“Alexa, set my weights to 15 pounds,” I say, and in a split second, the dumbbells at my feet are 15 pounds. “Alexa, set my weights to five pounds.” And boom, they’re back down to five pounds. It feels like some sort of home-fitness wizardry.
Today, NordicTrack launches iSelect, a set of weights that can be adjusted in 5-pound increments, from 5 to 50 pounds, with the twist of a knob or an Alexa command. They’re the first-ever adjustable dumbbells that operate with voice commands. Users can use the weights for their own lifting routines, or follow along with weight-training programs offered by iFit, NordicTrack’s parent company, which offers online workout videos.
At $429, the weights are priced similarly to other adjustable dumbbells on the market, and are more compact than some bulkier competitors. The weights are available for purchase on Amazon starting today.
When the pandemic hit the United States, gyms shuttered and Americans bought exercise equipment to keep up their workouts at home. Between March and October 2020, the market for home-fitness gear doubled to $2.3 billion, as consumers invested in treadmills, exercise bicycles, and weights. When it comes to the dumbbells on the market, however, iFit product manager Ron Nielson felt there was a lot to be desired.
At gyms, there are often full racks of weights in a spectrum of sizes, allowing people to quickly switch weights during workouts and continually challenge themselves. But when buying weights for use at home, Nielson says that most people save money and space by buying adjustable weights. This usually involves a metal bar that comes with a few different-size weights that the user clamps on. “Changing out your weights takes time and interrupts your workout,” Nielson says. “And with only a few weights, you can’t keep challenging yourself to improve.”
So, Nielson and his team got to work trying to improve the home-weightlifting experience. With iSelect, they’ve created a sleek, rectangular device with two dumbbells in the center and around two dozen flat weights on each side. (The whole thing weighs 110 pounds.) Once you plug in iSelect, you can instantly change the weight using a knob in the middle, or with voice commands. To increase or decrease the weights, the dumbbell automatically adds or takes away the flat weights on either side thanks to a bar that mechanically clamps on these weights, attaching them securely.
I had a chance to test the iSelect weights a few days before they officially launched. Casey Gilbert, an iFit trainer who regularly appears in weight-training videos on the streaming platform, helped guide me through the process. I was surprised by how quickly iSelect was able to switch between weights, particularly compared to my home setup, where it takes me several minutes to change out weights on my adjustable dumbbells. By turning the knob on the iSelect, the weights would adjust in a split second, and I could pick them up to begin using immediately. When I used the voice command on Alexa, the weights would take a second or two to adjust. (Nielson says that Alexa processes commands faster the more you say them.) Gilbert says the voice commands are particularly useful when you’re in the middle of an exercise—say, doing jumping jacks to warm up—and you know you’re about to move into weighted sit-ups. “When you’re doing weight training, you want to keep your heart rate up throughout the workout,” says Gilbert. “This allows you to move on to your next exercise without skipping a beat.”
At home, when I’m too lazy to switch between weights during a workout, I sometimes just pick a medium-size weight that will work across several exercises. For instance, 20 pounds is my ideal weight for squats, while 10 pounds is my ideal weight for hammer curls. To avoid having to change out my weights, I might just set my weights to 15 pounds and use them throughout. According to Gilbert, this is common among people who use adjustable weights. “The problem is that you might strain your muscles by using weights that are too heavy, or not challenge yourself by using weights that are too light,” he says. “The benefit of iSelect is that you have the full spectrum of weights, which means you can keep pushing yourself over time.”
And cleverly, you can have Alexa learn which weights you prefer for particular exercises, so you don’t have to remember this information. In my case, I could say, “Alexa, set my weight for squats,” and iSelect would automatically set them to 20 pounds. And when I’m ready to go up to 25 pounds, I can update the information, so it’s ready to go the next time I work out.