The gym is pretty dull, right? Gym memberships don’t come cheap, yet shockingly some 80% of Americans who have one don’t make practical use of it! To get you off the sofa and breaking a sweat, the team at BlazePod have come up with an innovative new system allowing anyone, from fitness enthusiasts to elite athletes, to improve their fitness level.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The wireless, portable system uses lights and sensors with pre-programmed exercises to help you increase agility, reaction time and more. You essentially get a Flash Reflex Training system designed to supercharge your workouts.
I’ve been using it for the past few weeks. Here’s what I made of it.
How to use
BlazePod has its origins in a Kickstarter campaign that launched back in 2018. The project was successful having raised just over $160,000. The nearly 700 backers have received their product now and the gizmo has been made available to all on the manufacturer’s website (link offers 5% discount).
In the box, BlazePod gets you get a total of six pods, straps, suction cups and plastic holders. There’s also a charging base and a nice little carrying bag.
Each unit is exactly the same. It’s circular with a diameter between 9 and 10 cm, and has a smash-proof exterior that is touch sensitive. There’s also a very bright RGB LED on the top of each pod that can shine in one of 8 colours.
Everything looks and feels really quality made and very sturdy. Which is a good thing as you are meant to tap the pods in a variety of ways, including with your hands, feet, heavy wall balls, boxing gloves and more.
There are no on/off buttons and absolutely no moving parts. Instead you are meant to download the app and then connect via Bluetooth with the pods. Just make sure the gear is no further than 40 meter away from your phone. I found the Bluetooth connection works very well. The pods respond instantly and once connected stayed connected. Usually the link is instantaneous.
You don’t need to establish a connection with all of the pods. That’s not the idea. There are various exercises so you have the option of using as many as you like. The company says the maximum number of pods that you are able to simultaneously connect to depends on the mobile device itself. Most of the phones they tested could connect to 12 Pods. The theoretical maximum is 24 at a time.
All of this is very portable and lightweight as BlazePods stack neatly on top of each other. They don’t take up too much space particularly if you put them in the carrying bag that comes in the box. And that’s important because the exercises can be done both inside your home and out.
In fact, the company has used this design to come up with a unique way of charging. Stack the pods into a pile and place them on top of the charging unit. Make sure the charging pins are aligned when you do this. The lights on each individual pod will light-up in red or green depending whether the battery is full or not.
On a full charge a pod is good for up to 12 hours of operation. So this is not something you will need to refuel very often. Nevertheless, BlazePod suggests you pop them on the charger about once a week to ensure optimal performance.
The pods come with some extra gear that includes straps and suction cups. These can be used, optionally, to add a bit more variety.
Attach the specialty plastic harness to the pods and that will allow you to add on the straps or suction cups. With that you can attach the pods to practically any surface. An idea might be to secure them to poles, fences, doors, mirrors, and pretty much anything else. Or as I preferred, simply use them without the straps and suction cups.
The design is UV protected so is safe to use in the sun and has a water-resistance rating of IP65. This basically means the BlazePods are splash-proof so can survive a rain shower, but don’t dunk them in the water.
All in all, everything looks and feels very smart, quality made. A bit Appelesque.
Setting up the system for first use is not too difficult. Gather up the pods, stack them on top of each other and plug the charging unit into a USB port. Because this is the first time you are doing this, make sure to leave them on the charger for at least 2 hours. The pods start of by blinking in red but transition to green as they fuel up.
Once that’s done, download and open the BlazePod app. Register your basic details and you’re all set to go. There’s a section in the app that has a list of available exercises. You can choose exercises right away although I found that it does take an hour or two to fully download all the accompanying images. After that you’re all set to go.
The concept is very simple yet extremely adaptable. It’s something called a Flash Reflex Training system that offers unique ways to work out. There are hundreds of exercises in the smartphone app to choose from.
