I will forever maintain that boxing is one of the best cardio workouts that you can partake in, assuming that you give it your full effort. I say this from a place of experience — I've been training Muay Thai for some time now, which isn't straight-up boxing, but certainly employs many of the same fundamentals (plus kicking and all that fun stuff). Not only does the sport require you to have cardiovascular endurance, but it also calls for you to engage just about every muscle in your body (fun fact: All punches start from your legs, not your arms).
Even though Muay Thai is a huge passion of mine, trekking out to my gym isn't always feasible — it demands a lot of time and gas money. So, when I came across Dribbleup's Smart Boxing Gloves, I was immediately intrigued by the prospect of being able to conveniently train from home on the days that I couldn't make it out to my gym. You're telling me that I can whoop some metaphorical ass in my living room while I finish catching up on the latest season of Love Island? Deal.
After testing out the gloves, optional standing heavy bag, and the Dribbleup app for a whole month, I can safely say that Dribbleup pretty much nailed it with this piece of fitness tech. While I wouldn't recommend these gloves to those who are serious about learning the sport of boxing and getting legitimate training (for that, you should find a local boxing gym), I can definitely recommend them to someone who would prefer to be more casual about it and solely focus getting in a killer cardio session.
What on Earth are "smart" boxing gloves?
It seems like there's a "smart" version of everything these days, so who even knows what that means anymore.
When it comes to the Dribbleup gloves, though, the "smart" part refers to how the companion app tracks each and every punch that you throw, which then transfer over to the app stats so you can check your progress, take guided classes, and log your output from each workout.
OK cool. Do they work?
To my surprise...yes! They actually work really well. Pairing the Smart Gloves to my phone was a breeze, and the tracking for them was extremely accurate — the app barely ever missed a punch that I threw, no matter the speed or power. Better yet, it even tracked what kind of punch I threw, whether it was a jab, cross, hook, or uppercut. Just make sure that you're in view of your phone's camera while the app is running, and it'll be able to discern what exactly you're doing.
Are the gloves well-made?
The gloves are very sturdy and feel high-quality. They're pretty stiff out of the box, but as with all boxing gloves, you'll need to break them in over time. After my month of using them, they've started to feel much more comfortable.
My only issue with them is that I wish there were a bit more ventilation. The gloves get hot very quickly, which means your hands get sweaty very quickly, which means they start to stink very quickly. If you haven't owned a smelly pair of boxing gloves before, it's awful and I don't recommend it. Skip that step and pick up some glove deodorizers to get with this pair and you should be good.
How's the app and included classes?
The app overall is great — the UI is intuitive, and switching between on-demand classes, checking your stats, or joining a live session is easy. The sheer amount of classes to choose from is also very impressive. There are hundreds to pick from on demand, and the app also offers scheduled live classes every single day, which are just as fun and engaging as the others. You'll find courses on punching basics, quick combinations, core workouts, and much more within the app's vast library. You can even cast each class to your TV via Chromecast, Apple TV, or other screen mirroring device. Just note that there is a separate membership fee to get access to the app — $16.99 per month will unlock all of the content, and net you up to six profiles on your account to share with family or friends. If you don't already have a Dribbleup membership, you can get the gloves for $100 off the usual price (just $49.99), which is a nice little entry-level perk.
While I think each class is a very effective workout and the instructors are knowledgeable, I can't recommend them as a way of learning true boxing fundamentals. If you're passionate about the sport, nothing can beat going to your local boxing gym and getting one-on-one time with an experienced coach who can teach you the basics, as well as correct bad habits before they become a problem. Obviously, you won't get that with a virtual trainer — that's by no fault of their own, they just can't provide you with the same personalized experience because, well, they can't see you.
But like I said, if you're looking to just casually dip your toes in and you care more about simply getting your heart rate up over learning about good footwork and defense, then I can't see any issue with Dribbleup being your main source of boxing training. You should still check out a boxing gym if you're able to, though. They rock.
As for the stat progression aspect of the app, it's pretty bare-bones, but I think it gets the job done if you enjoy and are motivated by a visual representation of how far you've come. As you complete classes and challenges, you can earn points to boost your profile level and show off your high scores, which brings in a fun competitive component if that's something you're looking for. You can also track things like weekly reps, personal goals you've set, and class streaks.
What about the accessories? Do I need them?
While the standing heavy bag I received to test out was great, it wasn't all that different from any other standing bag I've used — the app is what tracks your punches, so there's no additional tracking you get from this particular bag. Unless you have the space for it and really want to do more than just shadow box, I think you can skip it. The whole point is convenience anyway, right? Why muck that up by lugging a six-foot boxing bag into your living when it's just going to get in the way?
One accessory I do recommend getting, though, is the Elite Stand. If you don't already have a mini tripod for your phone, this one is really well-made and ended up being a necessity for me each time I took a virtual class. Trust me, balancing your phone on a book isn't going to cut it when you're throwing hands all over the place, and the stand will help make sure you stay in view of your phone's camera at all times.
Are the Dribbleup Smart Boxing Gloves worth it?
If you want to get an intense cardio workout and a small taste of what boxing is all about, Dribbleup's boxing classes paired with the Smart Gloves are an excellent way to do that. Sure, you could probably just shadowbox with your bare hands along to a YouTube video, but there's something wonderful about actually wearing the gloves and seeing your progress in real time that you can't replicate by simply throwing punches in front of the mirror.
While you won't be getting traditional training, you'll definitely break a sweat (and maybe some of your favorite knick-knacks if you don't give yourself enough room to punch) and feel accomplished without ever having to travel to a gym. Overall, FightCamp (which uses more advanced tracking tech) is probably the better and more robust package, but Dribbleup is way more budget-friendly, so if you don't feel like shelling out a grand, Dribbleup is a more than worthwhile alternative.