Exercise stick trains your muscles with light-based feedback

It's a neat concept if you're willing to take a flyer on Kickstarter.

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Of all the products ripe for technological gimmicks, training gizmos take the (low-fat, sugar-free) cake. That said, a new gadget called Axon does look pretty cool, if you're willing to risk Kickstarter. It's a stick that resembles a stout pool cue, with sensors and lights that measure the force you apply when pushing it against a wall, floor, ceiling, rock or tree. You can then train your body to match the lights, helping you improve muscle and back strength.

The Axon stick shows a digital readout of exactly how much force you're applying, but the lights, which extend down the stick as you press, are easier to follow during a workout. When you start a rep, the lights turn yellow and gradually move down the stick toward the sensor. The idea is to then "'chase' the yellow guidance light and turn it green by applying a target amount of force," the company behind it says. Once you hit the target force, the lights turn green.

Meanwhile, the the AxonFit app gives you access to a library of exercises created by personal trainers (or your own custom workouts) that you can transmit to the Axon stick. "Axon then guides users through those workouts, provides accurate, real-time, visual feedback and sends data collected during workouts back to AxonFit app." As with most other fitness apps, you can then track your progress, compete with friends and share on social networks.

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While a stick might seem a pretty silly workout tool, you can use one to do full-body, iso-kinetic-type training by pulling or pushing it. Since you're not hefting free weights, "Axon is accessible to people at any fitness level, including both children and the elderly," its creators say. It's reasonably light and small, so you can use and store it easily, even in a small apartment.

To make sure it was durable, light and stylish, the group hired Whipsaw, the company that helped create Nike's Fuelband, to design it. The result is a nice-looking, 10 pound, five foot bamboo stick with a 5.5-inch circumference and chargeable battery (via the base) that lasts about three hours. The sensor uses durometer rubber that won't scuff surfaces, and each stick can be paired with multiple accounts.

The Axon is available at an early bird price of $249, or $389 for a pair. So far, the company is about a quarter of the way to its $50,000 goal, with four weeks left in the campaign. The price isn't cheap, but it's no more than, say, a decent elliptical trainer or set of free weights. And if it ends up under your bed or the closet gathering dust like most training equipment, at least it won't take up too much space. If you decide to make a pledge, remember that as with any Kickstarter product, there's a chance it will never ship and that you'll lose all your money.

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