Fatherhood often seems like a conspiracy to make you fat. That’s not just because you’re always polishing off your kid’s leftover fishfingers. The truth is that, as a dad, you’ve suddenly got far less time to yourself. In fact, one study found that young men who became dads dropped an average of five hours per week of exercise.
Meet the potential solution. It’s called the YBell and it’s a gym-free training tool that combines a dumbbell, kettlebell, double-grip medicine ball and push-up stand. It’s the brainchild of Aaron Laurence (pictured above), a personal trainer who holds high-intensity sessions on Bondi Beach.
Necessity was the mother of invention here for Aaron. As the popularity of his training sessions grew, he found himself struggling to lug multiple pieces of kit down to the beach for his clients to use. In addition, as the father of a son and daughter aged five and three, Aaron also needed a training solution that could realistically synch with his dad-life.
“Our kids run us ragged, needless to say,” Aaron admits. “I knew I had to simplify my whole training process – the before, the during and the after – to make the most of my time.”
What he eventually came up with was the YBell, a shape-shifting tool that can morph into different types of fitness equipment through a simple change of grip. The upshot is that it makes training at home easier.
“Consistency is the key for training,” Aaron explains. “You’ve got to be consistent to get results. But the hardest part for most people is just initiating the training and getting started in the first place.”
That’s a familiar scenario for parents struggling to manage the competing demands of work and family life. The longer your to-do list, the less likely you’ll stick to your intentions to exercise.
“Every little barrier in your day that pops up creates a risk that you’re not going to do that training session,” Aaron says. “That’s why I keep my YBells beside the couch. They’re always there. I might not have time to do my big 40-minute workout. But I can still pick them up and do 10 minutes.”
That’s the sales-pitch, but how do the YBells work in practice?
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Blame it on watching too many infomercials, but I’m sceptical about new gym kit that makes extravagant claims. But after trialling the YBells for a week, I’m an instant convert.
First up, they’re super convenient. They’re small enough to stash under your bed, while their versatility means you don’t have to mess about adjusting dumbbells or dragging bulky gear out of your garage.
That accessibility is a gamechanger when you’re short on time. One morning when my wife was out and the kids were watching Bluey, I even managed to sneak in a quick 10-minute circuit (squat presses, push-up rows, high swings and dumbbell curls) in the kitchen.
That’s because Aaron designs his YBell workouts in 10-minute “pods”. Ideally, you’re meant to stitch a bunch of these together to perform back-to-back (there’s a YBell app that offers a range of workouts). But when you’re pushed – Bluey only lasts for seven minutes – you can still get your heart-rate up and your muscles throbbing.
Will the YBells help me win the war on dad bod? Right now, it’s too early to tell. But anything that makes it easier and more accessible to exercise has definitely got my attention.