Aaron Laurence never thought he’d become an inventor. A labourer for 20 years and a personal trainer for the past 12, he’s still surprised he’s patented the YBell, a four-in-one weight-training tool.“[In my group training sessions at Bondi] we were using all the traditional equipment: kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells,” he says.“As my group numbers got bigger it was such a hassle to be lugging the equipment around, setting it up, packing it up. I thought, ‘What if one piece of equipment could do all of these exercises?’”
About five years ago, Laurence enlisted an engineer to create the first YBells. They were functional as weights, but were “big steel things” that lacked finesse and design. In 2014, Laurence was introduced to Sydney-based industrial designer Michael Hoppe, and the pair embarked on a process of prototyping, redesigning and testing (with a few missteps and false starts along the way). By 2016, they had produced a polished product that people would actually want to use.
The updated YBells feature rounded corners and are coated in neoprene, a soft rubber commonly found on dumbbells. The coating makes the YBells more comfortable to hold, and their non-slip surface means they’re safe for the gym.
Like kettlebells and dumbbells, YBells are made of cast-iron steel, but come with four handles integrated into the design. Depending on how the weight is held, it can be used as a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball or push-up stand. “When you change the grip, you change the equipment,” Laurence says. “I can have 30 people doing a kettlebell swing, and in 30 seconds they’ll all be doing a dumbbell curl.” This timesaving adds up: Laurence has compressed his classes at Bondi Beach from one hour to 45 minutes without removing any specific exercises. The YBell comes in five sizes between 4.3 kilograms to 12 kilograms, making it suitable for most people, too.
The YBell is available in Rebel Sport stores nationwide.
Five YBell Exercises to Try
Med-ball back-lunge press
1. Hold the YBell in both hands with palms facing in and knuckles facing up.
2. Place the YBell in below your chin.
3. Lunge backwards using your right leg. Lower your right knee to just above the ground.
4. As you stand, extend the YBell above your head with both hands.
5. Lower the weight back under your chin. Repeat with your left leg.
Dumbbell squat press
1. Hold the YBell in your right hand.
2. Rest the weight on your right shoulder, palm facing inwards and knuckles facing up.
3. Position your feet hip-width apart.
4. Squat until your hips are below knee height.
5. As you stand, extend the YBell above your head using your right arm.
6. Lower the weight to your right shoulder. Repeat with the left side.
Kettlebell low swing
1. Position your feet hip-width apart.
2. Hold the YBell in your right hand,palm facing the ground, at chest height and arms’ length.
3. Swing the YBell between your legs, thrusting your hips back.
4. Swing the YBell to chest height, thrusting your hips forward.
5. As the weight returns to chest height, “catch” it with your left hand and remove your right hand. Repeat.
1. Place the YBell on the ground.
2. Get into a push-up position, with your right hand grasping the top of the YBell and your left hand flat on the ground.
3. Lower your upper body until your chest just touches the floor.
5. Maintaining the raised position, walk your feet and hands to the other side of the YBell.
6. Grip the YBell with your left hand. Repeat.
Pick-up cross halo
1. Place the YBell on the ground.
2. Position your feet hip-width apart.
3. Bend at the hips and knees.
4. Pick up the YBell in your right hand.
5. Catch the weight at chest height with your left hand.
6. With both hands gripping the YBell, orbit the YBell anti-clockwise around your neck, letting the weight brush the top of your spine and your biceps brush your ears.
7. Place the YBell on the ground with your left hand. Repeat.