Technology

NordicTrack will now let you scream at smart dumbbells

Smart dumbbells aren’t new to connected fitness, but today, NordicTrack announces a unique product experience. NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells are voice-controlled weights that work with Amazon Alexa. As in, you can now ask Alexa to adjust how heavy your dumbbells are instead of having to do it yourself.

The dumbbells can be electronically adjusted between five and 50 pounds in increments of five pounds. According to iFit, the parent company of NordicTrack, the dumbbells feature an “automatic weight limiter” that allows users to quickly change the weight of the device. For Alexa integration, you can ask the voice assistant to set a specific weight, gain or lose weight, or create a preset weight for specific exercises. You can create presets for 15 popular dumbbell movements: biceps curls, upper shoulder press, lateral shoulder raise, front shoulder raise, triceps extension, bent row, chest press, squat, deadlift, lunge, lateral lunge, Wood chipper, chest fly, reverse fly, and bouncer.

While an iFit subscription is not required to use dumbbells, weights do come with a free one-month family membership. You also need a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection, ostensibly for firmware upgrades and other support features. The dumbbells also come with their own rack, which is fitted with a tablet stand so you can keep track of workouts from iFit or any fitness app of your choice. The dumbbells can also be manually adjusted via a knob.

You can also adjust the weights manually via a knob.
Photo: iFit

At this point, you may be wondering: What is the point of sound-controlled dumbbells? Regardless of the reasons for access, it boils down to speed. If you have ever followed a strength training class for a fitness app, you are often only given 10-30 seconds between sets. Many adjustable dumbbells work by using a pin mechanism to attach or separate additional plates—meaning that if you lunge, you can end up with a plate falling off in the middle of your workout. (True story: Instead of pausing, I rushed while tweaking the adjustable dumbbells and ended up with a five-pound plate that hit me in the face while chest presses.) You also have to put the dumbbells back on the rack each time to add them or take off the plates.

If dumbbells could actually change weights quickly and safely, that would solve one of the biggest problems with adjustable dumbbells. However, other connected weights offer similar promises with mixed results. I tested JaxJox’s Smart Adjustable Kettlebell, and while it was comfortable, it still took a hot second for the electronic locking mechanism to secure the weights. In that case, you still have to deal with Alexa to understand your commands, good Wi-Fi, and background noise from whatever class you’re watching.

At $429, these are cheaper than connected fitness equipment but still a huge investment for the average person. However, dumbbell prices have been volatile since the beginning of the pandemic thanks to shortages and delays in shipping. As far as adjustable weights go, options with a similar weight range can cost anywhere from $200 to over $500. A complete dumbbell stand can cost a few hundred or even thousands of dollars—and it might take up a lot more space than you want in your home. Another factor to consider is that you need an Alexa-enabled device to use the voice controls. If you don’t already have one, this is another purchase you should follow.

We’ll have to review the NordicTrack iSelect adjustable dumbbells before we can decide how useful the Voice Control feature will be. But if you’re impatient, dumbbells will be available starting today at NordicTrack’s Amazon store.

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