Smart dumbbells aren’t new in connected fitness, but today, NordicTrack is announcing a unique take on the product. The 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 five-pound increments. According to iFit, NordicTrack’s parent company, the dumbbells feature a “motorized weight selector” that enables 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 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, ostensibly for firmware upgrades and other support features. The dumbbells also come with their own rack, which is outfitted with a tablet holder so you can follow along with workouts from either iFit or whichever fitness app of your choice. The dumbbells can also be adjusted manually via a knob.
At this point, you might be wondering: what is the point of voice-controlled dumbbells? Aside from accessibility reasons, it boils down to speed. If you’ve ever followed along with a fitness app’s strength training class, you’re often given only 10-30 seconds in between sets. Many adjustable dumbbells work using a pin mechanism to attach or detach additional plates — meaning if you rush, you can wind up with a plate falling off mid-exercise. (True story: instead of hitting pause, I rushed while tweaking my adjustable dumbbells and ended up with a five-pound plate smacking me in the face during a chest press.) You also have to return the dumbbells to the rack each time to add or take off plates.
If the dumbbells can actually quickly and safely change weights, that’d 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 convenient, it still took a hot second for the electronic locking mechanism to secure the weights. In this case, you’d still have to contend with Alexa understanding your commands, good Wi-Fi, and background noise from whatever class you’re watching.
At $429, these are on the cheaper end of connected fitness equipment but are still a hefty investment for the average person. That said, dumbbell prices have been wonky ever since the start of the pandemic thanks to shortages and shipping delays. As far as adjustable weights go, options with a similar weight range can cost anywhere from $200 to over $500. A full dumbbell rack can cost a few hundred or go well into the thousands of dollars — and may take up much more space than you’d like in your home. Another factor to keep in mind is that you need an Alexa-enabled device to use the voice controls. If you don’t have already have one, that’s another purchase to tack on.
We’d have to review the NordicTrack iSelect Adjustable Dumbbells before we can definitively say how useful the voice-control feature is. But if you’re impatient, the dumbbells are available starting today at NordicTrack’s Amazon store.