Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Eight months into the pandemic, I wrote about my experience with Liteboxer. Billed as the Peloton of boxing, it’s a sturdy machine you can install in your home. Wearing boxing gloves, you stand on its platform and punch lighted targets to music. And it’s terrific. But I saw three drawbacks: You need the space for it, it’s expensive, and man did my hands hurt after each session from punching the targets. But the company has come up with a virtual reality version of it that eliminates all of those drawbacks while maximizing all of the original’s benefits.

Liteboxer VR is simply spectacular – easily my favorite tech product of the year so far. You need to first get an Oculus Quest 2 ($400 at Costco) – which is a virtual reality goggle and two handheld remotes. Once you’ve logged into your Oculus account, you download the Liteboxer VR app and sign up. There are two versions available: A freemium subscription (no credit card needed) and a premium $19/month version. If you’re like me, you will be hooked in the first session.

Having tried the physical version, I can tell you it’s really similar to the virtual version. But the latter is way better and more immersive. Once you log in, a trainer comes into view – life size – and explains what you can do in the app and how to stand and throw punches. From there, you see a menu of your options. You can take classes with the brand’s network of trainers, learning technique and punching the lighted targets in time to music. You can do sparring classes and mitt drills. And you can do QuickPlay/Punch Tracks, which lets you choose from a menu of songs and punch the lighted targets. Whichever training session you choose, the app keeps track of your punching efficiency score – essentially how many targets you hit out of how many you could have hit – and your punching velocity. It’s fascinating.

I admit I don’t have much upper body strength. But after going even just the first three workouts with Liteboxer VR, my arms are sore and some of the flab is tightening up. Best of all, I’ve been working up a cardio sweat while having a great time. It’s so much more interesting, entertaining and captivating than biking or running – which are two exercises I do literally everyday.

And if you’re worried about punching furniture or a wall, don’t. I set up an area in my family room of maybe 6 feet in diameter. The Oculus lets you define the space you need for each activity. And if you come near the edge of that space while punching, a large grid suddenly appears before your eyes, letting you know to step back into your space.

All I know is that a week into using this, I actually feel like I’m in better condition, stronger and faster. My non-techy wife has also taken to Liteboxer VR, and has been awed by its capabilities. I’ve told several friends about it and each wants to give it a go. I’m not sure if the idea for this arose from the pandemic, but it is a perfect workout for the times because you can do it at home with no one around you, and there’s no gear to put away afterwards. I hope that this type of inventive VR workout is a sign of things to come – combining the best of technology with real-life exercise.

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