TYR CXT-1 Trainer

The better choice for comfortable, high performance cross-fit sessions.

Project Timeline

•  12 months
•  Launch: July 2022


•  Design & development
•  Product strategy
•  Quality Control
•  Special order art direction
•  User Testing


•  3D modeling
•  3D printing
•  3D Scanning


•  User need for comfortable footwear that can be worn throughout the day, while providing the structure necessary for performative success. 


In 2021, TYR expanded into the Cross-fit space, led by my development of the CXT-1 trainer. This is a comfortable sneaker with performance features designed to help enthusiasts beat their CrossFit goals.
To lead the design of this new expansion from concept to production, I handled 4 areas: research & strategy, defining product branding, development process, and brand partnership recommendations. The go to market timeline of 10 months was requested; 6 months less than the industry standard of 16 months. With this compressed timeline, I adopted more agile concepts from Feature Driven Development (FDD) and Kanban, took on product ownership to allow decisions to be made quickly while keeping others in alignment and aware of changes. Early in this process, success in translating design vision and product styling to the team earned me a promotion to senior designer. With this added responsibility, I solved a few high risk challenges with materials and manufacturing and found several cost cutting strategies for better margins.
While designing for version 2.0, I was able to take on a more strategic role by creating product line and trend presentations for executives with recommendations for new products and iterating to a cohesive department vision and more detailed product decks for sales professionals. Additionally, guiding the team on a cohesive brand styling and developing an excel model of product lead time data to improve product planning roadmaps by 50%.
The product launch in July 2022 was a first for the company and I got this product and helped two other shoes by the team get on the shelf on time, in 19 total skus. Over the following year, many colorways sold out in pre-orders making everyone happy with the success.


Product Strategy:

In following with the TYR way, we went after competitors boldly. The basis of this came from researching the market, competitor product, and talking to consumers.
Looking at the market, many shoes in this category focus highly on performance and innovations, with comfort as an afterthought. The opportunity in the market is to focus more on comfort than the competitors.
Additionally, for the average consumer, one long term trend has been the move towards all-in-one comfortable options as opposed to top notch performance options. As illustrated in the chart by Statistica Market Insights, comfort is the top buying criteria.
Statista Market Insights
Target Level
User Need
  • Heel stability when offsetting their center of gravity.
  • A grippy, rigid rubber sole design positioned towards the rear of the shoe.
  • Lateral movement stability.
  • A medium stiffness side rail and forefoot structure.
  • Sprint agility, without clunkiness.
  • A semi-flexible forefoot with deep flex grooves and a 9mm drop to bridge the gap between running sets and lifting sets.
  • Rope climb ability.
  • Minimize designs along the medial and lateral sides, reinforce stitching, and create a slight mid foot arch for added rope traction.
  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Lightweight upper material with an engineered breathable hole design.
  • Smooth wall glides
  • An extended wrap-around to allow sliding on a non natural-rubber material.
  • Comfort
  • Medium stiffness midsole, foam padding, and a grippy toe guard for burpee protection.
  • Functional
  • Gritty
  • Touch of classic
  • Alterative
  • Repeat Patterning
  • "Lone Wolf" athlete


Typically, my initial sketches simply seek to understand the overall form in basic shapes and through orthographic and exploded views. As I begin to understand the ideal form 3-dimensionally, the lens become much more whimsical in nature.  
Following sketching, 2D designs are prepared for tech packs. Below is the final version of the 2D design following updates to initial samples, to more closely follow the shape of the approved model. After initial approvals, it was optimized for color updates for additional skus, which saved several work hours.
In addition, to ensure accurate design of the rubber outsole and minimize factory revisions, I modeled the side rail and sole in SolidWorks.  
Documents for sourcing requests, initial and final techpacks, design updates, artwork alignments, and color requests were all used to measure correctness. Color correctness became most important for "standard" colors and colors that extended to other styles for them to sit as a family. Thinking ahead to how certain materials would take color and accounting for that was one strategy, as well as leaning on the factory to be more proactive in the quality control process. Clear directions and communication, despite language barriers was paramount.

Initially, there were several samples per style and after some fine tuning, standard brand colors typically only required one sample and only difficult colorways required more than one sample.    
Frequent testing provided lots of feedback and data to make informed decisions and staggering the exposure based on the project stage allowed us to manage risk.  
After approving designs and handing products off to the PM, I delivered technical copy for marketing to use on the web and reviewed their visual representations to ensure key features were accurately captured.  


Many issues were solved simply by updating the pattern and making other dimensional edits. A few others were solved by changing the material composition to achieve the desired functional benefit. Two critical issues, however, were not apparent in early, less functional samples until after moulds were opened and further down the line.
01  -  HEEL RAKE
Early samples did not use the final heel construction or proper foam. This was often to reduce material wastage in the iterative phase and due to the fact they were made by hand by one person as opposed to on an assembly line. Once getting a sample with actual materials, it became apparent that the rake was ever so slightly aggressive, causing serious irritation on achilles of testers who had a more pronounced achilles. To accommodate different types of achilles without completely changing the pattern that has otherwise been successful, we used foam to fill the heel cavity--which made it more plush and comfortable.
Testing was performed throughout the process and was graded from internal to external to protect the brand reputation as kinks were improved. The factory, the team, and executives tested the shoes, but it was not until we had a semi-pro athlete test the shoes that we discovered a critical point of failure. The problem was that there wasn't enough surface area on this component for sufficient glue strength. A few short months to go, working with the engineer, we updated the dimensions to the mould to improve the gluable surface area and solved the issue in time for the launch. This only became apparent when testing with a user that was able to push the product far beyond baseline functionality.
  • Test on all different kinds of people even if they are not the target market. Differences in body dimenionsions may teach a lot about the ergonomics of the product.
  • The benefits from testing often and early cannot be understated but also important is to have a wide enough pool to look at a normal distribution of feedback. A testing community is something I recommended that the company invest in.
  • It's okay to use the slipstream to propel forward; not everything needs to be revolutionary.
  • There's more than one way to build a product:
  • Some companies are more product focused like Microsoft. They put the product out at the agreed on date whether it is perfect or not--and then iterate with updates. Use the market to validate the idea.
  • Some companies are more customer focused like Apple. They with make sure to get it right at the start and will push the release date if it is not ready. Validate the idea internally through testing.
  • It is helpful to understand which way a company leans.

Art Direction

As part of the bold market entry strategy, there were partnerships every few months with companies and individual athletes. This part of the process involved guiding clients through the material picking and trend pitches, then recommending a style that embodies what they were looking for. At the same time, the design needs to be sellable for TYR, so guiding the client towards designs that are also advantageous for TYR was paramount. This is also where development was really able to shine as I could experiment with color, material, and finish.

Photos by TYR

Beyond Development:

In doing retro and compiling lead time data for 12months and reviewing the roadmap, I found an opportunity to improve the planning accuracy by 50%. This model broke down the timelines of a core, core+, seasonal, and heat style and found clear variations depending on the model. As such, development dates can be better estimated based on how many of each style are needed by X date. Additionally, certain projects now warranted an accept/ reject process depending on where they fal n the timeline. With timeline risk transparent to everyone, better decisions can be made with regards to timeline and resources.
I also collaborated with another senior designer to develop v2 of this shoe, which will be on shelves June 2024.