Taylor McHugh, 16, trains with XDriffts to improve his basketball skills.
The popular, as-seen-on-TV product called the Perfect Pushup doesn’t seem so flawless to Claudy Abranchess. The Belgian-born trainer, who’s the men’s strength coach at the Northern Virginia Sportsplex in Chantilly, likes that the Perfect Pushup’s rotating handles allow users to protect their wrists, but he doesn’t think the design is particularly versatile for other exercises.
He also has a beef with Gliding Discs, which let users slide between positions as though they’re on ice (seriously engaging their core muscles in the process). They keep users’ wrists flat on the ground, potentially causing joint pain, and preventing them from exercising at their full range of motion.
So Abranchess decided to tinker until he came up with a device that had the benefits of both, with none of the drawbacks. The result is the XDrifft ($90 for two, Xdrifft.com) — that’s short for “extreme drift” but with an extra “f” thrown in to get a unique domain name.
“It’s a handle mounted on a platform that swivels on top of a gliding disc,” explains Abranchess, who courted his wife, Kristen, while developing the design four years ago.
“One of our date nights was writing the patent together,” she says, noting that as a trainer, she’s also fallen for her husband’s product. She’s particularly fond of the details that make it multi-purpose, such as indents that help your feet stay put if you’re using it to work your lower body.
The handles come off and can change orientation depending on whether you’re gripping it with your hands or feet. And each one comes with a cover for the base — kind of like a cloth shower cap — that helps it move smoothly on hard surfaces. (The basic model is better for carpeting.)
Claudy Abranchess invented the XDrifft.
What it does depends on what you want, says Abranchess. Beginners start on their hands and knees, with just one hand on a single XDrifft that they can push forward, to the side or in a circle. They can progress by holding XDriffts in both hands and performing facedown chest flys or alternating pull-downs (reach forward with one arm, and then pull back). It’s harder if you get up on your toes — and nearly impossible if those toes are balancing on another XDrifft that you’re pulling repeatedly into your chest. Another option is to stand up and place one foot on an XDrifft, then use it to lunge, which tests balance as well as strength.
Abranchess’ concept made it to market last summer. He started by targeting university coaches before promoting XDrifft to the general public, and it’s already at several schools, including Georgetown and Virginia Tech. He’s pleased to have already gotten positive feedback, particularly from athletes going through rehab who find the handles easier to hold onto than balls. “Patients have more control, so this is safer,” he says. “And balls aren’t rolling all over the place.”
He has found his invention has also been a boon for the younger athletes who come to the Northern Virginia Sportsplex. Parents are often nervous about their kids lifting weights or sustaining injuries by putting pressure on their joints, but they don’t need to worry about XDrifft, Abranchess says.
Mark Sutto, a 20-year-old soccer player in the Washington Premier League who’s been working with Abranchess for three years, got one to keep at home. And his dad can’t get enough of it.
“He loves it because it takes pressure off his back,” says Sutto, who calls the XDrifft “my secret weapon.” It won’t be a secret much longer.