Have you ever been in a fight? No, not on Twitter. I mean a real fight, you know, with your fists? If not, then Hykso’s $150 (£113) FightCamp punch trackers probably aren’t your bag. The wearable is designed to provide the hard-hitting boxer within you valuable insight about your performance, and show you how you stack up compared to other users when paired with the company’s FightCamp streaming exercise platform. Think Peloton, but for boxing. The problem is, one of them would be much better served by an actual in-person class, while the other is riding a stationary bike.
Hykso’s punch trackers are a pair of compact motion sensing devices that track the movements of your hands when you punch—measuring the count, type, speed, and “intensity” of your punches. Their rectangular shape evokes the image of a flash drive from the near future. LEDs in the centre indicate when the trackers are awake and connected. Blue and red lights indicate left and right hands, respectively.
Each one sits atop your wrist, covered at least twice over with your hand wraps, and then by your actual boxing glove. Don’t worry about left or right trackers too much; you can swap the trackers in the app if you’ve already wrapped them up. When you’re done, just slide the sensors back in the charging case, which uses a built-in USB-A male connector rather than a traditional female charging port, be it USB-C or Micro-USB. Odd choice. Poor choice.
Speaking of wraps, securing the punch trackers is a pain in the ass. After you get your hand wraps on, you have to balance the tiny sensors on your wrist while you very gently attempt to cover them with your hand wraps. There’s no clip-on mechanism, no magnetic attachment, just two minutes of balancing and quiet swearing.
These things are quite novel, and speak to the growing trend in exercise and wellness in general: it doesn’t count unless you log it. I blame the nerd in me for strongly identifying with this feeling, but I hate running without tracking my distance or route, and lifting weights was a chore until I started logging those to track my progress, or lack thereof. Meditating means more often than not setting a timer using my preferred meditation app, or using the timer on my watch when my phone isn’t nearby. Basically, I’m a sucker for quantified data detailing the performance of my human meat form.
The idea is that the company’s at-home FightCamp streaming exercise service, at $39 (£29) per month, will provide you on-demand exercise videos while gathering that tantalizing exercise data. The subscription comes with a free pair of punch trackers. An optional $500 (£377) purchase will get you a punching bag, boxing gloves, and a yoga mat. Just mail those trackers back if you decide to cancel your service.
You’ll need an iOS device with an HDMI cable or an Apple TV if you want to watch these workouts on your TV. Four new workouts are added to FightCamp’s library each week, and you can compare your performance to other users who’ve done the same class. If that sounds familiar, you can thank the recent streaming exercise fad. Sure, you can claim otherwise and dig up your aunty’s Tae Bo tapes, or some P90X DVDs you’ve got in a drawer somewhere, but this is on a whole different level.
The most high-profile example of this streaming exercise movement is the Peloton spin bike and treadmill, which requires you spend over $2000 (£1509) on hardware like a 135-pound spin bike with a giant touchscreen, along with a $35 (£26) monthly subscription for access to on-demand classes.
In Hykso’s case, that hardware you’ll need is a smartphone, a pair of punch trackers, and an optional 260-pound punching bag. The thing is, Peloton’s polish is worth the price of admission, while FightCamp just makes me feel like my time would be better spent in an actual gym. Form is a lot easier to screw up in boxing compared to cycling on a spin bike. Throwing the wrong jab could leave you with a sprained wrist, and you can’t exactly nail your form by watching a training video.
So to get myself into blogging shape—and absorb some lessons from an actual boxer—I took a group boxing class (coincidentally located less than 20 feet away from a Peloton store). It went about as well as I expected.
The end result of my hour-long boxing session left me with sore arms, burning quads, and data about my performance. Included was the number of punches, average punch velocity, and an “intensity score,” along with the knowledge that my left hook is the most powerful punch in my arsenal. I averaged 36 punches per minute, and was able to see when during my training session I was able to reach double-digit speeds, though I had an average punch velocity of 7.2 miles per hour (by comparison, professional boxers can reach speeds of over 30 mph). I know: I’m a monster.
FightCamp knows its audience: white women who already own a Peloton bike.
Oh, here’s a tip for all you boxers out there: after you wrap your trackers to your wrist, but before you strap those gloves on, be sure to get the app up and running. I learned this the hard way. After wailing on a water-filled punching bag and engaging in some strenuous burpees and lunges, I checked on my results to find...none. My workout session hadn’t been recorded, meaning all data concerning my punches had been lost to time. Fun.
Punch tracking happens in real-time, perfect for colour commentary from someone else while you wail on your bag. You can also create re-usable customised drills for sparring, shadow boxing, or heavy bag hitting. If you want to get more granular, you can also set timers for both rounds and resting sessions.
Sure, it’s helpful to know how quickly someone can catch these hands, but knowing how fast and/or furious your punches are is not the most useful information for someone who doesn’t fight for a living. $150 (£113) is a lot to spend on that sort of specialised fitness equipment. That’s the price of a decent smartwatch, like a Fitbit Versa.
Your Versa can track your running, biking, and heart rate, among other activities. These punch trackers do one thing, and unless you’re serious about training for a match or know you can commit to an exercise regimen, they're gonna be a bit overkill for you. Sorry, but you have to suck it up and take an actual boxing class if you want to be a student of the sweet science. I’m still a fan of the hardware and philosophy behind it, if only for the reward of data at the end of a strenuous hour spent beating the living crap out of a bag full of water. But leave the at-home workout to the professionals, and go punch some meat or something.
- Punch sensors are great for boxers looking to analyse performance metrics like speed, punch rate, and punching habits.
- FightCamp service isn’t compelling enough to pay $39 (£29) monthly fee.
- The complete kit is a pricey $500 (£377), which could pay for quite a few actual boxing lessons.