The lowly resistance band has finally gotten smart

It was only a matter of time until the overlooked resistance band got an upgrade and joined the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. Resistance bands are among the most convenient bang-for-your-buck investments you can make in fitness, though they aren’t as flashy as, say, a set of freeweights. But they are small enough for the most cramped apartments and versatile enough to use in a wide range of exercises. Funding for smart resistance bands called “LiftUp” just surpassed its $50,000 goal on Kickstarter.

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The addition of a little tech goes a long way. An adapter with motion sensors and a Bluetooth transmitter attaches between the handle and the band, acting as a brain of sorts, to make a dumb set of resistance bands smart. It can automatically track reps, pounds lifted, and calories burned. The Smart Adapter sends data to the device of choice for viewing in real-time.

The app offers workouts, benchmarking and feedback, as well as stats. The intrepid trainer could use the app to track his or her client’s performance to see if they’re sticking to the game plan. But trainers can’t check in on their clients remotely just yet. Soon, maybe?

“Remote interactivity isn’t something we’re promising to have available at launch, but it’s on the development roadmap and a high priority,” Nick Sulham, founder and CEO of LiftUp, told Digital Trends. “Similarly, we see use cases for pairs or groups to exercise ‘together’ remotely. The real-time feedback and quantification add elements of fun and competition.” Take that to mean there is a long term plan for LiftUp as a growing brand.

The LiftUp bands themselves are made of Spectra, a synthetic, abrasion-resistant, hydrophobic nylon that’s 15 times stronger than steel by weight. For reference, this material is strong enough for use in fishing line and climbing rope, so it won’t easily wear out.

Each LiftUp kit comes with three bands for different resistance levels — 5, 15, and 30 pounds — which attach to one pair of handles. The handles, made of polished Hard Maple or North American Walnut braced in polished aluminum, have a minimalist but attractive look. Considering the bands are sold without the smart adapter, a visual appeal is a nice selling point.

LiftUp isn’t pitching the bands as a replacement for a gym, treadmill, or pool. But then, none of those things fit in a briefcase. This is a go-anywhere workout that is great for people who have to travel a lot for business. It charges via micro USB, which is fast becoming ubiquitous. The battery will run for about 15 hours, which Sulham pointed out is about three months of normal use.

According to a comment from the company on its campaign page, the smart adapter will be offered for sale separately later, but there is no decision yet on when. So if you want smart resistance bands, get on it now. The company extended  the early bird reward so you can still grab a LiftUP kit with two Smart Adapters for  $199.

LiftUp’s tagline is that smart resistance bands are doing for strength training what Fitbit did for walking. That remains to be seen, but since the campaign is fully funded, we’ll soon get to find out.

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