Great for working out at home

Work(out) From Home is a weekly column where we review smart fitness machines in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Thanks to technology, there are still plenty of ways to exercise if your gym is closed. 

Saves space • Easy to set up and use • Classes are challenging • Great for small homes • No subscription fee for workouts

App is a bit unintuitive • There aren’t many classes on the app • especially for beginners • The kettlebell takes a while to sync • Expensive

The JaxJox KettlebellConnect makes it easy to switch between weights in the middle of a workout and doesn’t take up much space.

When my gym shut down because of the coronavirus, I knew I had to improvise. The first device I tried during my quarantine: the JaxJox KettlebellConnect, an adjustable kettlebell with rotating weights that connects to your phone with an app.

Rather than having to manually change the weights on your kettlebell, the JaxJox does it for you in few seconds.

At $229 it’s a bit pricey (compared to standard kettlebells), but there’s more to it than just the equipment. Using the app, you can track your progress and follow along to guided workouts

And let me tell you, these workouts are intense. Like, they kicked my butt each time. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many beginner options. And with a starting weight of 12 pounds, I wish there was a lighter option for my noodle arms. Still, it’s compact, easy use, and the workouts are effective. 

Simple setup, intuitive design

It's compact enough that you can really place it anywhere in your home.

It’s compact enough that you can really place it anywhere in your home.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

The KettlebellConnect consists of a shell, the base, five weights, and a USB cable with an adapter.

The kettlebell itself packs a gyroscope and an accelerometer to track your movement, and features a wide, comfortable handle. 

I do wish there was a rubber coating over the handle and the rest of the kettlebell. Mostly because I have fragile arms that bruise very easily. 

I could also sometimes hear the weights rattling inside whenever doing exercises like kettle swings and squats. While they’re definitely secure in there, it sometimes made me nervous that I’d accidentally swing one of the weights right into my TV. 

Meanwhile, the base features an LCD display that shows its current weight with two buttons to increase or decrease the weight. 

The options increase by increments of six. As mentioned before, the shell itself is already 12 pounds but you can cycle all the way up to 42 pounds using the buttons on the front.

To switch weights, all you need to do is press the buttons on the base.

To switch weights, all you need to do is press the buttons on the base.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

When you’re set on how heavy you want it, you’ll hear the weights adjusting underneath. The shell has a rotating shaft in the center that interlocks the weights based on the amount you choose. When it’s done, the base lets out a little beep to signal that it’s ready to go.

The base lasts about 14 hours on one charge, so you don’t have to constantly leave it plugged in. 

It’s important to figure out exactly where you want to put this thing before setting up, though. Otherwise, you’ll have to take it apart again or drag heavy weights across your home. 

I’m just speaking from experience here. Again, I have noodle arms.

Once that’s settled, all you have to do is stack the weights on the base. They’re all all different sizes that fit neatly on top of one another. 

Kind of like that Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack toy. To make it even easier, the weights are numbered one through five, so there is no way you can mess it up.

All the weights are stacked inside the shell.

All the weights are stacked inside the shell.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

When you're not using the weights, they can stay on the base,

When you’re not using the weights, they can stay on the base,

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

Then, slide the kettlebell shell over all the weights and clip it into the base to charge. 

Having the ability to hide all of the weights underneath is great, especially for those who don’t have a ton of space at home. 

Room for improvement on the app

As soon as the kettlebell is set up on the base, the JaxJox app (available on Android and iOS) should immediately recognize and pair via Bluetooth. 

You can follow along to the workout videos on your phone or tablet, but I used AirPlay to stream it to the TV in my living room. 

Once you create a profile, you can set goals (each day or per week) for reps, sets, weight, and time. Your dashboard keeps track of your progress whenever you complete a workout with the kettlebell. 

The dashboard keeps you updated on your progress throughout the day, week, and month.

The dashboard keeps you updated on your progress throughout the day, week, and month.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

There's a separate section to set your goals which you can then keep track of on the dashboard.

