NEGATIVE CLUBBELLS EXPERIENCE!!!
As many of you know, I have been working out with Clubbells (purchased from RMAX International and manufactured by Torque Athletic) for over a year now. While I have been a great fan of Clubbells as a conditioning tool, I made an observation today on four of my Clubbells that causes me great concern as to their very safety. I know this will offend some, because the Clubbell is their sacred cow, but the truth is simply the truth. I have no malicious intent in communicating this information. I am simply communicating a truth that I have come to discover (at significant personal financial expense I might add), a truth I wish to see others avoid altogether.
I will explain in more detail below the nature of the safety concern, but in summary it is clearly evident to me that Clubbells, as they are presently engineered and manufactured, pose a serious possibility of snapping off at the junction of the grip and the body of the Clubbell, and either dropping on the user‘s head or becoming a flying missile that if they ever hit a bystander would very possibly cause death or serious injury. To the user because of the amount of weight that could drop on said user’s head, or death or serious injury to a bystander because of the amount of weight that could be sent flying in a missile manner. Do not underestimate the possibility of this happening.
While working out today with Clubbells I noticed that the “knob” of one of the 20 lb. Clubbells (it is the ball grip end of the Clubbell that screws into the neck of the Clubbell) was severely canted to one side. The Clubbell is designed such that the knob of the Clubbell screws into the neck of the Clubbell. As I understand it the screw itself is apparently called a zert. I took the 20 lb. Clubbell that had the severely canted knob, and I unscrewed it. It was then that I noticed that the zert itself was severely bent. The bend in the zert is what caused the knob to appear so severely canted. One does not have to be a rocket science to conceptualize that the ¼” zert is not capable of handling the tremendous physical forces that are brought to bear upon the knob/neck junction of the Clubbell.
In fact, during the very design of the Clubbell (when they initially were looking at a one-piece unit), there was a problem with the physical stresses placed at this very junction. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Scott Sonnon and published by Bodybuilding.com (bolding added):
Okay, I admit it. I tried initially to keep cost down and create just cast-iron and even lathe club replicas of the old time bowling pin design. After several broke because of falling over on the knob, I consulted with an engineer who apprise me of the failings of single piece units. In single piece units, the structurally weakest point is where the handle meets the knob. After investing too much money in replacing these designs and trying to increase material density, we realized we needed to have the knob as a screw type attachment to the neck.”http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sonnon2.htm
As you can see, even during their own testing the designer and manufacturer had a serious problem with that very specific area of the Clubbell being able to handle the physical stress. And while the zert design may have appeared to have addressed the product safety issue (and let there be no doubt in your mind whatsoever that a 20 lb. Clubbell landing on your head or flying through the air is not a potentially very serious safety issue), the fact of the matter as evidenced by my Clubbells is that it did not satisfactorily address the issue. The physical stresses still obviously exist, and as you can see from the photos, still impact that very exact same spot on the Clubbell. As with the recent Zylon body armor matter that affected Second Chance, sometimes things will pass an initial safety and functionality test, only for it to be later discovered that the safety and functionality did not pan out in the long run under real world use. It is simply the case that, despite the best intentions, these things happen in life.
It is my opinion, based upon my personal observation, that after a period of time of doing the dynamic, ballistic exercises associated with Clubbell training (exercises actually promulgated by RMAX in their Clubbells DVD and their Clubbells book), there is a very real risk of the Clubbell snapping off at the zert, at which time depending upon its physical location in relation to the user’s body or that of a bystander, the Clubbell could become a serious health hazard. In fact at several points in both the book and the DVD, the point is made about how losing control of the Clubbell could be very dangerous.
Upon reflection and analysis I have come to the personal conclusion that it is certain exercises which generate the dynamics which result in the bending of the zert. Exercising with Clubbells is very challenging to the grip. When you mix this already existing grip challenge reality with certain dynamic exercises which cause the hand grip to slide towards the knob, what you get is a combination of physical stressors that the Clubbell is not designed to handle. There are certain highly dynamic/ballistic exercises promulgated by RMAX International (e.g swipes, mills, circles, pendulums, pre-swing cleans, pre-swing snatches, head casts) that result in the user’s hand grip sliding down towards the knob/neck juncture. This is unavoidable (if a user is to do more than a couple of repetitions of these exercises) and the knob would serve no legitimate function whatsoever if it were not intended to stop the hand from sliding any further to where the user would lose complete grip on the Clubbell and the Clubbell would go flying out of the user’s hand. What then happens during these moments of hand slide is that the meaty portion of the palm of the hand is in contact with the knob (usually in mid-swing and before a user can safely adjust). Depending upon the movement of the direction of the Clubbell at that moment of palm of hand/knob contact, the palm of the hand prevents any further physical movement of the Clubbell knob in that particular direction, yet the rest of the Clubbell is still moving. This causes intense stress at that very same spot that caused the single-unit Clubbell prototypes to snap. Only in the case of the two-piece Clubbell unit as it presently exists, it causes the zert to bend. A bent zert is only an accident waiting to happen once the stresses of the moment exceed the bent zert’s ability to handle the load. Once the zert snaps, depending upon the existing scenario, a catastrophe could happen.
After observing this canted knob on the one 20 lb. Clubbell, I then examined the rest of my Clubbells. I discovered that the knob was canted to lesser degrees (and ultimately the zert bent) on several other Clubbells. Specifically on my 15-pounder , my other 20-pounder, and on my 35-pounder. I also have a 25-pounder and a 45-pounder, however, they are newer and have been used much less often, particularly on the more dynamic exercises. I own a 5-pounder and a 10-pounder but I don’t use them much at all because the weight is insufficient for me to get anything out of except wrist casts and those exercises at those weights do not provide sufficient stress to the knob/neck juncture in my humble opinion. The fact that this same bending of the zert in four separate Clubbells has occurred is clear evidence of a design structure problem.
The only exercises I have ever done are those in the RMAX Clubbells DVD and book. I use the Clubbells about 3 times a week in total. Almost always one day each week is a total Clubbell based workout, and usually on several other days I use them as a supplement to the workout of the day (e.g. weight vest, kettle bell, dumbbell, barbell). In other words, I have never used them outside of the parameters of normal use that would be more than reasonable for such a product.
Clubbells are extremely expensive in comparison to traditional hand weights such as dumbbells. Because of the cost and potential danger combination, I highly recommend that people stay away from Clubbells. They are great pieces of weight equipment, and they have great potential, but in the here and the now they are not up to handling the stresses of the job for which they have been manufactured. Sometimes in life you live and you learn. That is my personal experience here. Just say no, unless you have lots of money to piss away!!!