We have all likely seen the gym-fail trope of someone stuck underneath a barbell while performing a bench press. The unluckiest among us will have felt the distinct displeasure first-hand. That's why for many people a gym partner is a necessity, someone who can be on standby to help achieve the extra one or two tough repetitions at the end of a set.
It was an unexpected lack of a gym partner that apparently led mechanical engineer Dave Vorozilchak to come up with the Maxx Bench. The device looks much like any standard weights bench, except that it comes installed with a pedal that, when pressed under foot, hydraulically lowers the person out of harm's way. The potentially life-saving pedal also acts as a height adjuster for the bench as a whole.
It's a clever remedy to a problem that faces many. Current solutions to the problem consist of contraptions like Smith machines, which suspend the barbell in a fixed position and can be locked in place, but can restrict motion and still leave room for injury; or there's the option of avoiding bench presses when you haven't got a partner, which of course is also not ideal.
The Maxx Bench has been seeking crowdfunding support on Kickstarter, and has already surpassed its funding target, with funders securing their own bench for the equivalent of £417, of which there are some units left to reserve (though for any British bodybuilders out there, the site states that shipping outside of the US in a no-no for now). If the Maxx Bench does make it to market fully, it will apparently retail for around £760.
If I were putting my Dragons' Den hat on right now though, I would advise Dave and his team to perhaps look to collaborate with bigger bench-manufacturers, on cause of how important their invention could be (that or bench manufacturers will inevitably come up with their own, very similar mechanism). The £32k worth of funding they have secured is not going to facilitate production that will lead to a weightlifting revolution. Getting your design to be a safety standard across benches from multiple manufacturers? Then they could really create the 'paradigm shift' they seek. [Kickstarter]