Flying across time zones can create tiredness in travellers, which in turn can result in a less than 100% performance in a morning meeting. Generally though, while that groggy traveller might not give the most invigorating input at a meeting, with a little coffee, all the key points can be delivered. However, substitute a morning meeting for a performance as a professional sportsperson, and no amount of coffee is going to have them performing at the physical level required.
Aircraft interior elements such as lie-flat beds and cabin humidification can certainly help travelling sportspeople feel rested during flight, but Nike has gone a step further in commissioning a design for the ‘Athlete’s Plane’. Seattle-based Teague studio was tasked with creating the interior design, for which it explored the effects of air travel on professional athletes, using Nike’s extensive contact book of industry experts in sleep research, professional and collegiate coaches, team physicians and former athletes. This knowledge was implemented to create an interior intended to preserve peak performance by addressing the effects of air travel on the body’s natural rhythms – in short, a ‘complete training room in the sky’.
Naturally, the Athlete’s Plane offers lie-flat seating (left), though it is larger than usual to offer comfort to the larger sportsperson, whether a broad NFL fullback or a tall NBA center, and it is linked with sleep strategies to maximize physical readiness. Where the design really innovates is in the features designed to maximize performance, readiness and recovery, both pre- and post-game.
Pre-game, as well as the benefits of the seats, special equipment designed to optimize circulation and promote healing has been specified, including a nutrition zone (right), massage tables and a shower room. To ensure the mind as well as body is ready for the game ahead, onboard spaces for key mental activities have been created, with a particular emphasis on film study, so players and managers can review game footage.
Following the game, if the opposition was particularly tough, players will again appreciate the massage areas, as well as the ‘plug into plane’ compression sleeves, which ice sore muscles. The seats even incorporate biometrics and analysis features to accelerate injury diagnosis and treatment. Should that treatment be painful, resting passengers will be grateful for the zoned cabin configuration, which confines any yelps or howls to the treatment rooms.
As Philipp Steiner, Teague’s creative director said of the concept, “Air travel often hinders athletic performance due to the impact on physical, physiological and cognitive functions. When professional athletes travel across multiple time zones their team is statistically more likely to lose – the Athlete’s Plane essentially levels the playing field.”