By Kate Fratar
Catherine Betts is a lifetime athlete and currently upping her game with the launch of her own company, Betts Fit.
It began roughly three years ago when Betts filed her first patent and later moved back into her parents’ house in Piedmont to build the prototype, a cutting-edge sports bra designed to improve support and reduce possible pain or injury while training.
“My favorite comparison is really the running shoe,” said Betts in search of a comparable piece of athletic equipment.
Betts, a 2003 Piedmont High grad, ran track in high school but was better known as a vital part of the only PHS soccer team to win a North Coast Section championship.
She was recruited to play Div. I soccer at Oregon State, and later transferred to the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
A large portion of the video in her business launch, posted to the company’s website at BettsFit.com, was filmed at Witter Field. The video features Betts, a personal trainer, demonstrating a series of workout exercises in the Betts Fit bra.
Betts spent a year analyzing the designs of the current sports bra market, turning her parents’ basement into a laboratory, where she cut bras to pieces to better understand their material, fit and engineering.
“It was really important for me to have something that adjusted for all bodies,” said Betts of her goal.
Her experiments were guided by four years of courses in neuroscience, the study of nerves and especially how they affect learning or behavior, in finding solutions to the neck, shoulder and back pain associated with wearing a sports bra.
According to Betts, over 65 percent of women complain of discomfort during exercise due to excessive breast movement.
She eventually identified three key components for improving the comfort and functionality of sports bras.
“In order to maximize support, a lot of things need to come together,” Betts said.
The most advanced feature on the Betts Fit design is the patented corset compression that reduces the excess movement that can lead to ligament damage and neck and shoulder pain.
Betts also focused on improving the tension provided in the bottom band and alignment of the shoulder straps. Both pieces are important for maximizing support and relieving pressure on the trapezius muscles, located at the top of the shoulders, which can cause additional stress.
“I feel really excited and confident about my solution,” Betts said.
In addition to receiving a utility patent, which generally permits the owner to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention for up to 20 years of the patent date, Betts has also applied for a method patent, which would protect the process she used to arrive at her design.
Betts Fit is currently taking preorders from its website, BettsFit.com, for the $80 sports bra, which comes in two colors and cup sizes B to G.
The bra’s fabric is sourced from Italy, France and Austria, and a factory in China that works with sports bra companies throughout the world is on standby to start production once the manufacturer’s minimum order requirement is met.
“It is a very exciting time!” Betts said.