I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of setting foot in a gym for the rest of the year. That’s problematic because I need exercise to balance out all the staying inside and snacking that is comprising my locked-down, work-from-home lifestyle. I’ve been cobbling together a routine of outdoor runs and indoor dance and yoga classes, but I wanted to add something a little more strenuous in the hopes that I would emerge from quarantine in 2021 completely jacked (or maybe with a hint of a baby bicep muscle and, like, one ab). Enter FightCamp.
FightCamp is a connected home boxing experience that works the entire body for a little more than half the price of a full kit, which includes a free-standing punching bag, a workout mat, boxing gloves, hand wraps, and the Bluetooth trackers that slide into the wraps, costs $US1,220 ($1,712), which seems like a bargain when you look around at the connected fitness landscape.
A Peloton bike is $US2,245 ($3,150), Tonal’s smart strength-training machine is $US3,000 ($4,210), and even the basic Mirror is $US1,500 ($2,105). Those machines all have displays, which increases the price significantly. With FightCamp, you can use your phone, tablet, or TV to stream the classes (though the classes require an additional $US39 ($55) per month to access). FightCamp offered much more basic equipment and classes in a cheaper package a few years back, but everything from the trackers to the classes has since been upgraded.
Let me be clear: These classes will 100% kick your arse and are an excellent replacement for going to a gym. But there are a few questions to consider: Do you have room for a giant punching bag? Do you own an iPhone? Do you even like boxing? The answers to these questions are crucial. But there is absolutely no question that FightCamp is a good workout that offers a lot of bang for your buck.
WHAT IS IT?
Connected at-home boxing equipment
$US1,220 ($1,712) for the personal package
Excellent total-body workouts; plenty of tutorials and instruction for beginners
Nothing discreet about it for those with small spaces and it's damn near impossible to move it once it's set up; iOS-only app leaves few options for streaming workouts
I’ll start with the most annoying part about FightCamp: its size. If you have a small space, this is the least discreet piece of home gym equipment you could possibly buy. The 67-inch-tall free-standing punching bag is both wider and taller than I (a 5’3″ woman on the petite side) am. The bag is 24 inches in diameter at its base, which attaches to a substantial base weight that you fill with either water or sand to prevent the bag from tipping over when you punch it. If you fill the base weight with sand, you can anchor the bag with 181 kg, meaning you’ll have a very difficult time knocking it over with forceful punches. I chose water, the easier (but lighter) option.
My husband and I used the hose from our lawn to fill the base at our front door and then cardboard to slide the now-122 kg weight to a spot in our living room. Did water get all over my hardwood floor? Of course, it did. And I would’ve preferred to put the FightCamp in my office, but my desire to slide said 122 kg base weight across my living room, through my dining room, down a carpeted hallway to my carpeted office was nonexistent. Instead, it sticks out like a sore thumb behind my couch. I assume in normal times FightCamp offers white-glove delivery that would make set-up a little easier, but that’s the price you pay for buying giant items during a pandemic.
The personal kit includes a mat to absorb shock and keep the base from scratching your floor in the event that it does move (which it does, ever so slightly, if you punch really hard). Eight interlocking 0.61 m-by-0.61 m tiles let you build out the mat according to the size of your space. If you live in a 100-year-old echo-y house with creaky hardwood floors like I do, FightCamp is a very loud workout ” there’s just no getting around it. But if you have the right space to put it, like a garage or a dedicated home gym, the size and sound won’t be an issue.
Logistics aside, FightCamp is fairly easy to start using. Hosting pay-per-view fights at my house is about the extent of my boxing experience, though I am from Las Vegas, so I’m pretty sure an affinity for boxing is as innate as my blackjack skills. But you don’t have to know anything about boxing to get started, because there are plenty of intro classes to get you comfortable with various types of punches. I decided to skip all that and dive right in.
