At most, we’ve seen sneaker shops provide treadmills attached to video games or small patches of floor space devoted to in-store test runs. But Adidas found a way to make trying on a pair of new sneakers so much more physically engaging: the brand’s pop-up shop in Manhattan, devised along with Finish Line, had visitors go through a series of live challenges in order to test the recently released Ultraboost 19 series.

How did the interactive shoe trial work? The 19 is a 3D-knitted shoe that integrates the much lauded energy-returning Boost technology. To provide visitors with a chance to try out the enhancements, Harley & Company turned a former gallery space in Chelsea into a temporary playground, where they devised a series of steps meant to create a live environment that pushes both sneaker and wearer to the extreme.

For example, to test both their mental flexibility and the shoe’s flexibility, visitors had to go through a maze full of dead ends that could only be solved via spatial thinking – a promoter of neural activity that is linked to the ability to manage uncertainty. On top of that, the only way to cross a sea of yellow balls was to ace the balancing act needed to walk through a narrow beam in the centre.

And the giant seesaw? The off-scale playground staple required coordination and communication to use, while also allowing users to gauge the flexibility of the sole – but beyond the physics, it’s certainly about fun.

The last part of the tour asked visitors to jump as high as possible to catch an odd-shaped future reading in the ceiling – testing the sneaker’s response to impact, but also getting a glimpse of their upcoming fortunes.

The convenience of trying a sneaker at home and, returning it if needed at no cost, is quite appealing. Nevertheless, live experiences such as this pop-up make the distinguishing elements of high-performance shoes and the science behind them much more memorable – in every sense of the word.