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.
The workouts had the feel of my two-hour workouts in a Virginia boxing gym condensed into sub-30-minute routines. Despite the shorter time, every part of my old workouts, from technique training to speed, strength, and core work, had some representation in every FightCamp session.
The workouts are highly motivating, and the five coaches (four male and one female) are excellent at doling out encouragement. In addition, the coaches project excitement about the workouts to the users, making the exercise feel much more fun than grueling. To get a taste, take a look at the free workouts FightCamp posts on its website.
Get in the Ring
Boxing can feel intimidating, even if you’re not facing off against an opponent. The terminology and proper form can seem inscrutable to someone new to it. FightCamp’s training simplifies the sport for beginners with well-explained movements taught by actual fighters. The workouts range in skill and fitness level from beginner to advanced, so you can grow your skills over time.
In addition to the pre-workout primer, there’s a whole category of short how-to videos that will walk a user through the finer points of boxing and kickboxing, from the proper form of individual punches and kicks to how to slip a punch. For example, in that video, coach Aaron Swenson says, “Make them miss, so you can make them pay,” which was one of my favorite adages from my own real-life boxing coach.
As of this writing, the FightCamp app is available only on iOS devices, so if you’ve got an Android phone, you’re out of luck. (However, iPhone owners can sync their FightCamp workouts to Apple Health Kit.) One other hiccup: To weigh down the heavy bag you fill its base with water, so if you don’t have access to a hose, your first workout will be a few hundred laps from the sink or bathtub with a bucket. Even when the base was full of water, I found that I was knocking it around quite a bit, but I’m a reasonably big puncher. Adding some sand to the base and then filling it the rest of the way with water provided enough weight to keep the bag steady, but it was a chore to set up.
When I was growing up, boxing was my primary way to compete and stay in shape for football and wrestling during the off-season. The workouts helped with strength and endurance, and the coordination and improved reaction time boosted my performance in every other sport. FightCamp manages to take my two- to three-hour training sessions and condense them into manageable 15- to 30-minute workouts.
Most of all, the joy of pounding away at a heavy bag is cathartic in a way that can’t be matched with other workouts. After a few rounds with FightCamp, all of the aggression you’ve built up during your commute or workday just burns away. There’s also something very empowering about learning how to throw a good punch or kick and hearing the satisfying thwap when you land a solid hook. You don’t have to be a sociopath to enjoy knowing you can protect yourself, and even if you never need to throw a punch in self-defense, it’s good to know you could if you had to.
Update, July 20, 2021: This review was updated to correct an error in the number of workouts available in the app. There are over 1,000 workouts available.