Blazepods are great workout gear, but they’re overkill for casual users

Enlarge / One of my best data traces.


Formula 1 fans may have noticed that many drivers practice before getting into their cars at the start of a race. For some it’s as simple like working with a trainer and tennis balls. But you might have noticed 2021 champion Max Verstappen slapping light pods, like a wireless version of the old Game Simon of the late 1970s.

They’re called Blazepods, and they’re Bluetooth-linked workout lights that have their roots in an interactive playground in Israel. The Blazepod founder developed a series of drills for the system, like capture the flag and relay races. “It was such a hit, they knew they had to make this wireless,” explained Brian Farber, director of business development for Blazepod. “And then they started to implement [them] and understanding what the benefits were – everything from cognitive to brain and body connection, to decision making, to reaction time, and then to actual analysis. It just took off from there.”

Max Verstappen might be the most prominent Blazepod user.

Max Verstappen might be the most prominent Blazepod user.

Blazepod offered to send Ars a set to test, and since I was in the middle of a fitness kick, and some remote part of my brain still thinks it might be a racing driver, I accepted the company’s offer.

Blazepods are durable gray and blue plastic pucks, approximately 3 inches in diameter. The trays are transparent and contain LEDs and a touch sensor. They stack and fit on a USB charging base, and they have around 10 hours of battery life. As you’d expect, there’s a smartphone app that communicates with the pods; the application offers many training programs, including beep tests and reaction time training, as well as balance and core exercises.

You can refine the list of activities offered by the application by indicating the sports that interest you: football, basketball, baseball, rugby, American football, racket sports, etc. In addition, you can program your own exercises. I did this using all six modules as they were laid out on my desk, and they randomly lit up in 30 second cycles.

The benefit, according to Farber, is that “it allows the brain to fire up and process a little faster and more efficiently. It’s visual stimulation – everything you do as a driver is done with your eyes, no? For the most part, yes, you have a radio and you get information, but the most dangerous thing is not to pick things up with your eyes,” he said.

I’d love to say the pods have revolutionized my workout regimen, but honestly, I’m not that dedicated. The six-pod pack is compact enough for you to travel with, and I’ve taken it on the road several times. However, without accessories like suction cups, you won’t be able to do much more than spread them out on the floor or on a desk. My early tests were marred by the pods sometimes failing to register a hit, which made reaction time data unreliable, but a software update seems to have fixed that pretty well.

Pod performance may have improved, but I’m not really sure if my reaction times have decreased, and I haven’t spent enough time with racing sims to see if there was any real improvement either.

When I spoke with Farber, he told me that although the technology was originally developed to allow children to play, “we changed very early on, realizing that what we had here was really meant for an athlete, not necessarily a child.”

As I write this, it resonates, not because I think I’m a kid, but also because I know I’m not an athlete, and therefore not really the intended user. This is especially true considering the cost – a six-pack of pods starts at $329, and there’s a subscription service that lets you add more pods and share activities for $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year. For true athletes, coaches, trainers and fitness instructors I can see the appeal, but for casual users the product is probably overkill.

Listing Image By Blazepod

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