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Home gyms are likely here to stay — which means that now may be the time to rethink the equipment you have lying around. With space always at a premium, the YBells concept — combining the functionality and benefits of dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls in one device — is certainly an intriguing one.
While the fitness sector is swamped with fly-by-night companies making lofty claims about new miracle devices, YBells’ bona fides are pretty solid: a 2022 Home Gym Award from Men’s Health, a 2021 Women’s Health Fitness Award, a Best in Test for Tech Award from Women’s Running magazine and a handful of design awards.
How could SPY resist? We promptly procured a pair of YBells, downloaded its proprietary app with free intro videos and workouts, changed into our workout clothes and took them for a spin.
What Are YBells?
The YBell is the brainchild of Australian inventor and personal trainer Aaron “Az” Laurence, who, during the course of his High-Intensity Resistance Training, found it impossible for his students to keep switching between dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls. His solution: Create one piece of equipment that does the work of all three.
What he came up with is a Y-shaped free weight with four handles, where different grips simulate different pieces of equipment and create different workouts. It’s now expanded into three lines of weights ranging from 2.4 pounds to 44 pounds, with a storage rack, app and even instructor training and coaching courses if you’re a trainer and want to incorporate them into your program.
How Do YBells Work?
It’s all in the grip. With four ergonomic handles and truly remarkable balance, the YBell can be held several different ways to produce the effects of different workout gear:
- Center grip simulates dumbbells for curls, presses and other movements.
- Outer grip allows the YBell to be used as a kettlebell for swings, squats, snatches and other traditional kettlebell movements.
- Double grip turns the YBell into a handled medicine ball for lunges, twists, goblet squats and other medicine ball workouts.
- Top grip turns the YBell into a stable pushup stand, with the option to use them again as dumbbells for a pushup with pullthrough.
The YBell app runs through the various grips and makes them easy to understand and acclimate to.
What We Found
When you order YBells online, you are taken to a quiz to determine which version and weight level is appropriate for you. Pro tip: Be honest, even if that means it’s giving you a weight level below your ego level. Ask us not how we know this.
From there you download the app, which comes with a comprehensive introduction teaching the various grips and a robust selection of free warmups and workouts. There are also beginner, intermediate and advanced programs available at the $9.99/month subscription level.
The first thing we noticed once we got into the actual workouts was how different the YBells felt from any of the implements they’re intended to replace. As intermediate exercisers we have experience with kettlebells, and no matter how they’re made they feel like a cannonball on the end of a handle. YBells don’t have that imbalanced feel at all, which is a vast improvement.
The neoprene coating on the cast-iron YBells makes every grip equally comfortable and is resistant to slipping even when our hands got sweaty — and they definitely got sweaty.
The main motivation for the invention of the YBells was the ability to switch exercises in a high-intensity workout without having to switch equipment, and that was absolutely the case as we went through the workouts on the app. Ybells are far more than a novelty — the product really enhanced the range and effectiveness of the workout.
Do We Recommend YBells?
Be warned: YBells are not inexpensive. One 27-pound YBell is $80 before shipping, while a basic 25-pound dumbbell on Amazon goes for $25. But add in a $38 basic kettlebell and a dual-grip medicine ball for $35, and suddenly the YBell’s price doesn’t seem so prohibitive. In the long run, the YBells save money and space.
We like the app: The free content is good for beginner and intermediate workout enthusiasts, enough so that we’re going to spring for the subscription. It’s easy to follow and doesn’t overwhelm you like some midlevel or advanced HIIT workouts do. The ability to hit so many muscle groups with one implement was an eye-opener.
Our recommendation: The YBells are a great addition to your home workout routine. Solid buy.