Why Did I Start Boxing?
I started boxing a year ago.
At the time, it was about getting away from running. Running seems to be the default fitness activity as you get older. For good reason - it's very easy to squeeze in a 20-minute run. It doesn’t require a gym. You can do it outside.
I grew up playing team sports like soccer and hockey. But organized sports are constraining and time-consuming. That gets tougher as age.
From an efficiency standpoint, four hours committed for a one-hour workout doesn't make sense.
My best days of soccer and hockey are also past me. I still enjoy them. But I'm not going to improve.
Boxing, though, I could improve, because I had no boxing skills when I started.
It's also a fantastic workout. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most efficient workout available. Boxing workouts are based on rounds, which are 3 minutes of work followed by 1 minute of rest. They have an inherent interval structure.
Little time is required for a good boxing workout. You can arrive 5 minutes before class starts and be exhausted within the hour.
There's also something primal about all combat sports. Fighting is interesting, regardless of the rules.
I always enjoyed the physical combat aspect of hockey. Boxing has different rules, but the principle is the same: beat the other person.
Modern life seems to have more time constraints than ever.
We squeeze in workouts whenever we can. And there’s no shortage of fitness business models.
P90X, Bowflex, and others have shown the demand for at-home fitness products.
The popularity of fitness classes has risen substantially. The group setting provides motivation. The intensity is often higher than we can muster on our own. The social aspect makes it a positive experience. ClassPass has capitalized on this.
Recently, several companies have paired the appeal of group classes with in-home fitness.
The most well-known is Peloton.
With Peloton, for $2245 USD ($2950 CAD), you get a specially-designed indoor bike machine with a large screen built-in. You may also want to buy a pair of bike shoes.
Then you pay $40 per month and get access to a large variety of spin classes that you can follow along with. The classes are filmed in-studio to give you the feel of participating in your home.
By all accounts, it's been a success so far, with investors putting in almost a billion dollars in funding to date.
Many other companies are capitalizing on the trend.
FightCamp - Peloton for Boxing
One of those companies is FightCamp.
They're focused on bringing all the benefits of group boxing workouts to your home.
Full disclosure: FightCamp was founded by friends of mine, but I'll do my best to give an objective review.
For $1095 USD, you get a top-of-the-line free-standing heavy bag, a set of heavy workout mats, a pair of boxing gloves and wraps, and their key technology: punch trackers.
The punch trackers get worn in the provided wraps. They measure quickness, max velocity and number of punches, and are key to the workouts.
Using the provided package (or your own equipment - you can get the sensors separately if you want), you subscribe for $39 per month.
With this subscription, you get access to a full library of boxing workouts. These workouts are filmed in-studio with other participants, giving you the feeling of being in class.
Here's the coolest part: you stream the workouts via the FightCamp app to your phone/iPad/TV, and follow along. As you participate, your punches get logged, and your final workout score gets stacked up on the leaderboard for that workout.
Each workout has punch count goals, so you can know how you're doing all the time.
I had the pleasure of participating in some of the in-studio workouts last time I visited the team in LA. Here's a quick clip from one:
The trainer in the video is Flo Master, who you can follow on Instagram here.
The Benefits of FightCamp
The benefits of boxing carry over to FightCamp. The workouts are short, intense and efficient. You have the option to choose 15-, 30- or 45-minute workouts, and all will make you sweat.
The studio atmosphere gives the feeling of being in class, which helps with motivation and intensity.
Their punch trackers are a difference-maker. Seeing punches in real-time during the workout is motivating, and the leaderboard (a recent feature) motivates further. It’s hard to resist immediately repeating a workout when you finish close to the top. The competitive desire to improve is hard to resist.
As a result, the workouts are fun, despite the intensity.
It also makes it easy to track your progress. Automatically having your score tracked on a per-workout basis gives you a benchmark to improve on. That's difficult in standard workouts, even if you use the sensors.
The equipment is great. I know how much time they spend sourcing top-quality components.
Customer support is excellent. They have an active Facebook group and respond to requests and comments quickly and consistently.
The trainers who create and lead the workouts are top-notch. Tommy Duquette, one of the co-founders, is a former US Olympic team boxer. Others are former MMA fighters and trainers for top celebrities like Adrianna Lima, Usher and Hugh Jackman. They're all engaged on social media, further enhancing the FightCamp community.
The app user experience is great. Music streaming happens in-app. The app is easy to navigate, and connecting the sensors (probably the most complicated aspect) is intuitive.
The Cons of FightCamp
I'll address both my own suggestions and those which have been common among users.
There are only a few things I would like to see improve.
The first is offline availability of the workouts.
The full FightCamp package isn't available in Canada yet, so I've been following along with the workouts at my local boxing gym. Unfortunately, my gym has spotty Wifi, so sometimes I can't stream the classes. When this happens I default back to the Hykso app, and do a few freestyle rounds.
This shouldn't be a problem if you're working out at home, where Wifi is stable.
But it would be a nice feature for traveling too, where you may be in a gym that doesn't have Wifi, or in a hotel where it sucks. I’m told, however, that this feature is being worked on.
The third is linking with other services.
I use a Scosche Rhythm+ armband to track my heart rate during workouts. It's the most accurate way I've found to measure my own intensity and watch progress.
Currently, there isn't any in-app support for heart rate monitors. Adding heart rate tracking to workouts - both live and in the workout summary - would be cool. The ability to push this data to other apps (Apple Health, for example) would also be nice.
While writing this, I scoured forums and groups for user feedback on FightCamp (trying to be objective here, remember?). I'll summarize them here.
Currently, the app is only available on iOS. I can see how this would be frustrating for Android users. I use an iPhone, so it hasn't been an issue for me.
Production quality of the classes has been a complaint in the past. This is fixed. The team brought a video/audio person in-house, and the quality is great.
Availability of classes was a complaint early. This is also fixed. The team pushes out 4+ classes per week now. They've been doing so for over a year, so the quantity of classes available is extensive.
I've found that you will find trainers and workouts you like more, and will keep going back to a small number of them. It's nice to know there's variety when you want it.
Getting punch trackers on properly used to be a complaint. This was before they supplied wraps, when you had to use standard boxing wraps.
The supplied wraps have little pockets for the trackers, making this a non-issue.
A few users have asked for modifications of the exercises. I didn't find this an issue, but I'm also relatively fit. New content has been added in the past couple months specifically targeted at beginners.
High initial cost has also been a complaint. I would argue it's much cheaper than Peloton, and more fun.
That said, the team has been open about the cost of components. It's actually more expensive if you purchase each component individually.
The following are rough prices for each component:
- Century Torrent T2 Pro standing bag: $450 USD
- Boxing gloves: $120-$190 USD
- FightCamp Connect (quick wraps + sensors): $399 USD
- Rubber workout mats: ~$100 USD
Including tax and shipping, buying separately comes out to more than the FightCamp package (which comes with free shipping).
Can you assemble a set of working equipment for less? Yes. The FightCamp team selected premium equipment for the package. If you want premium equipment that will last (and is also custom FightCamp stuff), it's a great deal.
Here's a video of Tommy and Patrick (another co-founder) testing out bags at Century.
I have yet to find a workout that is more fun by yourself.
I've tried biking indoors, and I've used the Peloton bike. Neither are near as fun.
With FightCamp, you'll have fun developing new boxing skills, competing on the leaderboard, and tracking your progress.
I think FightCamp is the best available option for improving your fitness at home. Not only is it a great workout, but when you enjoy it, you’re all the more likely to stick with it.
Congrats to the FightCamp team on building such a great experience.