NordicTrack now lets you scream at its smart dumbbells

Smart dumbbells aren’t new to smart health connected fitness. But the NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells are voice-activated weights that work with Amazon Alexa. In other words, you can now ask Alexa to adjust the weight of your dumbbells; instead of having to do it yourself.

How NordicTrack Smart Dumbbells Work

The dumbbells can be adjusted electronically. According to iFit, NordicTrack’s parent company, the dumbbells feature a “motorized weight shifter” 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 even create a preset weight for specific exercises. You can create presets for 15 common dumbbell movements; bicep 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.

You don’t need an iFit membership to use the dumbbells. But the weights come with a one-month free subscription. You also need a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection; apparently for firmware updates and other support functions. The dumbbells also come with their own stand. It’s equipped with a tablet holder so you can track your workouts from iFit; or the fitness app of your choice. The dumbbells can also be adjusted manually using a wheel.

How NordicTrack Smart Dumbbells Work

Is it really useful?

At this point, you might be wondering what the point of voice-activated dumbbells is. Apart from accessibility reasons, it comes down to speed. If you’ve ever taken a strength training class from a fitness app, you often only have 10-30 seconds between sets. Many adjustable dumbbells work using a pin mechanism to attach or detach additional plates. Which means that if you rush, a plate can fall off in the middle of the exercise. You should also put the dumbbells back on the rack each time you add or remove plates.

If dumbbells could actually change weight quickly and safely, it would solve one of the biggest problems with adjustable dumbbells. However, other smart health connected dumbbells make similar promises with mixed results. I tested the JaxJox Smart Adjustable Kettlebell, and while it was convenient, it still took a good second for the electronic locking mechanism to secure the weights. In this case, you still need Alexa to understand your commands, good Wi-Fi, and low background noise from the course you’re watching.

NordicTrack’s smart dumbbells are a bit pricey

At $429, these devices are at the cheaper end of smart health connected fitness equipment; but remain a heavy investment for ordinary mortals. That said, dumbbell prices have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic; due to shortages and shipping delays. When it comes to adjustable weights, options with a similar weight range can cost between $200 and $500. A full rack of dumbbells can cost a few hundred or several thousand dollars; and can take up much more space than you want in your health home. Another factor to keep in mind is that you need an Alexa-enabled device to use voice commands. If you don’t already have one, that’s another add-on purchase.

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