Hello Friends. Raquel and I truly hope you are all doing well in these challenging times.
At FORWRD Training we are working hard to move forward in this new environment. We are thankful to our amazing members who stuck with us as we transitioned to virtual classes. The story I want to share with is about a tool i created that some students at FORWRD have been using in their training. As the inventor of this new training tool, this is my opportunity to tell you the story of the Strength Tank and how we hope to use it to help FORWRD Training continue to share our unique approach to physical training. Gather round, for product development story time.
My background prior to starting FORWRD Training with Raquel in 2017 was in new product development at Spectrum Brands in Middleton, WI. I was responsible for the development of products such as these beauties:
In addition to Starting FORWRD Training with Raquel i also started working for my Grandparent’s manufacturing company in my home town of Clinton, WI. Let me introduce you to Custom Manufacturing, Midwest’s Leader in Trail Bridges and Wetland Boardwalks and the manufacturer of the Strength Tank.
My Grandparents Pete and Lavonne started Custom after the business grew out of Pete’s father’s Blacksmith shop in town. In 1964 they started Custom Welding, which is now Custom Manufacturing and Quality Tanks, two separate businesses. The Strength Tank comes from my exposure to the Quality Tanks where i help with product development and engineering. Tank manufacturing was the first business that Custom Welding had back when they started. Painted or galvanized, they are used for storing air and water and come in many shapes and sizes. You could buy a Compressed Air Storage Tank with fill hose from McMaster Carr if you ever need mobile air to fill up a tire. These are very handy if you have a trailer or camper.
So, A part of Raquel’s training approached required using a stick or bar to help with alignment feedback and form. This simple tool was used from the begging to act as a place to grip, heal lift, and alignment guide. About a year after i started the FORWRD Training program i was really seeing the benefits. The increase aliment and mobility from Alignergy and body weight Strength workouts were having me feeling good. The recovery training was also helping me loosen tight joints. After this year of intensive body weight training, I was on track to start adding weight.
This search for added weight lead to the creation of the first Strength Tanks. Raquel is great at Kettle bells and taught me a few things, but i always found them to be comfortable and/or unstable. We didn’t have room at our small studio space for an Olympic weightlifting setup, nor is that the focus of FORWRD Training. That had me poking around on the internet looking at alternative weight options. As I was moving tanks around at Custom one day and the vision of a long tank with a nice handle popped into my head. I quickly drew one up around what is was possible to make with what i had on hand and the first 2 Strength Tanks were manufactured.
These first tanks were introduced to the gym and they started being used right away, but not for the reason i had intended. Students were using the tank to provide relief to wrist pressure and to elevate the push up to make it easier to focus on form. Then it was being used as weight for dead lift and squats as well as presses for those first transitioning to weights. The handle of the tank was able to replicate the function of the stick, helping to correct alignment and form to perform safe movements. The hanging weight of the tank also provide an additional feedback point as the tank hung against the body and the extra weight was nice
While my new invention was proving to be a useful tool, there were some parts of the design that needed improvement. The grip width was too narrow, the diameter of the handle smaller than other weight training tools. Plus the plug in the end was too small. I made these changes and decided to see what they would cost to manufacture at a limited quantity. I received some mechanical design support from my friend Wayne at i3 Product Development in Sun Prairie. The bending of the new handle design was not something we were able to do in house, but luckily in a past life as a Hydraulic and Pneumatic System engineer for Oshkosh Defense, I knew where to get some tubes bent. I reached out to an old associate Dave at Bent Tube in Green Bay and we got a small quantity of the new handles on order.
The new handle had a larger 1.25″ Diameter and an increase in the grip width to 32″. The space between the handle and the tank was enlarged to be compatible with smart watches and fitness trackers. The port on the end was enlarged to make it easier to add weight. Being a Dudebro, I also decided to make an 8″ tank since bigger and heavier is always better, right? Actually after building them the 6″ size is just right. I’d rather have a smaller 4″ size, which i’ll make the next chance i get.
It took a while for everything to come together and fit it into production, but eventually a small production run was manufactured with the new design. These tanks showed up the the gym (and my garage) just before the shutdown. Like many gyms we had to close our in person training , which was and still is appropriate given the circumstances. We quickly cancelled our enrollment period and transitioned our members to virtual classes. We loaned out a lot of our equipment to help facilitate at home training. This new environment has forced FORWRD Training to adapt. We are lucky to have such loyal members and the ability to adapt quickly since we are still in our start up phase. We hope the the Strength Tank can be a tool to help us adapt our business so we can continue to operate and grow to share our physical training approach with more students.
We have a vision of what this new virtual and online FORWRD Training will look like and are working hard to get everything ready. We are thankful for Eric and iPress here in Madison for helping us out getting the systems in place for this to work through our website. He’s the one who helped get the online store in place so quickly.The priority is on getting that all up and running as soon as we can with the Foundations Courses and Virtual Membership. However, once that is done we plan on working on creating a strength tank training course. We hope that this tool, which is exclusive to FORWRD Training, coupled with the online training can help FORWRD grow and recruit new students.
Thank you for reading the story of the Strength Tank thus far. I have around 20 units of each size sitting on pallets in my garage. While we focus on getting everything operational and getting the Foundations Courses ready, i want to get more of these tools out in the hands of students so i can get the feedback needed to finalize the design. If you are interested in purchasing one of these, we have a website set up just for that. Please use discount code TANK at checkout for a discount as a thank you for your interest in this project. For now, Madison Area Drop off or Pick up at the gym only. Please leave or comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you aren’t interested in a tank, but still want to support FORWRD Training, buy a Sticker!