The ESPN Kickboxing Trainer ($89 – $129) is a somewhat diminutive kick boxing trainer. Its purpose is to provide a real-time targeting system for boxing, kicking, or a combination of the two. While the trainer could be used as a dummy trainer without them, six sensors on the unit light up in various positions, providing targets for the user to punch or kick.
Basic Information and Usage
The kit comes with a main punching bag, set of (rather small) gloves, an electronic controller, and a base that holds the entire thing together.
To engage, the user selects a skill mode (Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced) and a training mode (Boxing, Kick Boxing, Combo1, or Combo2). The user then dons the gloves and hits any one of the sensors to start a “round”. Depending on the skill and mode, the unit’s targets light up and the user must hit the sensors in a pattern for one to three minutes. After the “round” has completed, the unit then rates the skill of the user, effectively knocking down or boosting up the skill level for the next round. Wash, rinse, repeat for as many rounds as desired. The unit shuts itself off after five minutes if the user is knocked out. Just checking to see if you are reading this. It shuts off if no activity is detected.
The unit requires 3 AA batteries for the electronics and 90 pounds of water (or sand) as a means to weigh down the stand. Completely assembled, it stands about 63 inches, but you could put the stand on a set of cinder blocks to add height to it if needed. (Just be wary of the cinderblocks during the kicking rounds.)
This unit is actually interesting, if not unique, to assemble and fairly simple in concept. The main “bag” portion is simply an inflatable tube through which a stabilizer bar is placed. The bar is then inserted into the base that is then weighted down with either 90 pounds of sand or water.
A sleeve (or sheath) with the electronic sensors is then wrapped around the bag and is attached to the electronic module (powered by the 3 AA batteries). It is a very simple assembly process in concept. Ahem.
The first problem I had was in removing the plastic plug from the base in order to insert water as the weight. It finally took two screwdrivers (the metal kind) and about seven minutes to get it off.
Next came the size of the fill hole – it’s smaller than the size of the gallon water jug I had intended to use to fill it.
That meant that I needed a funnel (don’t have one of those lying around too often) or a garden hose that I could attach to my washer input line and thus fill it that way. But the fill hole is also smaller than the size of the garden hose’s coupling. If I had had 90 pounds of sand available I’d still have the same need for a funnel. So in this respect it must be noted that assembly can be problematic.
The next major assembly issue involved inflating the bag: Although the need for a pump is mentioned on the box, the beefiness of the said pump is not emphasized. I’ve inflated other items in the past with wimpy bicycle pumps without problems but be forewarned that a beefy pump is needed for this.
Once installed, it does work pretty well. I tried out the expert mode and the machine, after three minutes, decided I was actually in the beginner mode. I found that I had to punch the targets a little harder than I had expected in order for the targets to register, but that could be because the bag may have needed more air (I was kind of burned out of the device after having futzing with the assembly and didn’t want to drag in my big pump again.)
I think the height of the unit may be a problem for taller folks, but remember that you have a tendency to duck down when in the fighting stance so that can mediate some of the height issues. There may also be a problem with the weight of the stand – a larger or stronger punch or kick could cause too much recoil to the point of being annoying. I found the gloves a little constricting too, but that may be the nature of kick boxing gloves in general. I know that they would become soaked and smelly if I used the trainer every other day. I would probably wind up buying a more robust set of gloves or going gloveless.
Overall, this is a pretty good deal. You get a fairly decent exercise trainer, gloves, and an interactive targeting system for a good price. But it takes a little consideration ahead of time before making the investment: where do you put it; will you fill it with water or sand and how will that process be achieved; will it be too small to bother with, and how could I remove it if I want to sell it or move it to another area of the room or floor.
Had I known about these issues ahead of time I could have prepared a funnel, a second screwdriver, and my mighty air pump. Knowing these things, it is an inexpensive and not-to-difficult way to try out a new exercise toy. And it does work. And it’s kind of fun. It would also make a very cheap and effective way to entertain kids that are coming over for holiday vacation or a way to entertain any holiday guest for that matter.
A few years ago I had also tried out the SlamMan boxing device. SlamMan was more rugged but also much much heavier and required 250 pounds of water or sand. It also made beeping noises that made my dog angry and I had to finally sell it. Selling it was easy but getting it out of the basement was hard; I had filled it with sand and there was no way to orient the base to dump the sand out. Just FYI.