Our proposed Nike Grind solution is aligned with the idea of creating high-quality surfaces designed to help athletes, but works with a less traditional sport than the ones that Nike Grind already works with. We want to use Nike Grind materials for spaces designed for parkour and free running athletes.
Parkour and free running are sports in which an athlete moves through an urban setting as quickly as possible without letting physical barriers stop them. This means they do more than just run. These athletes can run, climb, jump and balance throughout their route; they move in creative and often extreme ways.
These sports can be practiced anywhere, but with their rising popularity specialized gyms have appeared. These gyms simulate the urban environment the athletes prefer with wood and concrete structures. To offer protection for the athletes these structures use polyurethane and similar shock absorbing materials to cushion drops and falls. This is done in order to prevent the too common injuries that come with practicing this kind of sports.
Another problem with current parks is the use of some metal structures that won’t last forever, but at the same time they are welded and assembled with permanent unions, which makes more complicated the transportation and material reuse once the structures are not functional anymore.
Our proposal takes the current concept of a parkour/free running gym and enhances it with Nike Grind surfaces to keep the cushioning surface while maintaining the feeling of falling on a hard surface as it would be on a real urban setting.
We propose taking this wood and concrete structures and replacing them when possible with a structure fully built with a Grind surface and to cover them with it when not. By using these surfaces we could make the experience of moving in a gym as close as possible to the experience on a real urban setting.
This also aligns with Nike's approach to sports. Its famous motto, 'just do it', refers to practicing sports for the sake of it. No need to give a reason, just do it. At the same time one of Nike's main campaigns today is 'Nike Go' which invites to put on a pair of tennis shoes and begin running wherever you want and however you want. This philosophy is really similar to what parkour and freerunning are about.
This kind of gym also opens the possibility of taking it outside. Most of the surfaces that have been developed with Nike Grind are made to be used outdoors as much as indoors. Just as skate parks are available in public places, gyms could be built on similar spaces giving athletes a safe (and already available) space to practice and people who want to get into one of these sports a safe place to start.
One of the main axes of the IDEO challenge is to produce ideas that work in a circular economy. These gyms would be created with Nike Grind surfaces which use ground material scraps as raw material. The way these are manufactured allow for them to be ground again and again when they finish their lifetime. Also the structures on the gym could be built as blocks with disassembly in mind so they could be easily moved around or replaced if necessary. This might also help making it more attractive, one area of the gym was planned to be modular, with a periodical change of some structures, taking advantage of the grind materials, for a new seasonal experience with “new environments” to challenge people.
But why is this a project that works for Nike? It is a project that represents social, economical and environmental responsibility by generating a space where young people can practice a sport, its raw material it's sourced from the waste generated by other products, and it’s a model that could be replicated in almost any space.