Starting a FightCamp workout is a little more complicated than it is with other connected gym equipment. First, you slide your hands into the padded wraps that come with the personal kit (you can choose either small or large, depending on your hand size, and also order additional sizes a la carte for other folks in your household). Then you tap the Bluetooth trackers, one with a blue LED light and one red to correspond with the colour of the wraps. Then you slide the trackers into the wraps. And then you start a workout in the FightCamp app (only available on iOS), which begins with a warm-up while you finally put your gloves on.
There is absolutely no way you can reasonably watch the workout on a tiny (or even massive) phone screen and still punch your heart out, but you can AirPlay or mirror your screen to an Apple TV. AirPlay almost never showed as an option in the FightCamp app, and mirroring your entire iPhone screen can be laggy, so my go-to method was using a Lightning-t0-HDMI dongle to plug my iPhone directly into my TV. There is no way to stream FightCamp workouts on a laptop, and there is no Android app. There are also no FightCamp apps for any smart TVs. This means unless you have an iPhone or an iPad, you’re shit out of luck.
But if you do have an iPhone or iPad, FightCamp is an excellent workout. You can choose from four different types of classes: 4 rounds (10 minutes), 6 rounds (20 minutes), 8 rounds (30 minutes), and 10 rounds (40 minutes). Each class includes a minute of rest between rounds, which the instructor uses to show the punch combinations you’ll be throwing in the next round ” that’s helpful if you skip the boxing skills classes. Rounds include punch combos (or kicks if you take a kickboxing class) as well as bodyweight exercises like planks, lunges, and, if you really want to lean into the torture, sit-ups that require you to punch the bag at the top. As I said, these workouts are effective.
The Bluetooth trackers pair to the FightCamp app to count your punches. Each round includes a punch goal, and you can see your punch count and output ” a measurement of your speed and force ” in real-time, which is motivating. Sometimes I fuck it up and punch too slowly only to realise there are 10 seconds left to throw 50 punches. Then it’s a flailing free-for-all. FightCamp’s trackers don’t count calories, so you’ll have to use a separate wearable to track your workout ” let me tell you, an Apple Watch is a mighty awkward fit under a hand wrap and a boxing glove, but, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo, In-House Art
The tracker with the blue light slides into the blue hand wrap.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo, In-House Art
Wrapped and ready to punch.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo, In-House Art
Charging the trackers between workouts is easy.
Like Peloton, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward specific FightCamp instructors (who are all pros). My husband preferred Coach PJ and Flo Master, while Shanie Smash’s intensity and focus on lower-body workouts were more effective for me. None are super charismatic, but if you want someone to yell at you, a FightCamp instructor is as good as anyone else.
When it comes to your choice of connected workout equipment, FightCamp is one of the best options. The price is actually reasonable, especially if you consider it a substitute for a gym membership ” it breaks down to $US51 ($72) a month spread out over 24 months. Up to five users can use the same equipment and membership, lowering the cost per person further. If you already own a punching bag and gloves, you can buy trackers and wraps for $US439 ($616), then subscribe to the FightCamp app to get the same workout experience.
My biggest issue with FightCamp is a personal one: I decided I just don’t love boxing as a regular form of exercise. My routine has been set for years: 6 km outdoor runs a few times a week mixed with yoga and dance classes for flexibility and fun. I didn’t have much fun boxing, though there’s nothing quite like punching as hard as you can to release the frustration of living through the daily dumpster fire that is 2020. If you, like my husband, already enjoyed boxing classes at Rumble or a similar boutique boxing gym, then FightCamp is a good replacement until it’s safe to sweat alongside other humans and breathe in all that recirculated air.
As for me, well, I haven’t yet gotten jacked, but the year isn’t over and it’s bound to get worse.
- Challenging, full-body boxing workouts that you will definitely feel the following day.
- Once you set this thing up, prepare to leave it where it is for all of time. It’s impossible to move.
- iOS-only means you can’t stream FightCamp workouts on a laptop or Android phone, and AirPlaying it to a TV is hit-or-miss.
- Affordable compared to other connected gym equipment.