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Hytro’s rise to prominence: From sewing machines in bedrooms to pro sport – and beyond

As the Hytro team closes out a breakthrough year serving Pro Sports teams and athletes with innovative ways to unlock the benefits of BFR, our founders sat down with the Coaching and Sports Science Director at Hinsta Performance and senior advisor to Hytro, Pete McKnight - to discuss the evolution of the company and its next steps.

Who are Hytro and how we serve pro sport

Since day one, Hytro has grown from an authentic foundation of insights, research, and personal relationships within elite professional sports.

This deep-rooted authenticity within competitive athletic environments is what led to the development of our game-changing innovation, and is often the key reason leaders like McKnight are drawn to work with the brand.

‘I came across the concept of BFR around 15 years ago while studying at Loughborough University. When I spoke with Warren and Raj, the whole opportunity excited me. Elite sports seemed the ideal place to start.’

Having done a little work with Blood Flow Restriction, McKnight was aware of the opportunity ‘conceptually’ and quickly saw the potential to not just ride a wave, but actually create an opportunity given the lack of options in the market at that time.

Dr Warren Bradley visiting a factory in Portugal

 

From founder Dr. Warren Bradley sewing prototype products in his spare bedroom to supplying the world’s biggest clubs with innovative BFR wearables, Hytro has been on a rapid journey since its inception in 2019.

‘We started Hytro with the principle of providing real, impactful solutions for athletes that have never really been available to them. BFR has been around for a long time, but what we wanted to deliver was a new way to use BFR, safely and conveniently,’ explained Bradley.

What became clear early on was that professional coaches and practitioners were hungry to unlock more from their athletes’ training and recovery. As most coaches already had an understanding of the principles of BFR, the mission was to explore new ways to apply Hytro BFR to unlock new competitive advantages.

‘Our professional sports backgrounds allowed us to use our networks to our advantage,’ said Bradley. ‘Bringing in Pete helped us to also expand into his network while giving the brand credibility.’

The more elite athletes that use Hytro, the more the company learns how vastly applicable its product is. Clubs began to use Hytro BFR for preparation work such as mobility, and also for pain modulation. When it proved successful, more followed. One boxer began to use Hytro BFR to simulate fatigue in training, helping him to refine his technique and execute skills while tired. The Belgian National Football Team went one step further by using Hytro BFR in the swimming pool to aid recovery at this year’s World Cup.

 

‘There are so many different demographics that can benefit from BFR,’ said co-founder Thiruchelvarajah.

‘BFR can be used to increase recovery and performance, ideal perhaps for those training towards a competitive goal. It can help you recover quicker, to go again, or even continue making gains in season. And then of course Blood Flow Restriction is widely recognised as a fantastic tool to rehab and rejuvenate more mature athletes, to keep them healthy and moving in later years.’

‘If we tried to do all things for all people then we’d fail. Instead, we had to sequence: to find our niche, our community, and go from there.

In working with our impressive coach and practitioner network early on, what started as an idea for aiding hypertrophy, quickly developed into an understanding of how extraordinary BFR could be for aiding the recovery of athletes in new and unique ways. ‘That taught us the importance and value of working with coaches during our product development.’

 

 

Working with coaches to authenticate the impact

Coaches have been of vital importance in spreading Hytro’s message. They see the product, realise its potential, and then introduce it to their athletes. ‘In pro sports, all athletes are looking for a competitive advantage,’ said McKnight. ‘It’s our job to show each sport the value of Hytro BFR within their context.’ That job becomes easier with a sport-specific coach. ‘Once athletes get their hands on the product they’re sold,’ said Bradley. ‘They get acute physical and cognitive feedback which shows them the product is working. The muscles become swollen and vascular, with slight sensations of throbbing and tingling when strapped in, signs that BFR is working. Upon releasing the BFR straps, they feel the blood flush through the joints and muscles through a warm-cold sensation. These are powerful signals that the process is working.

 

 

In an already congested performance and recovery marketplace, Hytro feels and performs like nothing else. And it isn’t just the sensations. While other products require long instruction manuals and specialist apps, Hytro athletes – who are often time-poor – can simply strap in and go.

Many people can recount the dawn of endless product-led training methods, such as base layers and compression wear, percussive massage devices, and cold and even light therapy.  Many of which have provided individual results for various athletes.  Bradley comments on this positively, understanding that no one athlete responds the same, and often personal preference comes into play; ‘but the special thing that we’ve created with Hytro is a product that can be used in tandem with other modalities.’