There’s a separate section to set your goals which you can then keep track of on the dashboard.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashbale

While the app is fairly straightforward, I do have a few qualms. 

For starters, it takes a while for the dashboard to sync your data to the app. While I wasn’t expecting instantaneous results, I would’ve liked to see my stats after a couple of minutes.

I also wish the workout videos were better organized, with the ability to filter out classes based on things like duration of the class, what part of the body you want to target, and the fitness level.

Each of the classes are separated into categories like strength training, HIIT, recovery, and tutorials. But it still requires quite a bit of scrolling to find the one you want. 

The classes range anywhere between 10 minutes all the way up to 45 minutes. Each one is led by an instructor who walks you through a warmup, exercises, and then a cool down to end the class. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t that many classes to choose from and I can see myself getting bored of taking the same ones over again. There also aren’t very many classes for beginners, but I’ll get to that later.

Don't forget to start with the basics for you beginners out there.

Don’t forget to start with the basics for you beginners out there.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

JaxJox says its app is updated monthly with new classes. But other fitness brands like Peloton, FightCamp, and Mirror add new classes every day. 

At least the workouts are free, unlike the aforementioned apps, which require a monthly subscription fee.

The app also calculates your “Fitness IQ.” This basically tells you how fit you are. 

It’s based on five things: peak and average power during a workout, average heart rate, and number of workouts and steps over the last seven days.

Not for the weak

When I first picked up the kettlebell, I was optimistic. 

I upped that baby to 18 pounds thinking this would be a cakewalk. I mean, I’m young, I work out on a daily basis, I’m a strong and independent woman who carries her own heavy boxes up the stairs—thank you VERY much. 

But the minute I attempted a single arm clean (where you lift the kettlebell into the air while also bending your knees), I realized I had made a huge mistake.

See? The weights are numbered, so please don't mess this up.

See? The weights are numbered, so please don’t mess this up.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

Remember that episode where SpongeBob tries to lift a stick with a marshmallows on both ends of it and rips his pants from trying too hard?

That was me.

Please don’t take this lightly: start with the basics. Especially if you don’t normally incorporate kettlebells into your workouts. 

I immediately exited out of the intermediate workout and started with the “Skills” guided workout instead. It consists of tutorials that teach you the proper technique and form. 

It’s integral to the rest of the workout videos, not only because it’ll be a lot easier to follow along but for your safety. 

Like I said before, there aren’t very many beginner classes. So, when I was done perfecting the basics, I moved back to the intermediate classes. 

The classes consist of sets of circuits, with a timer in the corner that counts down how long you have left in the workout. 

Each instructor is upbeat and all of them make it a point to demonstrate each of the moves clearly. So I didn’t feel completely lost throughout.

Even though some of the exercises were a little difficult, I was able to easily modify certain ones while still feelin’ that burn.

The wide grip handle definitely helps to ease my anxiety that I won't swing this thing right out of my hands.

The wide grip handle definitely helps to ease my anxiety that I won’t swing this thing right out of my hands.

Image: brenda stolyar/mashable

I also love that while the workouts are centered around the kettlebell, you’re targeting your entire body. With sit-ups, lunges, planks, or burpees, squats, and more, I’m currently so sore that it hurts to sit down to pee. 

Is it worth the cost?

At $229, the JaxJox KettlebellConnect is expensive. Especially with standard adjustable kettlebells priced anywhere from $60 to $170. 

But if you’re looking for a way to get a full body workout that doesn’t require much space, it’s worth it. By tracking your progress, you have something to constantly improve on. 

During this very crazy quarantine, it was nice to be able to squeeze in a quick 10-minute workout in the middle of the day that still made me break a sweat.

However, with a starting weight of 12 pounds and barely any beginner classes, it’s clearly targeted for those with prior experience. Especially since you can use it to track reps and sets without taking the classes.

But if you’re new to kettlebells, don’t let that deter you. If anything, you can slowly work your way up to additional weight over time. 

I do recommend maybe purchasing a cheaper kettlebell and trying some YouTube videos before opting for this, though. Just in case you realize it’s not the workout for you.

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