Pack a Punch – The Boston Globe
Liteboxer consists of a padded floor that is attached via a pole to a shield-shaped target that you hit. On the station is a holder for a tablet or a phone that you provide. Accessing company content through its app costs $ 29 per month – you can’t do anything without it.
The app offers several ways to train. The most fun, we found, are the Punch Tracks. You throw a song like “Fireball” by Pitbull or “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, and when the music starts you try to hit different parts of the target when they light up. When you are in Freestyle mode, you can create your own combos or follow different music played from your tablet; Liteboxer keeps track of how many shots you’ve thrown and how powerful they are, on a scale of 1 to 5. There are also clinics run by instructors. These âtrainer classesâ teach you different combinations of hits using the lights on the shield. There are dodge and roll movements between some shots, and the instructor usually does a few stretches at the end.
A 10 minute workout led by a trainer named Myles, and accompanied by music from Motown, just passed. This was one of the classes tagged as beginner content, but you have to research them – there is no categorization in the application of classes for beginners, compared to intermediate boxers, compared to more experienced boxers . I found it quite easy to switch between looking at the screen for instructions and then looking at the lights on the shield when I hit. But while the instructors talk about how your body should be positioned and the number of each punch, there is no way for the system to comment on your technique – and I knew my rolls and my right uppercut weren’t going to win any awards.
The punching of the target areas on the shield didn’t feel as stiff as I thought it would when I first looked at the metal and plastic Liteboxer gear. My brother-in-law Joe, who came by to test it, said it looked like a heavy bag, with “just enough to give”. He was an Army ROTC instructor tasked with getting undergraduates in shape, and I could tell he initially viewed Liteboxer as an entertaining arcade game – kind of like Dance Dance Revolution for your firsts. But after 15 minutes of trying to get a force rating above three – which he did briefly, leaning over “Pump Up the Jam” – he had sweated pretty well and moved the Liteboxer platform a few minutes. centimeters on the ground.
The biggest downside is one shared by many of these new internet-connected fitness devices – you often approach them ready to work out, only to find that you need to do a little tech support first. Is the tablet connected to a WiFi network? Is the tablet connected via bluetooth to Liteboxer and to an external bluetooth speaker (useful for increasing the volume of music and instructions)? Is the Bluetooth speaker charged?
Liteboxer’s app also tends to crash or freeze – and I’ve tried two different versions, one that was released in app stores and a new version that’s still in development. It’s no fun spending three minutes in a ten-minute routine and then having to fiddle around with your tech to restart it. (Some online reviews of the Liteboxer app complain about the same issue.)
I also wanted a better way to assess the effectiveness of my training. A rough count of calories burned – not just throwing punches – would be nice, and perhaps a ranking that would allow me to compare my strength and accuracy on a given workout with others who have done the same workout. (Liteboxer’s marketing executive Scarlet Batchelor says a ranking is in the works.) One of the most enjoyable competitions I had was picking a song that Max, my 13-year-old son and I would punch myself, and see who landed the most punches in sync with the lights. (Answer: Max.)
My problem with all home exercise equipment is that I don’t have the room to set up a full gym, and just about anything new loses its luster after a few months. (The Liteboxer takes up a little more than three by four feet of floor space.) I’ve sometimes thought of a rental company that would drop off an awesome new device like the Liteboxer and then trade it in for something else after three months. (Trade your platoon for a Hydrow for a mirror for a FightCamp.) Maybe someone with a van and a huge inventory of exercise equipment is the next big billion dollar business idea.
But until then, Liteboxer is playing in a crowded and competitive arena, where most consumers will choose one home fitness device to buy, not two or three. It will therefore be essential to find a way to generate sales momentum and word of mouth. (In our house, the fitness system I bought before the pandemic, the rower made by Cambridge-based Hydrow, occupies this location.)
I can’t tell yet if the Liteboxer sculpts me into an Ali-like Adonis, but it’s stress relief, and taking a mid-day break to follow a three-minute Bon Jovi classic is a great way to go. ‘get the blood flowing before my big match with George Foreman – or yet another Zoom reunion.