If virtual reality social gatherings aren’t your cup of tea, we don’t blame you. But it’s hard to deny that putting on an immersive headset and punching stuff sounds pretty fun.
Since its creation in 2017, Liteboxer has been like Peloton for boxing – you use home gear to get a unique music-based workout with the help of trainers, although at a price of at least $1,495, Liteboxer isn’t cheap. Now Liteboxer is trying to make its product more accessible by unveiling Lightboxer VR, which debuts today on Meta Quest 2 for users in the US, Canada, Mexico and the UK.
“We’ve been working on the VR product for over two years, so it’s not something like, ‘Oh, Facebook changed its name to Meta, let’s go,’ said CEO and co-founder Jeff Morin. “I think virtual reality will really allow us to try new things and reach new users.”
Liteboxer VR costs $18.99 per month (plus a few hundred dollars for a headset, if you don’t already have one) – that might still be a price barrier for some consumers, but it’s surely a ramp up. easier access than spending $1,495, especially when you consider the cost of a gym membership instead of an at-home workout. As soon as you log in for the first time, you are greeted with a brief overview of how to box safely with one of the trainers. There’s not a lot you can teach in minutes, but in the coach-led classes, which last 10 to 45 minutes, you can watch the coaches properly demonstrate their technique while you box.
The interface resembles Liteboxer’s physical hardware – you punch with moving lights that move to six different targets. So far, Liteboxer VR offers over 500 workouts, including 400 trainer-led classes and 100 punch tracks, which are on-demand songs from the Universal Music catalog with pre-programmed templates for you to punch to the beat. There’s something special about boxing with Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Brutal’, and clearly we weren’t the only ones excited about Olivia Rodrigo’s tunes – a Liteboxer user went viral on TikTok hitting “Good for You”. Liteboxer said that when three user-generated Liteboxer videos went viral in the same week, the company saw a 209% increase in sales. Today, Liteboxer has 245,000 TikTok followers, which has led to a 40% increase in sales and a 20x increase in site traffic, the company told TechCrunch. The company declined to share concrete sales numbers, though Liteboxer raised a $20 million Series A round less than a year ago.
“All the server-side stuff, the music side, the Punch Track programming…it’s all split between VR and hardware,” Morin said. “So we’re lucky in the sense that we’ve set it up in a way that we don’t have to duplicate all of our efforts there.”
VR fitness is a growing market – in October Meta acquired Within, makers of VR fitness app Supernatural, for more than $400 million (but the FTC is investigating the deal for possible copyright violations). antitrust laws). Supernatural is one of the leading VR fitness programs on Meta Quest 2, and it costs about the same as Liteboxer VR, at $19.99 per month. Supernatural also offers boxing workouts, in addition to dance-type “flow” workouts, stretching, and meditation, but for boxing enthusiasts, the variety of different boxing workouts on Liteboxer VR is likely to entertain you.
A small but important difference between Liteboxer VR and Supernatural is that Liteboxer VR displays the number of calories you have burned. Some consumers may want to track this data, but for others the implied focus on weight loss may rob you of the enjoyment of the program (and really, do I need to know how many calories I burned in boxing to within two minutes of Olivia Rodrigo?).
Already, Liteboxer VR plans to add new features to the app that will further differentiate it from its competitors.
“If you’re using hardware, we have head-to-head challenges, so you can search for a user and challenge them directly. That will be added to VR,” Morin told TechCrunch. He added that Liteboxer VR records green screen content with the coaches, which is supposed to make it look like the coach is boxing with you.” It looks like you’re standing with [the trainer.] He is right in front of you. You hit the combo he calls.
Morin said these features should be coming to Liteboxer VR in the coming weeks.
Based in Boston, Liteboxer currently employs around 40 full-time employees, in addition to 15-20 contractors, who work primarily producing Liteboxer videos. Morin calls the company “a pretty lean and nasty team,” but says that after the company increases its B-series, she hopes to increase her staff.