As the name suggests, PunchLab is an app tailored to suit boxers of all fitness levels. The app focuses on other aspects of fighting as well, especially Muay Thai and MMA, but compared to boxing, the information on other martial arts is limited. In this PunchLab review, we’ll tell you all about what the app does, who it caters to, and what its main features are. We’ll also provide comparisons with a few other apps in the market, so that you have all the information at your disposal to make an informed choice.
Key takeaways & highlights
Install PunchLab if:
- You’re an avid boxer looking for training options at home
- You’re looking for training plans catering to all levels of boxing
- You want programs created by well-known trainers
- You want a cost-effective solution, one that doesn’t require you to spend huge amounts of money.
Don’t install PunchLab if:
- You’re not interested in taking up any kind of fight training
- You’re not looking for sport specific training and are happy with general fitness tips
- You’re not solely focused on improving cardiovascular fitness
The app was developed by PunchLab SRL in 2018 with the aim of providing home and gym-based fight training to athletes at every level, at an affordable cost. PunchLab was founded by Nicolò Paternoster, Simone Carcone, and Valerio Raco in Rome, Italy.
PunchLab has an average rating of 4.8 on Play Store, and 4.6 on Apple Store with mostly positive reviews. The developers are very responsive and receptive towards criticism. As a company, they are constantly evolving, and their approach shows that.
The app is free to download, and the majority of its offerings are free to use! The equipment required is minimal, and a boxing bag along with gloves are recommended. The training plans can be used for shadow boxing as well, if you don’t have equipment at hand, or are a beginner.
We’ll begin our PunchLab review by understanding what the app promises to do, followed by an analysis of how successful it is in its claim.
The main purpose of PunchLab is to work as a boxing training and HIIT timer. The app does it in two ways:
- It provides pre-made workout routines catering to a variety of fighting styles such as kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing, and MMA. These workouts are in video and audio formats, and you can choose what works best for you.
- If you don’t want to follow any structured training plan, you can simply use the timer to help you with your own circuits.
The most interesting feature of the app is its ability to analyze the quality of your punches and kicks! All you need is to mount your phone on the bag using a belt PunchLab provides (we’ll cover it in detail further in the review), and the app promises to track punch power, force, and number of counts.
In this section of the PunchLab review, we’ll look at the entire journey a user will take, from the moment they sign up on the app to exploring the workouts and following the training plans by themselves. Please note: this review was compiled based on version 3.8.5 of the android app.
Once the app has been downloaded, the user is asked to register by using either their email, or by linking their Facebook or Google account. The UI is minimalistic and easy to look at. It doesn’t have loud colors or fonts that many other combat sport apps might have.
Once registration is complete, you must fill out a questionnaire. The app is very intuitive and can generate a monthly plan for you based on your choices. The main questions are as follows:
- Do you have a bag? – yes/no/maybe in the future
- Fighting style – boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, or MMA
- Fitness level – are you out of shape or do you workout regularly and are very fit?
- Number of workout days: you can choose the number of days you’d like to devote to your training on a weekly basis
- Daily timings: you can decide on a time for each day selected
- Goals – lose weight, stay fit, become a better fighter
- Skill level – are you starting from scratch, or do you know the basics? You can select your level of expertise accordingly
- Statistics – details such as your gender identity, weight etc.
Please note, you can skip this step altogether and finish the registration process to check the app’s services out further. You can return to this step and create your plan whenever you want.
A feature that makes PunchLab stand out in a sea of countless other fitness apps is that you’re not required to enter payment details to explore the app. When we were using the app to write this PunchLab review, we weren’t even prompted to sign up for a trial! Membership options are available to the user, but the free account will provide access to most of the features, without spending a dime!
Core Features of the PunchLab App
There are 4 main features on the dashboard – timer, workout, plan, and account details. In this section, we’ll cover the first 3 sections in detail.
As the name suggests, the app provides the user with a basic timer. All you need to do is select the number of rounds and the duration of both round and rest times and you’re good to go.
The workouts section is the main part of the dashboard. If you’ve created a plan, this section will provide you with recommendations based on your choices. The workouts have a combination of general fitness routines, as well as sport specific training. This section is further divided into sub topics as shown below.
Selected for you
This section lists over 42 workout routines grouped by difficulty (easy, medium, and hard). Out of them, only 2 routines need a paid subscription! Each workout comes with a description, trainer name, objectives, duration, and calories burned, and equipment required. There is a section with detailed information of the steps.
Let’s explore some of the options!
- Low kicks fundamentals – created by Ox Williams, this workout focuses on perfecting the art of low kicks, which are known to be difficult to master. It’s a 15 min workout that takes you through the process safely.
- Elbow fundamentals 101 – created by Paul Banasiak, the routine takes the user through a series of moves to understand the mechanics of proper elbow techniques. The elbow joint is susceptible to injury easily, and the workout teaches correct techniques to avoid that.
- Basics of middle kicks – it’s a continuation of the series on kicks and is created by Ox Williams. It focuses primarily on correct usage of middle kicks.
- Knee strikes for MMA – a workout that focuses on another important aspect, that is knee strikes.
- Fight on the outside – it requires a fair level of skill and is not suited for beginners. The routine teaches you the fundamentals of long-distance moves, which is helpful in self-defense scenarios.
- Endurance/functional training – this is the first of many workouts that focuses on overall strength and conditioning that helps build a solid foundation.
