Influencers are obsessed with Bala Bangles—but are the wearable weights worth it?
I tried them to find out if they're as good as they look.
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When my local gym closed last March due to the pandemic, I was lost. The weight room was my second home and "home workouts" was not in my vocabulary—it's hard to fit a squat rack, barbells, and heavy weights in a studio apartment, after all. But like most people desperate to keep up a semi-normal workout routine during quarantine, I quickly tried to snag a range of weights for my makeshift home gym. However, dumbbells were (and still are) almost impossible to find, so while I was searching for more options and alternatives, there was one thing that kept popping up in my feed: Bala Bangles.
The trendy ankle weights that fitness and style influencers love keep selling out—but at $49 per pair, are they really worth buying? As someone who's willing to try anything once, especially when it comes to workout gear, I decided to buy a one-pound set for myself. Here's my honest review of Bala Bangles, and whether or not they're worth the price.
What are Bala Bangles?
Over the last few months, Bala Bangles have become the "it" wearable weights of Instagram and have sold out multiple times. With a modern, colorful aesthetic, the weighted bands are touted as the perfect fitness gear for anyone and any workout. "Bala Bangles add a constant but comfortable resistance to your workout," the brand explains, adding that with the weights, "The world just became your gym."
Made of recycled stainless steel that's covered in soft silicone, Bala Bangles are sold in pairs and come in three different weights: 1/2 pound, one pound, and two pounds each. They have a velcro adjustable strap and can be worn on either your wrists or your ankles.
What I like about Bala Bangles
Let's start with the obvious pro: their appearance. Bala Bangles are sleek and stylish (i.e., very Instagrammable) and come in a rainbow of stunning hues from jet black to blush pink to seafoam green. The design also isn't the clunky sand-filled ankle weights of the '80s but rather a form-fitting style that looks more like a trendy bracelet than a piece of fitness equipment (hence the name "bangles").
I also like how comfortable the weights are. They fit snugly against my wrist and don't chafe or irritate my skin when I'm wearing them. They're also easy to put on and take off yet the Velcro never came undone while I was working out. I also didn't have to adjust the weights at all during my workout which was a big plus.
What I don't like about Bala Bangles
First, I like to wear my Fitbit while I work out. With Bala Bangles, that's impossible as they wrap around the same part of your wrist as a fitness tracker or smart watch does. Also, when I wore the bangles during higher-intensity movements (like jumping jacks or burpees in yoga sculpt, for instance), they slipped around a little bit once I got sweaty. They also seemed to make my movements feel jerky and "unnatural" with the added resistance, and I worried about tweaking my shoulders or hips.
On that note, it's important to realize that while wrist and ankle weights—Bala Bangles included—are trending right now, they may not be as effective as people assume. Harvard Health warns that wearing wrist or ankle weights during cardio exercise (running, walking, etc.) can increase your risk of injury as it causes muscle imbalances. This is something I definitely experienced when I was wearing my weights as mentioned above—they put more of a strain than a burn on my arms during cardio.
Finally, these are very light weights as far as added resistance goes. You won't get much stronger from using them, though you may feel more of an intensity or a "burn" from slow, deliberate movements, but training-wise, they won't make a huge difference.
Are Bala Bangles worth it?
This depends on how you use them. If you want to add a little extra weight to dumbbells (say, to increase your overhead press from 10 pounds to 12 pounds) or wear the bangles for added resistance during a slow-flowing yoga sculpt or barre class, for instance, Bala Bangles are fine. They fit comfortably and are a convenient way to add a small amount of external resistance. It's also nice that you can use them on either your wrists and your ankles.
They're also really pretty and they look cool. This might not seem like much, but if just having them in your house makes you want to use them, and therefore do exercises or workouts that you would otherwise not have done, that's a huge tick mark in the W column.
However, because a lot of people use wearable weights incorrectly, there is a significant risk of injury. Also, if you like to wear a watch while you work out or if you're someone who lifts with much heavier weight (i.e., two pounds is barely going to make a difference), these aren't a good buy.
All that said, I still use them when I take the occasional barre class and I'd suggest them for anyone who prefers lighter-weight workouts or for beginners looking for a hands-free weight alternative.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.