The Spartner ‘The’OG’ Review
Pick one up at thespartner.com
The Spartner was designed in Ireland with early design involvement with the multi award-winning product design agency Design Partners based in Bray, Co. Wicklow. The product which their brand is named after was designed with the aim of providing the most lifelike training experience outside of a real life training partner, and in a fun and totally safe environment.
About the product
The product itself is a fairly simple concept – a strap that secures to your heavy bag, with two ‘obstacles’ that swing out at you while you’re training.
Unlike some other similar training tools, these obstacles aren’t static bars that will hit you in a linear, predictable fashion, but foam balls which hang down from the main strap. The end result is quite a curious tool, which provides a lot of variation in the swing of the obstacles, making it much harder to predict, and instead something you’re forced to react to rather than predict.
Here are a few suggested ways of using the Spartner.
The Spartner sent over one of their products for us to test out and review.
In terms of visuals there isn’t a whole lot to cover. With the exception of the foam balls themselves, the rest of the design is mostly black, meaning the Spartner would fit in well visually with almost any heavy bag you have.
While some people may wish for flashier designs or colours, I honestly think that the brand has done a good job of designing a product which is truly universal with it’s style.
As you may have seen earlier on in our review, the Spartner comes in a box with 6 items. Three of these are the actual product, which is comprised of the main strap which goes around the heavy bag, as well as the two skinnier straps which are connected to the foam balls. My first worry with this product was that it would slide down the heavy bag, however the amount of velcro on this thing is definitely enough to hold it in place, and gripped really well, to the point it probably takes longer to take the product down than it does to set up. It is suggested that your heavy bag should ideally have a diameter of 10 to 16 inches, and you’ll want about 4ft of space in all directions.
I was also quite pleased to see that the Foam balls are pretty weighty, but not too hard hitting, meaning that getting hit by one is noticeable, but also doesn’t run the risk of breaking a nose if you aren’t paying attention. I also imagine this goes a way towards making the product a little friendlier to youths, which I’m sure is good to know for any gym owners and parents. The smaller straps attached to each ball are also adjustable, thanks to alternating velcro tabs – when setting the Spartner up, you simply decide how long you want them to be and tuck the strap underneath the main belt and secure it to itself. Personally I found I preferred this length somewhere in the middle, but you could set it up differently depending on your arm length, the type of activity you’re doing, or even set the two straps at different lengths to add in some more variation.
The inclusion of a bag to store or carry the Spartner in was also a pleasant surprise. It makes sense that you’re not always going to want to train with the Spartner, so it offers a great way to keep the parts together.
The parts that I didn’t expect to see in the box were the swivel and carabiner. As it turns out, these are vital to getting the most out of The Spartner. Although most heavy bags include a swivel at the top of their chains, these aren’t designed to actually spin, which is why upon comparing our own heavy bag’s swivel to the Spartner’s swivel, there was a huge difference. The product could just have easily been shipped without these, but the brand clearly want you to get the most out of the product. I’m no engineer, but I have to say both the swivel and carabiner seemed pretty sturdy, and were thicker than the ones my own heavy bag was already using. Obviously if you were training with someone else’s heavy bag, or perhaps have temporarily set up the Spartner at a gym, then you wouldn’t want to use these, but I can confirm the product still works pretty well without them as long as your heavy bag can get enough spin during use.
In theory you could use it on most punch bags, as long as you can secure a strap around it, although I think The product is definitely designed with a more traditional bag in mind. There’s also a weight element to it – you want your bag to spin more than swing, so a bag that’s too light probably won’t work quite as well.
To start off I’ll say that I found my first few rounds with this product a little weird, so don’t be alarmed if you have a similar feeling – it’s a very unique piece of training kit which forces you to think about your heavy bag work a little differently.
Before using The Spartner I think I expected it to be a little like the Sparbar – a stand-alone training set-up which essentially is a bar rotating around a post that you can hit and avoid. As it turns out, while The Spartner has a similar base concept, it’s very different in reality. The main difference is that in certain circumstances the Spartner can be incredibly hard to predict, with the swinging effect adding in an almost random element.
In my time using it, I’ve decided there are really two approaches to training with The Spartner, which you could switch between on the fly.
The first way to use it is to set it up and then use your heavy bag as normal, without making any conscious effort to spin the bag. This approach will mean that most of the time the Spartner hangs pretty inactively, letting you land your strikes as hard as you usually would. Eventually one of your strikes will cause the bag to spin a little, and one of the arms of The Spartner will swing out at you with very little warning. What I love about this ‘organic’ approach is that it’s pretty unpredictable and you really need to test your reactions – helping build that instinctive defence that usual heavy bag training often allows you to forget.
The second way to use it is to try and intentionally spin the bag. Now, if you stand in front of it and spin it as fast as you can with both hands, it’s going to smack you in the head right away (something they actually warn you about in the box), spin fast for a second and then slow down. Instead, I found it worked much better if you try and find ‘organic’ ways to spin it while training. I found the best ways to do this were to either throw a lighter hook-like punch to push the bag, or if you’re training with kicks then a gentle teep to one side of the bag can achieve the same result. Using this approach helps to keep the bag spinning more consistently. It does mean it doesn’t work great for heavy combinations, but instead transforms your training into an activity more about keeping range and placing individual strikes, slipping and bobbing as you enter and exit. The speed is never perfectly constant, and the balls fly higher or lower depending on the spin speed, so you really have to pay attention rather than just going through the motions.
I definitely found the most satisfying training to be the rounds where I mixed back and forth between these two approaches. If you had a training partner with you, you could also get them to help you spin the bag, which makes it even harder to predict.
Of course, while this was the way I found it best to train, you might find that experimenting with it uncovers some more ways to use it. Some fighters have reportedly had some good success using just a single strap, which will obviously have a big impact on the frequency of striking and evading.
Throughout my training I decided that The Spartner isn’t the sort of thing that you want to use for every heavy bag session, but instead a great training tool to whip out when you fancy some variation, to work on your defence, or simply to keep you on your feet. It definitely adds another level to your heavy bag workout.
If you’re looking to pick up ