Since the pandemic, I’ve naturally not been as outgoing as I’d like — mainly in terms of exercise. The winter months and late nights haven’t helped either. That’s why, on a whim, I bought myself a Peloton to improve my physical health and wellbeing. Since then, it’s opened up a whole host of exercises.
One such sport which has particularly taken my interest is boxing — yes, you can box with a Peloton Bike. In fact, I’ve combined that with my Oculus Quest 2 to take my training to a whole new level. Here’s how the unlikely pairing of my Peloton and Oculus Quest opened up my eyes to the reality of boxing.
How can you learn boxing with a Peloton?
When you think of Peloton classes, you immediately picture cycling right? Actually, you can do much more than that on the Peloton Bike ($1,495, Peloton). As well as cycling, there’s strength classes, cardio, pilates, yoga, meditation and bootcamp sessions to name a few. Then there’s the programs, which are set classes that you need to complete across several weeks. These essentially develop you in a chosen field such as core strength, or meditation to help you sleep.
However, one program which immediately caught my interest was Peloton Boxing. It runs for two weeks with 14 classes in total and needs about four days per week to complete. The first week is designed to take you through the fundamentals, while the second develops your skill. You can watch the classes straight from your TV, or your Peloton screen — I have the Bike+ model ($2,495, Peloton), so I could rotate the screen around to face my mat.
The idea of learning boxing really appealed to me, particularly because I’ve always been a Rocky fan, so I signed up. No equipment was required, but it needed dedication — I couldn’t do many other classes during that time. But, I gradually worked my way through. Learning the basics was really interesting; you don’t realize how tricky it is to punch without dropping your other arm! The instructors are effective at breaking down the moves and continually remind you to take your time to get the technique right before you work on speed.
By the time I reached the second week, the stance and movements felt more familiar — I could jab, cross, hook, uppercut, and duck with ease. But you don’t have time to slack off because you only get pushed harder. Each day you train, there’s a five minute full body warm up beforehand, followed by a 30-minute shadowboxing session, then finally a five minute stretch at the end.
These shadowbox sessions are also broken down into three minute rounds to simulate a real match. During these classes, you learn combinations of offense and defense and move around a lot more.
By the end of each day, I was definitely feeling it. I was sweating and needed to keep stopping for water. While this program pushed me, I loved it, particularly at the end of each session when they ask you to go all out and jab as fast as you can.
Once I’d finished the program, I felt proud of myself, but also a little saddened that I couldn’t put my skills into practice. I now had a basic understanding of boxing, but I wanted to know what being in the ring would really be like. That’s when I remembered a game on the Oculus called The Thrill of the Fight.
How do you box on the Oculus?
The Thrill of the Fight is essentially a virtual boxing game you will find on the Oculus Quest. You can enter a virtual gym to train up, and then fight opponents to hone your boxing skills. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I gave it a shot and told myself to try to stick to the techniques I’d been taught.
I had a go at sparring at first to get the gist of the gameplay. Needless to say, when your opponent starts blocking and jabbing, it makes things much more difficult. I had to stay still and couldn’t move around, but you still block and throw a punch as you usually would when you box — so it was pretty realistic. By the time I tried a ‘real’ fight in the gameplay, I found I was already out of breath. As the difficulty level gets harder you need to move faster, and because you can’t tell how well things are going during the match (you only find out who wins at the end), you push yourself to the limit.
I found I was physically exhausted by the end of the three-minute rounds, letting the full time lapse between the rounds to recover, rather than proceeding immediately. When you’re put on the spot with a virtual opponent, it’s very easy to forget the techniques and physically ‘button bash’ which I admit I did. It makes you realize how boxers need to keep their composure to fight effectively. It’s all about timing and moving quickly while contemplating the next move. By the end, I managed to stay standing to hear the verdict — I had somehow won, but I was shattered.
Now for the embarrassing part. I had to sit down immediately; my arms were like jelly, my legs had lost their balance and the silicone interface of my Oculus was covered in sweat. My partner wasn’t happy about that last part, but at least I know how to clean an Oculus.
That’s probably too much info there, but I want to stress how hard I was pushed. One full match was enough to exhaust me, and I felt the effects of it the following day in my arms. The pressure of having someone in front of you during a match certainly changes things, and I actually found it really motivating. I don’t think I would push myself as hard just practicing boxing on my own. The game comes with its own calorie counter, so you can keep an eye on your output as well.
First, I’m going to keep practicing until I’m more controlled and effective in a virtual match. Plus, I want to be able to handle a few more rounds before I’m so tired. I might revisit the Peloton Boxing program to hone my technique as well.
I’ve also spotted the Creed: Rise to Glory Quest game, which lets you fight opponents online — that sounds even more challenging. After that, the real thing awaits, but I’m not quite there yet.