and safely operable. The Kettles have not been scaled in any way, only each one of the weights has been designed individually.

The biggest problem we faced with the Kettle, was that we had to begin with lower weight, i.e. 4kg, when designing it. With a small Kettle, we had to make the head considerably heavy, but we couldn’t do the same with the handle. It had to be practical for exercises and comfortable for pulling. The challenge we faced was compromising the optimum diameter of the handle (grip) and keep the correct weight of the Kettle. By taking mass from the Kettle’s head and creating a handle of a greater diameter, we would receive a more ergonomic handle. But the head weight had to be bigger to facilitate in doing exercises correctly. It enabled us to properly use the laws of physics influencing the Kettle.

If we want to effectively swing an object, the center of gravity must be situated quite far forward. This Kettle from Apus Sports is constructed in such a way. Additionally, owing to its droplet shape, its bottom is more flattened and its base is more stable. This makes it suitable, among others, for doing push-ups.

First prototypes with target materials and technology were the test to compare the shape, ergonomics and manufacture techniques with our ideas devised in SolidWorks. It found out that the Kettlebell was too thick covered with a vinyl coating. Material flooded all ergonomic shapes of the Kettlebell. We had to calculate those differences and prepare the 3D model the way it includes the thickness of the material.

The final project is the set of seven Kettlebells made of cast iron, covered in anti-slippery and resistant do mechanical damages vinyl coating. It is the basic equipment for every gym and fitness club.

Apus Sports – Strategy for brand and product development


For the Apus Sports brand – a producer of high-quality fitness equipment, we have created a strategy of brand development and marketing communication which is coherent with the product strategy, in which we have actively participated.


A complete visual identification of the Apus Sports brand was the result of the strategic actions. It included the logo and a series of ephemera, catalogs, product marking, videos and photo shoots.


Another area of Apus Sports’ strategic activity was taking part in the most prestigious fitness fair in Europe.


Creating the whole brand from scratch was the most challenging. All we had been given to work with was the “Apus Sports” name and the partnerships board’s deep level of commitment to the implementation of the actions.


Within less than 24 months, we created collections of brand new product designs and a complete scope of marketing and PR activities performed by our company.


Creating a complete offer of Apus Sports gym and fitness equipment from scratch, required a strong commitment.


The starting point were the expectations expressed by Apus Sports, concerning the types, the specifics and the features of the products.


Throughout the whole creative period, we cooperated closely with fitness trainers and rehabilitators. We have conducted extensive interviews with them and engaged them in ongoing consultations. They would assess the projects being developed and correct the prototypes being created on an ongoing basis.


The third, equally important group that influenced the final form of the designed gym & fitness products were users and gym owners. Their practical remarks enabled the designers to learn the full spectrum of expectations towards new products.


A whole line of fitness and gym equipment has been created as a result of the several months worth of research.  They have been well received not only by the society of expert trainers and rehabilitators but also juries of prestigious competitions. The SpaceBar barbell received the Gold Medal of the Poznań International Fair. The Helium vinyl dumbbells and the Mercury Olympic weight plates went into the finals of the Dobry Wzór 2015 competition.

Shaped by Mastersport


For the Mastersport brand – the leading manufacturer of strength training equipment in Poland, together with the Institute of Industrial Design we have prepared the launch strategy for a new, innovative product.


The strength training equipment from the Shaped line is intended both for women who regularly exercise at the gym, as well as beginners who want to get in shape.


For the purposes of the strategy, we have analyzed the results of the research conducted for us by Millward Brown which was focused on women who go to the gym and the needs of gym owners and managers as well as personal trainers.


The strategic analysis resulted in the concept of the Shaped name and brand philosophy.


Our studio has created a complete branding including the logo, ephemera, the manner of machine marking, the color scheme and material pattern books.


We have also created the marketing communication strategy which includes the guidelines for developing texts, photo shoots, and promotional videos.


The final element of the strategy was the User Experience layout and matrix of the electronic application related to the Shaped project, dedicated to the project.

Apus Sports – Space Bar

When we started designing the Space Bars, we watched a lot of videos from the body pump sessions to see how people exercise. It is important that these exercises are more a group practice rather than individual training.


We also talked with the class teachers to find out for what exercises the space bars can be used and how they can be used on the barbell.


What is interesting, the main users of space bars are women. But while designing the product, we wanted to create a form which could be used also by men, especially since the number of space bars fans among them is rapidly growing.


The Space Bars are designed in three different weights: 1.25kg, 2.5kg and 5kg. They can be assembled and clipped together on one another, so they do not move on the barbell.


Each of the Space Bar designed for Apus Sports has also an additional middle handle that is the innovative solution on a global scale, as it allows to perform other exercises such as swinging. The center of gravity is in the center of a palm and the weight is adjusted to both female and male hands. Additionally, when the weight is on the barbell, it does not roll and it is easy to pick it up out of the ground.


The rubber and colorful Space Bars differ in shape because the customer wanted to design other forms for rubber weights. The rubber version supposed to be cheaper in production and also in sales. But creating this type of space bar was more challenging because the rubber is much heavier than polyurethane, so when we poured it over weight, it was much heavier than the polyurethane one.


What distinguishes the Space Bar on the market among other products is the fact that it has three handles – two one the sides and one in the middle. This allows the user to do many more exercises, with two hands as well as with one hand, than other competitive products.