There are countless ways to get fit that don’t involve getting punched in the face. This is probably why you’ll see most people riding a Peloton bike or lifting weights instead of walking into their local boxing gym in their quest to get into shape. But boxing for fitness has grown into an activity with a vibrant subculture, mostly thanks to its gradual move out of dank gladiatorial dungeons and into boutique gyms. This growth spurt makes sense, as boxing is a terrific workout that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and body types.

Throwing Hands

FightCamp is a connected workout system created with the aim of bringing real boxing training into the home. The Personal package ($1,219) I tested comes with everything required to do boxing or kickboxing training in your living room or garage: a heavy bag, a workout mat, gloves, hand wraps, and a pair of digital punch trackers that you wear near your wrists. The bag stands up on its own thanks to the weighted base, so you don’t need to hang it from an overhead beam like a traditional heavy bag. The workout mat forms an eight- by four-foot workout space in front of the bag. If you already own or have access to a heavy bag, you can opt for the Connect package ($439) that includes just the hand wraps and the digital punch trackers.

The trackers pair with the FightCamp app, which provides over 1,000 workouts, along with extra content and tutorials. The workouts offer a combination of punches, kicks, core work like planks and sit-ups, and leg movements like squats and lunges. When choosing workouts, badges on the workout descriptions indicate whether or not an activity has kicks as well as punches, are designed for left-handed boxers (southpaws), or are strictly core workouts, among other variables.

FightCamp’s heavy bag sits on a weighted stand, so you don’t need to find a way to hang it from the ceiling. 

Photograph: FightCamp

The workouts are accompanied by a selection of streaming music stations that play EDM, rock, pop, and hip hop. The songs seem specially chosen to get your heart racing, with upbeat selections from artists like Meek Mill and the Strokes.

Bringing some 21st-century tech to the ancient sport, FightCamp workouts are recordings streamed to the app on an iPhone or iPad. Additionally, you can stream the workouts to a TV from your iOS device using AirPlay. The punch trackers are thumb-drive-sized Bluetooth gizmos that fit into the hand wraps and count your punches as you work out. The number of your strikes shows up on screen during your workout. This feature allows you to track your improvement and see how well you match up against other people who’ve done the same workout. Additionally, each workout lists a goal punch count as a motivational boost. This also helps you track your progression over time as you watch your punch count creep up over weeks and months of boxing workouts.

In addition to the cost of the equipment, FightCamp requires a monthly membership payment of $39 to access the streaming workouts and tutorials.

Main Event

As a former boxer, I’m simultaneously excited and dismayed about boxing’s demographic shift from battle-hardened warriors slugging it out to average Joes just trying to stay fit. While it’s great to see more people enjoying the fitness benefits and the fun of hitting a heavy bag, I would constantly worry about the poor quality of boxing skills taught in these cardio-boxing boutique classes.

My worry about FightCamp’s approach diminished as soon as I streamed my first workout. The trainer, FightCamp cofounder and former US National Team boxer Tommy Duquette, took me through the fundamentals of the four punches that would be in the workout: the jab, the straight right, and left and right hooks. His instruction mirrored what I learned when I fought, from planting the feet and twisting your hips to keeping your elbow level with your fist when throwing hooks.

What followed was a shoulder- and lung-burning 15 minutes of combinations and speed work as well as core strength and leg movements. The workout had plenty of variety, and the punch counter was a great motivator to move faster and put in more work.