The $1,800 Home Boxing Gym That Gave Me A Mean Right Hook
In Test Ride, TZR staff reviews the popular fitness workouts, equipment, and trends making waves in the wellness industry to see what all the buzz is about.
I’ve gone through a number of fitness phases over the years. I’ve been an avid outdoor runner, hot yoga enthusiast, and amateur boxer. The latter in particular was my preference until, well, March 2020. Although I consider myself a lover not a fighter, hitting a punching bag for 45 minutes to a Cardi B playlist did wonders for my mental health. I always walked out of my boxing classes feeling energized and stress-free. Since then, I’ve struggled to find an at-home workout that kept me motivated in this way. So when I had the opportunity to review the buzzy Liteboxer, I jumped at the chance to recapture the magic.
For those unfamiliar, Liteboxer is an immersive, home boxing gym that consists of an activity platform and shield (in lieu of a bag) with LED light pads that sync to your music or workout and help guide your punches and track your progress. The shield pairs with the Liteboxer app, which features a variety of training sessions, freestyle options, and “punch tracks” to create a workout playlist of your choice to, well, punch to. Essentially, the technology is like having a sparring partner that belts Drake and Nicki Minaj while you go at it. Think Peloton for boxing.
According to the site, the concept of Liteboxer (founded in 2017) derived from co-founder Todd Dagres’ lackluster home experience with a traditional boxing bag. “When Todd brought home a heavy bag to replace the inconvenience and cost of the gym, the experience wasn’t the same,” reads the Liteboxer site. “He missed the exhilaration and motivation of a sparring partner. And with that, the idea for Liteboxer was born.”
Here’s the thing: At $1,695 for the starter kit (which includes a Liteboxer, gloves, wraps, and free one-month membership trial) and $1,795 for the pro kit (which comes with Liteboxer floorstand, no-slip mat, gloves, wraps, and one-month trial), this system is definitely an investment. So, in the name of research, I decided to test the equipment for myself and see if it lived up to the hype... and price tag.
There’s nothing light about about the Liteboxer. Considering the equipment is designed to withstand human weight and consistent aggressive blows to its infrastructure, it comes as no surprise that the mechanism is heavy and cumbersome. In arranging its delivery, I foolishly opted for self-setup. What arrived were two large, heavy boxes that were difficult to maneuver around my tiny one-bedroom apartment. The instructions for setting up the Liteboxer were fairly thorough and all the necessary bolts and tools were provided, but it was a lengthy process for one person... about two hours. For those not handy with a wrench, I recommend opting for setup assistance.
As you can see in the imagery splashed all over the Liteboxer Instagram account and website, the equipment requires a tablet or phone, which is placed under the shield for viewing your sessions and progress. That said, neither equipment package (both starter and pro) come with a tablet, which I believe to be the best option as an iPhone or even any large smartphone just isn’t large enough for adequate viewing during a high-moving class. Also, I found the tablet stand to be inconvenient from a placement perspective as it draws the eyes downward during a workout. A typical workout class or even streaming class would place the trainer around eye level, which also makes it easier to pause or tap through the app, which is definitely my preference.
In my initial first two weeks, I attempted to use my iPhone 12 Max Pro for my classes and struggled to follow along and mimic the movements on such a small screen. I eventually reached out to the Liteboxer team to advise on how to proceed for a better user experience and the team sent me a tablet. Game-changer!
As for the platform itself, I found it to be a bit large for my apartment (that already houses a Peloton bike), and — as I mentioned — it’s quite heavy, so moving it around is not really a one-person job. However, it seems this issue has already been addressed as Liteboxer announced on Nov. 3 the addition of a wall mount option, priced at $1,495 — so there you go!
To gain full access of Liteboxer’s library of 300+ trainer workouts, the monthly app membership (29.95/ monthly, $27.50 a month/yearly, $26.67 a month/18 months) is required. Sans membership, your access to sessions is pretty limited, so for my review, I signed up for the 30-day trial to make sure I had no limitations.
With the membership, Liteboxer workout classes are divided into three categories: Trainer, Sparring Sessions, and Build + Restore. All workout options as well as Punch Tracks (more on those in a bit) guide your movements with rapid lights that direct you to the correct mark on your Liteboxer shield. When you hit the mark correctly, it will light the mark in green. If you hit the wrong mark or offbeat, it will light up red. The goal is to hit at the pace of your trainer and track! Throughout the class, your progress is tracked as the app marks the punches you’ve hit correctly and those you’ve missed.
