Smart dumbbells are not new to connected fitness, but today NordicTrack is announcing a unique take on the product. The NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells are voice-activated 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 five pound increments. According to NordicTrack’s parent company, iFit, the dumbbells have a “motorized weight selector” that allows users to quickly change the weight of the device. As for the Alexa integration, you can ask the voice assistant to set a specific weight, increase or decrease the weight, or create a preset weight for specific exercises. You can create presets for 15 common dumbbell moves: biceps curls, overhead shoulder press, lateral shoulder raises, front shoulder raise, triceps extension, bent-over row, chest press, squat, deadlift, lunge, lateral lunge, wood chop, chest fly, reverse fly and renegade row.
While an iFit subscription is not required to use the dumbbells, the weights come with a free one-month family membership. You also need a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection, supposedly for firmware upgrades and other support functions. The dumbbells also come with their own rack, which comes equipped with a tablet holder, so you can track workouts from iFit or any fitness app of your choice. The dumbbells can also be adjusted manually via a button.
At this point, you might be wondering: What’s the point of voice-activated dumbbells? Accessibility reasons aside, it comes down to speed. If you’ve ever taken a fitness app’s strength training class, you often only get 10-30 seconds between sets. Many adjustable dumbbells use a pin mechanism to attach or detach additional plates — meaning if you rush, you could end up with a plate that falls off your body halfway through the workout. (True story: Instead of hitting pause, I rushed as I adjusted my adjustable dumbbells and ended up with a five-pound plate hitting me in the face during a chest press.) You also have to bring the dumbbells back to the bottom each time. rack to add or take off plates.
If the dumbbells can really change weight quickly and safely, that would solve one of the biggest problems with adjustable dumbbells. However, other connected weights make similar promises with mixed results. I tested JaxJox’s smart adjustable kettlebell and while it was handy, it still took a hot second for the electronic locking mechanism to hold the weights. In this case, you would still be dealing with Alexa understanding your commands, good Wi-Fi and background noise of whatever class you’re watching.
At $429, these are on the cheaper side of connected gym equipment, but still a hefty investment for the average person. That said, dumbbell prices have been shaky since the start of the pandemic thanks to shortages and shipping delays. As for adjustable weights, options with a similar weight range can cost anywhere from $200 to over $500. A full barbell rack can cost a few hundred or run into the thousands of dollars — and can take up a lot more space than you’d like at home. Another factor to keep in mind is that you need an Alexa device to use the voice control. If you don’t already have one, that’s one more purchase to redo.
We would have to review the NordicTrack iSelect adjustable dumbbells before we can say definitively how useful the voice control feature is. But if you’re impatient, the dumbbells are available from NordicTrack’s Amazon store starting today.