hot bod

These Alpha-Girl Wrist Weights Are Actually So Soothing

Photo-Illustration: by Stevie Remsberg; Photo: @Bala/Instagram

Hot Bod is a weekly exploration of fitness culture and its adjacent oddities.

Probably due to something like discipline or perfectionism or alpha dynamics, the try-hards who set up their mats closest to the instructors are often the most Put Together. They may be show-offs, but I usually love their leggings. I admire their lashings of everyday gold-chain necklaces, the suite of small hoop earrings. I resist styling myself in their wake: These things will never look the same on me, I reason.

The eye is a fickle hunter though. When I first saw Bala bangle weights, clunking up the wrist of an alpha girl on a mat in front of me, I felt a deeply satisfying wave of: No thank you very much. I could tell these clonking things were exercise weights, but also that they wanted to trick me for a second! They look like they want to sneak into a Miami cocktail party. Are we maybe costume jewelry? they ask, in their trend-relevant matte smirk. They look like chiclets on steroids, disproportionate and hard. Velcro snaps are concealed under an accordion roll of tall lozenges. The absurdist reaches of stylization immediately annoyed me. We are a step away from marble dumbbells. Not everything useful needs to be beautiful!

And yet, are these bangle weights even beautiful? Are these bangle weights not actually hideous? Is their bright relationship to soft-edged geometry not maybe befitting the production design of The Fifth Element? No matter — I couldn’t look away. I was aesthetically in over my head! This impulse has also prompted me to purchase a duvet cover with two abstract leopards on it. After acquiring these ugly-captivating things, I am then sworn to use them. If I use them, I can pretend as if they were not a minor mistake.

Wearing my one-pound weights (I chose a moody emerald) to a couple gym classes and walking the dog, I got jacked little muscles in a week. My bod is very responsive to some things and not responsive at all to others: My arms muscle up instantly, but my soft belly has fled only during times of immense no-appetite stress (very fun spring 2017, looking hard and anxious at all times). So the weights “worked” if working meant that I didn’t notice them as a discrete challenge, but each movement required slightly more effort. I also appreciate that the bangles didn’t interrupt me when I was just going about my domestic shuffling. Unlike a dumbbell, they’re very respectfully hands-free. It’s upsetting how something I gawked over so quickly morphs into a neutral object.

So it was a big earnest surprise when my chunky albatross bracelets became so comforting. After the general atmosphere started to feel chaotic, just wearing them while tidying and doing laundry became soothing. This holds the same logic as a thunder coat or a weighted blanket: a tight press calms my nervous little system. This feeling would hold true for any wrist weight, I think, I just happen to have clunk-bracelets as my weights. What the bangles have been hiding all along is that they feel like a small hug. The feeling is that something is containing you, holding you steady. They’re like when a friend grabs your whole wrist in their hand to keep connected as you weave through a big concert, and you do the same to another friend right behind you. When there’s little that feels stable to hold onto, I’ve turned to the weighted appeal of two small anchors.

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These Alpha-Girl Wrist Weights are Actually So Soothing