Trainer classes essentially break down workouts by a specific trainer, and the sessions’ content (music playlist, pace, movements, combinations) is dependent on the trainer’s personal style. These are typically 15-, 20-, 30-, 45-, or 60-minute classes that include sparring sessions as well as strength-training and recovery. Sparring sessions are typically quick two-song or three-song sessions that are simultaneously guided and DIY in that Liteboxer trainers walk you through a specific sparring combination in the beginning of the class and then allow you to apply what you learned to the session’s designated playlist. Build + Restore sessions offer cross-training options for those who want to add some yoga, strength and conditioning, meditation, or a restorative warmup or stretch session to the mix.
For those days you’re short on time and want to choose your own adventure, so to speak, there’s the Punch Track option that allows you to choose a single song and spar along to the track’s unique pre-planned combination (the shield’s lights guide you through these). And if you really want to fly solo, there’s the Freestyle option that allows you to punch as you please, with zero lights to guide you.
I’ve made the mistake in the past of jumping into a new workout with a bit too much gusto. I’ll take on hourlong sessions or more advanced classes too quickly, which can be detrimental physically (as you risk hurting yourself) and emotionally (as you risk not living up to your own expectations). For my Liteboxer trial, I chose a more gradual approach and stuck to shorter Trainer and Sparring classes (10-, 15-, and 20-minutes in length) that fell into the beginner category. I love that the Liteboxer app allows you to filter your sessions by the level of experience and offers a garden variety for those just dipping their toes in.
My goal for the first 10 days was to simply get my stance and form right and get comfortable with the equipment and movement as it had been a while since I’d done a boxing workout. There are six signature punches employed in Liteboxer sessions: Nos. 1 and 2 are high jabs to the head with your left and right arms respectively, Nos. 3 and 4 are jabs to the body, and 5 and 6 are uppercuts to the lower body. Most sessions on the Liteboxer app will incorporate a punching combination (or several) using these six moves, so memorizing them and getting my body used to each movement in those initial classes were key for me. In addition to these arm movements, legs and lower body positioning are crucial as is keeping your face guarded at all times. While this may seem simple enough, keeping all these components in mind can be difficult once the music and punching sequences get going.
In those initial weeks, I quickly discovered trainers I gravitated toward, particularly Mary O and Jill Barger. For me, music and a trainer’s energy and personality can make or break a workout. Exercise can feel like a chore, so it’s important for me to have fun and look forward to a session as opposed to viewing it as something unpleasant to check off my list for the day. I loved Mary and Jill’s song selections (I’m typically drawn to pop and hip-hop playlists) and their careful guidance throughout each workout. Trainer sessions can move rapidly, and one can easily get off-track in a workout, so it’s helpful when trainers keep it positive and upbeat and give you moments to reset and get back into the punching sequence if you’ve lost your way.
After those initial one to two weeks, I decided to try longer classes and opted for those in the 30- to 45-minute range. Because of the constant movement and the energy expended into every punch, I found 45-minute sessions to be pretty intense. For me, staying motivated for an entire hour can be difficult in a solo setting, even when there’s a virtual coach leading me through the process. And while a great workout, I actually found myself preferring the shorter 15- to 20-minute high-intensity Trainer, Sparring, or Punch tracks.
As I mentioned before, I’ve taken group boxing classes before, but I forgot just how much of an impact it can have on the body and hands. I also forgot how hard it can be to keep up with the combinations and pace of the movements. To be honest, for a longer boxing workout of 45 minutes or more, I still prefer an in-person experience over a virtual one. For me, I find it easier to stay motivated for longer periods of time when other people are in the room with me punching along and there’s a live instructor cheering me on and walking me through the movements and adjusting my technique (I appreciate real-time feedback and adjustments!).
That said, I found my sweet spot with the Liteboxer in the quick Trainer sessions and Punch Tracks, which I would fit in right before lunch time to break up my workday. The quick session got my heart rate going and served as the perfect midday surge of energy. I also enjoyed the Punch Track option for this same reason. I’d select three or four songs and punch along until I got a good sweat going. The flexibility was great for me as it allowed me to easily incorporate exercise into a busy workday. These shorter workouts also did wonders for my stress and anxiety. After a quick 10-minute punch session, I definitely felt lighter and more eager to take on the rest of the day.
All in all, for those who are craving a good workout that isn’t running or a Peloton ride, the Liteboxer could be a great investment to explore. There’s plenty of variety in terms of workout options, and the equipment works well in home gyms in that it doesn’t use a lot of power and fits nicely into even smaller spaces, now that the wall mount is available. However, the equipment doesn’t come cheap. With any pricey fitness tool, the key here is to ensure you’re using it enough to justify the purchase.
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