To make selecting them easier, the exercises are grouped into several categories. For example you have Light Logic which offers the following choice: All at once, Focus, Home base, Random and Sequence. Some of these require you to use equipment, others do not.
There are other filters, too. You can sort exercises by Type (Agility, Anaerobic threshold, Balance Ball control, etc), Accessories (no accessories, balance board, basketball, basketball hoop, battle rope, boss ball, etc), by number of players and more. Once you find a few activities to your liking a good thing to do is to star them. That way they’ll be in your favourites list for quick access.
All of this allows for quite a variety in the types of workouts you can do. If all this sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry because it isn’t. Choosing an activity takes all of about a few seconds, and creating a new one from scratch just a few minutes. Yes, you can create one as well.
Open up an activity and you’ll get more details that includes a description and picture showing how the pods should be arranged. This is also when you need to connect the required number of pods via Bluetooth to the app.
Click on the pods sign in the right-hand corner and select a pod. It will light up confirming that a connection has been established. Keep doing this until you have added the number of pods needed to do the activity. Then simply arrange them on the floor, wall, etc. – as indicated by the description.
The pods are designed to flawlessly integrate into exercises, pushing you to work on your reaction time and reflexes, as well as agility, speed, balance, and stamina. Users can run through different training modules and measure their performance down to the millisecond.
If you can’t find what you are looking for among the predefined activities, then the custom activities function is the place to go. It allows you to control the Pods’ capabilities to suit your own need, and build an activity according to your specific requirements.
You can design and save up to 10 different exercises using the multiple light logics. I found this particularly handy during the COVID-19 lockdown as it allowed me to come up with several new ones that don’t take up much space and can be done in a small enclosed space.
Each custom activity has a set of controllable features that you’ll need to choose from. This includes defining the number of working stations and cycles, the number of pods to be used, the number of players, how to extinguish a light, light delay time and activity duration.
Combine these to your liking and save it. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Start up an activity by choosing either “now” or “on hit”. I preferred the second option as it gives you time to assume the necessary position. The exercise will start. When each pod lights up, it prompts you to move. The pods communicate with each other in real time and the smartphone app via Bluetooth.
Each activity is time limited but when you’re done you can choose to repeat the cycle. That way you can keep going until you’re worn out. Or switch to a different activity.
I’ve made a little video taking you through a few simple workouts. These require no other special equipment and can be done wherever there’s enough space.
Once you’re done the results will be saved in the app. They can be accessed by clicking the Analytics tab. This will show you a timeline displaying all the exercises that you have done.
Once again you get lots of filters. These allow for sorting by date, type of activity and player. Click on any activity and it will open up showing you how well you’ve done. You’ll get info on the number of hits and reaction time down to the millisecond!
My one gripe here is the lack of a leaderboard. While you can sort and filter activities there’s no ranking of your achievements. Which would have appealed to someone like me as I do enjoy to compete. I’m not sure how this could be done but perhaps implementing something like a points system that incorporates the number of hits and reaction might be an idea.
Having said that, I have found the concept really enjoyable. To me, one of the most appealing features of the product is that it has a modular design. It works with as many pods as you like, depending on which exercises you choose. You can train alone, with a friend or as a group – anywhere.
And it can tire you out pretty quickly. Plus because of the endless variety of activities, the boredom element does not set in.
A great idea is an excellent starting point, but of equal importance is execution. And BlazePod does not disappoint on either count.
The concept is very simple yet extremely adaptable offering an infinite number of ways to exercise. Choose from the long list of activities or create one of your own. The modular design means you can use as many pods as you want.
What’s more you can utilise the various attachments to secure the pods to mirrors, doors and more. Or simply use them without any extra gear like I preferred to do.
The pods are small in size so can easily be popped into a bag or rucksack. Plus they look great. The one thing on my wishlist are leaderboards in the app, as extra incentive.
I really enjoyed my time with BlazePod. The best part about the product is that it makes exercise fun!
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