- Sweet sweat – created by Bobbie Jo Davis this is a high intensity, calorie torching workout. It mixes kickboxing basics with a lot of aerobic work.
- Punch and move (Defense) – another workout by Bobbie Jo Davis, this routine follows her usual style of mixing aerobics with kickboxing, with a special emphasis on learning defense moves.
A premium feature, these classes are conducted in real time with participants from all over the world in a virtual setting. Some of the common topics include beginner basics, power – hooks to the body and head, and counter punches.
Collections consist of individual workout routines grouped into common topics. There are 7 at the time of writing:
- Learn the basics: as the name suggests, this contains all individual workouts focusing on the basics of kicks, punches, and other common boxing moves.
- Wake your body up: these are super short workouts (on an average of 6 minutes) that are designed to give you an energy boost. They can also be added to longer workouts to practice a specific skill.
- Box & Burn: these are mostly high intensity workouts focusing on increasing power and efficient strikes while burning some serious calories.
- Full body sweats: this collection consists of shorter workouts each focusing on a specific body part like abs, upper body, and lower body.
- Advanced techniques: a collection of evolving techniques meant for the advanced fighter.
- Beyond punches: mostly deals with lower body specific moves, with a few other disciplines thrown in as well.
- Favorites: this is where all your favorite workouts go!
Meet your Coaches
This section has a dedicated space allotted to each coach, along with their areas of expertise and programs on offer. Let’s look at who these coaches are.
- Coach Ox
- Arnie Abs
- Moise Scott
- Lauren Keenan
- Muay Thai Technician
- Sweat It Out with Sam
- Burrell Boxing
- Bobbie Jo Davis
Ask the group
This takes you to a community on Facebook or any other trackers that can be integrated with the app.
This is a straightforward section and shows what’s scheduled on a particular day. It has a weekly snapshot on top, with your goal for the day, and the workout that’s assigned to you.
These plans are not set in stone, and you can change or delete your plan in case you want to start fresh. Moreover, if you create a plan but don’t use it for a while, the app will automatically delete the previous plan and prompt you to create a new one from scratch. Pretty intuitive, right?
The app has two special features, and we’ll highlight them in this section of our PunchLab review.
True to its roots as an app for boxers by boxers, PunchLab provides every premium member with a free strap shipped straight to their address! The strap can be attached to the bag to hold your phone and allow the app to record your strike rate and power.
Daily reminder: It’s glove up time!
These are effective once a day reminder to motivate you to stick to the plan. Apart from this, the app doesn’t spam the user with notifications throughout the day! That increases ease of access and adherence to your goals.
Subscription & Paid Plans
PunchLab isn’t very clear about their payment plans. They don’t provide a free trial, and their plans are available only at an upfront payment for either 3 or 12 months.
When we contacted support while researching for our PunchLab review, we got a response clarifying that there were indeed no free trials, and the upfront payment allows them to ship their training strap to you. Membership charges are not the same everywhere, as the cost of logistics depends on your location. However, in most cases a membership would cost upwards of $4 USD per month.
PunchLab vs. Other Fitness Apps: is it better than the alternatives?
In this section of our PunchLab review, we’ll look at three other apps that are similar – Centr, Aaptiv, and Les Mills.
Centr and PunchLab are quite similar. They focus on combat sports and employ famous trainers as their ambassadors. Centr however covers a lot of options including meals, lifestyle, and wellness, whereas Punchlab only provides fight training. Therefore, Centr is more expensive as it covers more topics.
Another app that’s comparable in the segment is Aaptiv. It provides high intensity, cardio-based training which is quite like what PunchLab offers. As with Centr, Aaptiv covers a lot more topics than PunchLab and their monthly subscription is priced much higher. Check out our detailed review of Aaptiv here. Both apps offer a combination of audio and video workouts for the user to select from.
The final app we’ll look at is Les Mills. Compared to PunchLab, it provides a lot more variety in its workout selections and is more customizable. If you like working out to music and get bored easily with one dimensional workouts, Les Mills might be worth checking out. Their subscriptions fall in the same price range as the other apps mentioned in this review.
Final Review of PunchLab and Summary
From the outset, the app is clear on its purpose: to give boxers easy to use, at home training plans to maximize their potential, and it clearly delivers on its promise.
- Ease of use
- The coaches are real people and approachable
- The app is solely focused on combat sports and is great for those who are looking for a no-nonsense and distraction free way to train
- PunchLab provides customizable fight training to users of all physical levels
- The app is highly intuitive and will generate a 4-week plan for you. The only thing you need to do is fill up their questionnaire, simple!
- PunchLab provides their own tracking strap to all premium members.
- Offers a lot of free options
- Responsive support staff
- The concept is not unique and there are many similar apps in the market
- Their interface isn’t free of glitches, as can be seen from the reviews
- Their USP is the tracking belt they ship to you, but its not always accurate in its measurements. In some cases it may not be strong enough to hold on to the bag, thereby causing disruption in the user’s experience
- It doesn’t focus on any other aspects of health and fitness, such as sleep, hydration, meditation etc.
- It doesn’t offer a free trial
- No option for pay as you go plans.
To sum up, PunchLab does what it’s supposed to do – it tracks your progress, provides short and effective fight related workouts, and regular reminders so you stay on track. If you’re only interested in training for combat sports at an affordable cost, then go for it! The only caveat is you need to upgrade your membership to get the full experience. The app is meant to track your strike speed and rates with your phone after all, and you need the strap to see the benefits for yourself!
To download the app, use the links below: