I am sore.
Not in a oh-hell-I-cannot-sit-down kind of sore. More like, “OK!, I worked some-long-ignored-muscles sore.” And in year where I’m trying to extract myself out of the COVID-19 pandemic doldrums, this is a good thing.
It’s not a Peloton cycling, but a newer entry to the connected home gym scene. FightCamp is the name of this new home gym system. It includes a punching bag, gloves, and smart trackers that connect to it. The focus of FightCamp is boxing and kickboxing.
FightCamp has been around for more than a month now and it is clear that it produces sweat that, if done regularly, will improve core, balance, speed, and basic boxing knowledge. FightCamp also offers a safe, non-judgy path for people who want to try boxing but are afraid to go to a mixed martial arts or boxing gym.
It’s important to go back to the beginning in order understand FightCamp. Four years before FightCamp launched its connect home workout program, Hykso was the company that was founded FightCamp. The company created fitness trackers, which were then improved, tested and used by Olympic boxing champions. The trackers were used by several Olympic boxing teams, including those from the United States, Canada, and China. The trackers were also used by Manny Pacquiao who is considered to be one of the greatest boxers ever.
Since these athletes were already competing at the highest levels of the sport, there was no content layer. It was only the data and trackers.
Then, a strange thing happened. Khalil Zahar (founder and CEO) says that the boxing coaches began using them with private clients.
Zahar said, referring to coaches, “They were the bridge.” FightCamp was born from this point. He said, “Let’s make it easy for people to use it in their workouts with trainers, but also teach them how to box and create a beginner-based program they can follow at home. We want to teach them techniques.”
FightCamp offers three packages for “hardware”: Connect, $439 (or $399 on holidays), Personal, $1,219 (but still available over holidays at $999), and Tribe, $1,299. Subscribers must pay $39 per month to access the content. This gives them access to more than 1,000 classes and drills in the iOS and Android apps. This isn’t just about punching people. You can choose to do a workout that includes kickboxing, and you can toggle the app to make sure that each session ends with core work such as planks and situps.
Connect does not include the bag. It only includes the quick wraps, digital punch trackers, and quick wraps. This package is for people who already own a punching bag. The Personal package (which I tested) includes the punch trackers and quick wraps, gloves as well as the bag ring, free-standing bag, bag ring, and the bag ring. My package also included a mat. However, I was told that it is no longer available.
FightCamp Tribe is exactly what it sounds. It is intended for more than one person. The package includes punch trackers and quick wraps. A heavy workout mat, premium boxes gloves, bag rings, premium boxing gloves and wraps, as well as children’s boxing gloves.
Two boxes were included in the FightCamp Personal Package: one large cardboard box containing the bag and base, and another holding the punch trackers, which track user’s output, number of punches and quick wraps. The Personal package does not include the mat.
It is easy to set up and prepare the trackers. It is however a cumbersome and awkward task depending on the location of the bag. My bag was brought into our guesthouse, which is a place that is not in the way of daily life, but close to a TV. (I’ll get to that later.
Once the mat is laid out, the user places the base where the bag will be placed. The base can then be filled with water or sand. The setup time was greatly reduced when I ran a hose outside to the guest house. You’ll have to carry water and sand everywhere you go. It sounds awful, but it’s not.
My mistake, which I later regretted, was not to put the base exactly where I wanted it to be. It is not possible to move it without a dollie if it has been filled with water, sand, or both (user’s decision).
My mistake was to place the bag and base on the wrong side of the mat, so I could face the TV. It made a huge difference in my workouts after I rectified the mistake.
What works and what doesn’t?
The good news is that punch trackers (pictured above) work as advertised and can track every punch. It is easy to use, and you can do a lot of workouts. All are lead by NASM CPTs and USA boxing certified coaches.
The fact that core exercises are done in conjunction with kickboxing and boxing instruction is something I really liked. Shadowboxing classes are offered by the company for customers who want to get to grips with the basics of boxing and kickboxing before they purchase their bags, wraps, and trackers.
FightCamp has its downsides, which may or not turn people off.
The system is huge. The bag can take up valuable space in a small apartment. Some may be happy with it, while others might find it problematic. This system might appeal more to people who have a bigger home or garage. This was not an issue for me since I had enough space.
FightCamp’s main problem is the lack of a TV. Once you have done enough training, you will be able to follow the instructor without looking at the screen.
The content is simple and clear. The coaches provide the right mix of encouragement and instruction to keep users motivated and informed. I learned a lot.
There is however a learning curve. Before I connected my phone to my TV, I was constantly stopping the video to playback previous movements. This created a stuttering experience.
Once I had the TV hooked up and was able stream the workouts, it was much easier to follow along. I was able to see the movements clearly enough to be able to follow along. I learned to listen and understand that 1-2-3 stands for jab, cross, and lead hook.
I don’t know if my form is good, as there is no way for me to see that information from the trackers. For people like me who are looking for a sweat-producing workout, this probably won’t matter.
Is this really happening?
Zahar and the company plan to expand not only in content but also in trackers that can provide better feedback on forms as well as further gamify your workout.
He said, “Basically, we want to make your game controller” “The trackers allow you to use your body for a game controller,” he said.
People can now use data from punch trackers worn on their wrists to compare themselves and track their progress. Zahar plans to add foot trackers.
He said, “And then we want it to expand to all that a fighter touches to make it into connected fitness accessories.” You can think of anything, from jump ropes to battle ropes, kettlebells, or plyoboxes, that will reward you for every move you make during your workout.
Zahar does not want FightCamp as an equipment-only exercise program. He said that the additional trackers and content that doesn’t require a punching box will help FightCamp achieve that goal.
FightCamp is increasing its free content. FightCamp recently announced that it will be offering more than 100 free workouts every week. These workouts are “tracker-optional,” meaning they are free and do not require punch trackers. These workouts will include shadowboxing, stretching, kickboxing, and body weight exercises. These free workouts are currently only available on the iOS app, as the Android app is still in beta.