Liteboxer consists of a padded floor area attached by a post to a shield-shaped target that you hit. There is a holder on the post for a tablet or phone that you have provided. Access to the company’s content via the app costs US $ 29 per month – nothing works without it.
The app offers a few options for training. We found the funniest part of the punch tracks. You call up a song like Pitbull’s “Fireball” or Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and when the music starts you try to hit different parts of the target when they light up. When in Freestyle mode, you can create your own combos or sing along to different music played by your tablet. Liteboxer records how many hits you have thrown and how strong they are on a scale of 1-5. There are also clinics run by teachers. In these “coaching classes” you will learn different combinations of strokes with the lights on the sign. There is a duck and roll motion between a few strokes, and the instructor usually does some stretches at the end.
A 10-minute training session led by a trainer named Myles and accompanied by Motown music went by in a flash. It was one of the courses marked as beginner content, but this is what you need to look for – there is no in-app categorization of courses for beginners versus advanced and experienced boxers. I found it pretty easy to toggle between looking at the screen for instructions and looking at the lights on the sign when I hit. But while the instructors talk about how your body should be positioned and the number of punches, there is no way for the system to provide feedback on your technique – and I knew my roles and right uppercut weren’t going to win any prizes .
Punching the target areas on the sign didn’t feel as stiff as I thought when I first looked at the metal and plastic liteboxer gear. My brother-in-law Joe, who stopped by to try it, said it felt like a heavy bag, with “just enough give”. He was an Army ROTC instructor responsible for getting students in shape and I could tell he originally considered the Liteboxer to be a fun arcade game – much like Dance Dance Revolution for your first. But after 15 minutes of trying to get the strength rating above three – which he did briefly by stabbing on “Pump Up the Jam” – he’d worked up a sweat and moved the liteboxer platform a few inches off the floor .
The biggest downside is one that many of these new internet-connected fitness machines share: you often go to them to work out only to find that you need tech support first. Is the tablet connected to a WiFi network? Is the tablet connected to the Liteboxer via Bluetooth and an external Bluetooth speaker (helpful for making the music and instructions louder)? Is the bluetooth speaker charged?
Liteboxer’s app is also prone to crashing or freezing – and I’ve tried two different versions, one that was released on the app stores and a new version that is still in development. It’s no fun putting three minutes into a ten-minute routine and then having to fiddle with your technology to restart it. (Some online reviews of the Liteboxer app complain about the same problem.)
I also wanted a better way to measure the effectiveness of my training. A rough count of calories burned – not just punches thrown – would be nice, and perhaps a leaderboard that allows me to compare my strength and accuracy on a given workout with others who have done the same workout. (Liteboxer’s head of marketing Scarlet Batchelor says a leaderboard is in the works.) One of the most fun contests I got was picking a song that both Max, my 13 year old and I would punch on and see who landed the most punches in sync with the lights. (Answer: Max.)
My problem with all exercise bikes is that I don’t have the space to set up a full gym, and almost anything new will lose its shine after a few months. (The liteboxer takes up a footprint that’s slightly larger than six feet by four feet.) I’ve sometimes thought of a rental business that would give off a lightning-fast new device like the liteboxer and then swap it out for something else after three months. (Swap your peloton for a hydrow for a mirror for a FightCamp.) Perhaps the next great $ 1 billion business idea is someone with a van and a huge inventory of training equipment.
But until then, Liteboxer is playing in a crowded and competitive arena where most consumers choose one home fitness machine, not two or three – so finding a way to generate sales impetus and word of mouth will be crucial. (In our house, the fitness system I bought before the pandemic, the Cambridge-based Hydrow rowing machine, occupies that one slot.)
I can’t tell yet if the liteboxer will mold me into an Ali-like hunk, but it’s a stress reliever, and taking a lunch break to dance along to a three-minute Bon Jovi classic is a great way to get the blood running in front of mine big match with George Foreman flowed – or another Zoom meeting.
Scott Kirsner can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ScottKirsner.