‘Hytro is a great addition to what’s already in place. If you want to do BFR before soft tissue work to warm up muscles and structural tissues, go for it.  If you want to start recovery on the bus home after a game, use Hytro and pick up further treatment later on.  You can add Hytro in seamlessly to improve the recovery outcomes and build a flexible set of tools for all recovery programs.’

McKnight commented ‘It is easier to serve some sports over others, such as rugby and football or other strength/power sports, but everyone wants and needs a competitive advantage. If you can contextualise BFR to the athlete, you can help anyone. Because the utility of Hytro is so broad, it is not a question of what sports or athletes may benefit most, but rather, simple and effective communication of the benefits within the right context.

 

 

Across the Hytro network, coaches are sharing not just performance markers, but anecdotal stories of improvement beyond just numbers on the screen. Subjective feedback includes a perception of reduced pain and muscle soreness and feeling ‘fresher’ to train, and we see this translate to better performance scores like jump height and better lower RPEs in training.

One of the most significant impacts has been the ability to take recovery sessions in more engaging environments, like the swimming pool, hotel rooms, or on the bus when travelling. Clubs like Everton are also using active recovery protocols to host team bonding moments whilst walking around the training grounds together at the end of a session.

‘If you can make training easier with the same output’ says Bradley ‘then why wouldn’t you?’.

 

The authentic buy-in from the coaching and practitioner community has meant that when people move from club to club, or from one sport to another, they often take Hytro BFR with them because they genuinely believe in the benefits of BFR and the ease of access and scalability that Hytro provides.

Thiruchelvarajah makes the point confidently that Hytro does not ‘pay to play’, if clubs or practitioners do not organically believe in BFR ‘then it’s okay to say that they are not a partner for us to work with.

‘We know from coaches that there’s a demand for simplicity. What we need to do is make sure we’re true to our roots of elite sports, scientific validity, and best practice,’ added Bradley. ‘That’ll serve us well as we go forward.’

 

Forward is exactly where Hytro is looking.

 

Looking to the future

‘The scale is vast,’ reiterated Thiruchelvarajah. ‘There’s the consumer (general fitness) market, then military, and medical. We’ve got BFR arm and leg sleeves in development and we’re always looking at ways of improving what we already have. Professional sport has played an important role, and in the future, it’ll allow us to expand into those other areas.’

And those other areas are not just in the UK. Hytro has global aspirations in the next 12 months, with the American market a key area to explore.  With the products already in use globally via Formula 1, Cycling, Rugby, and International football; it is easy to see why U.S. franchise sports are beginning to reach out proactively and enquire about Performance BFR themselves.

Early moves to expand into American Football (for example) have already begun, with such huge squad sizes and a natural love for strength and conditioning.  Being able to program on mass is key, and it’s impossible to give players the 1:1 support they may previously have needed with BFR devices, which is why Hytro has already proven to be an exciting conversation for many in this area.

 

The flexibility of Hytro’s application means that over time the team has consistently learned and innovated with help and insights from club partners. For example, an insight around BFR for shoulder preparation in cricket bowlers can be taken to other sports such as swimming or baseball.  Bradley explains how ‘When we enter a new sport, we take the insights and learnings we’ve compiled over time and translate these findings within a new context. By working together with teams to continually build and refine our knowledge base, we ultimately unlock more unique benefits that are shared with our networks as we scale’.

 

With the recent demand for not just Hytro’s product, but also a presence at industry events and appearances in sports media podcasts and publications, the acceleration of the brand’s journey shows no signs of slowing down.

In a world of ever-expanding data, Hytro’s ‘analogue’ simplicity stands out from the crowd. ‘The wider market trend we’re seeing is for the introduction of new digital wearables that create more data points,’ said Thiruchelvarajah. ‘I wonder at what point consumers stop caring about all that data? While there is absolutely a place for the right data for the right situation, simplicity in design and use is paramount in a product and that’s exactly what Hytro embodies – no wires, no faff, just results.’

 

Whilst pro sport remains the focus, for now, Thiruchelvarajah is very keen to quickly partner with medical experts to explore how Hytro can improve the lives of millions of people worldwide with BFR wearables. The benefits of BFR are well documented for rehabilitation after injury or surgery, and for muscle and tissue-wasting diseases.

 

Hytro, by patented design, is the only safe and scalable BFR device on the planet that overcomes cost and complexity barriers other devices have posed’ Bradley adds, ‘having a tangible impact on the planet and people’s lives really motivates me, and is something I’m really excited to explore.’

 

Read more about Hytro’s impressive journey in our From strength to strength: world-leading coaches, trainers and practitioners back Hytro to bring new muscle to professional sport journal or to speak our team about a Hytro demonstration via the button below.

 

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