I'm usually pretty self-motivated when it comes to exercise. I work out five times a week and have no trouble pushing myself through burpees, even during the pandemic.
That being said, I certainly miss some motivational aspects to working out at a gym — like-minded people, music blasting through the speakers and trainers shouting encouraging words — that just can’t be replicated at home. That's especially true when it comes to boxing classes, which is where I used to log my toughest workouts, emerging from an hour-long class drenched in sweat, my limbs feeling like noodles.
I’ve kept up shadowboxing workouts at home throughout the year, and they've helped me get back in shape after giving birth to my son in March. But anyone who loves boxing knows there’s something missing when you're throwing air punches alone in your living room.
That's why I was beyond excited to try FightCamp, a connected at-home boxing program, which I hoped would help take my at-home workouts to the next level.
The cost and equipment
To try FightCamp, you have to be willing to shell out some cash for the equipment. The full package — which includes a free-standing bag, workout mat, boxing gloves, wraps and trackers — will run you $1,219 (plus delivery). And the monthly app subscription required to access the workouts costs an additional $39 a month.
But if that's an amount you’re willing and able to part with, it is 100% worth it in my experience. Especially if you are someone who enjoyed boxing gyms and classes before COVID-19 and miss the unique workouts (both physical and mental) they provide.
There are chargeable trackers inserted into small holders in the quick wraps (one on each arm) that connect to your phone via Bluetooth. When you first open the app, it walks you through a quick 2-minute process to sync the trackers so that the app can track your punch count, rate and speed. Just like that, I had a boxing gym in my home.
The workout: Get ready to feel the burn
I started with the 15-minute intro class to get acquainted with the equipment. I expected the class to be easy given that I have some experience with boxing — and it definitely was not. I finished out of breath and dripping sweat, and my arms were on fire. After months of doing shadowboxing workouts at home, I forgot how much more intense it is hitting a bag versus the air, and how heavy the small weight of the gloves quickly feels. I clocked over 1100 punches in just the intro class alone. (I almost reneged on my plan to do a 30-minute workout afterward, but somehow found the willpower to forge ahead.)
Over the next two weeks I tried out a variety of different workouts. There are a dozen new workouts of various lengths added each week, and a huge library of hundreds of workouts to sift through in the app. You can sort by trainer, skill level or number of rounds. I usually picked my workout based on how much time I had. For the most part, eight-round (30-minute) workouts were my sweet spot, but I love the “quick workouts” tab where you can find four-round, 15-minute options for days when you don’t have much time. It’s rare when a 15-minute workout can actually leave me feeling accomplished, and I was able to work up a sweat in these short routines that lived up to any 40-minute workout I had been doing before.
There are six different trainers on the app, who are all professional fighters. I like that you can choose the coach who connects best with you. Shanie Smash is a mom of two and professional fighter and that really resonated with where I am right now in my life. I also really liked Aaron Swenson's technical workouts, which helped me master form and ensure I was throwing punches properly.
The high-intensity workouts follow a similar pattern: each round cycles between 30-second boxing combos and 30-second conditioning rounds (featuring body-weight exercises with a boxing twist, like squat-side kicks, lunge-punches and pushups), and then has a short rest before starting the next round. You are constantly shifting between combos and moves, which enables you to really push yourself. Right when the burn really starts to set in, the round is up and you’re onto the next combo.
If you’re someone who scrolls ahead in workout videos to see what you’re in for (like I do), then you’ll like the feature that details the whole workout round by round so you can see what’s coming next and mentally prepare.
I did way more ab work than usual during my time using FightCamp. At the end of the workout, every trainer encourages you to #endwithabs. Because the app has a large library of core workouts, it’s pretty much impossible to justify skipping it. I usually chose a quick 5-minute option and was shocked by how much my abs burned by the end. And the few times I went for a 15-minute routine, I cursed myself for being so ambitious. Burn is an understatement.
I found the lost motivation to push myself beyond my limits
Finding motivation to exercise is one thing, but finding that inner fire to push yourself and hit new milestones — instead of just going through the motions — is another. After almost a year of working out at home I had lost the motivation to really push myself during my workouts, and I had plateaued with my physical results. FightCamp helped me push through that wall.
The structure makes it easy to push yourself harder because you can focus on getting to the end of each individual round, which is much less daunting then focusing on the end of a workout that is 30 minutes away. The mental focus and energy it takes to nail complex combos also turns your attention away from how hard you're working. That’s not to say you don’t push through some serious burn (the plank punches are another level of torture), but you can do anything for 30 seconds, right?
The technology really taps into my competitive spirit, too. I’m not necessarily competitive by nature, but seeing my stats in classes like OrangeTheory and Flywheel motivates me to push harder and beat my personal records. I found that same motivation from following my punch count. Before each workout, you can choose who you want to compete against: the average FightCamp users' performance, someone else on the app, your own previous high score for that workout or just yourself with no benchmark numbers. The app then ranks you on a leaderboard based on your output (calculated by your intensity, speed and technique).
Seeing your stats at the end of each workout is really satisfying, and it makes you want to push harder to hit even higher numbers. The punch counter is a huge motivator when your arms are on fire, you’re out of breath and you feel like you can’t throw even one more punch, but somehow do. I was once so disappointed when I finished a workout with 1900 punches and thought about how if I could’ve hit 2000. I made a mental note for next time.
FightCamp really brings the spirit of a boxing gym into your home
Boxing has always been the workout that delivers the best results for me. It gives me the best cardio and endurance workout, the best physical results in terms of toning my muscles and building strength and the best mental benefits, helping me relieve stress and clear my mind. And FightCamp allowed me to tap into all of that right in the comfort of home during a time when getting those benefits in a boxing gym isn’t an option.
In just two weeks of using the program, I'm starting to see definition in my arms, back and core that I hadn’t quite been able to chisel out with other workouts. And I feel stronger (mentally and physically), less frazzled and more in control of my body and my mental state. I still haven’t dug into the full extent of the workouts, but I plan to try out some of the more intense classes that bring plyometrics into play.
When I toss off my gloves and snooze my trackers, I feel that high I once had walking out of a boxing class in New York City. For me, that feeling is worth every penny.
Connected fitness equipment is expensive, and the cost is a pretty substantial barrier to entry for most people. You also need space and a lot of it — a boxing bag isn’t a small piece of equipment you can tuck under your bed when not in use. So this may not be the best option for someone living in a studio apartment. That being said, if you’re a big boxing fan and the real estate is worth it to you, the monochromatic color scheme is aesthetically pleasing enough.
Like any boxing workout, it can be easy to fall into bad form, especially as you tire. It’s possible to throw punches and kicks incorrectly, and it doesn’t feel good when you do. Without a trainer there to keep an eye on your form, it’s all on you to make sure you maintain it throughout the workout as your muscles fatigue. At one point I began to feel it a bit in my shoulders, so I mentally readjusted and made sure I was using my legs to power my punches more. I recommend going slow and taking the time to watch each short instructional video to learn proper form before diving in.
I would recommend this workout to:
- People considering a Peloton, but not convinced they love spinning enough to make the commitment
- Those who miss in-person boxing classes
- People who are fed up and stressed about being stuck at home and need to hit something
- Those who are motivated by stats and numbers
- People who are in good shape and ready to push themselves to the next level
- Anyone who wants to lose weight or finally see muscle definition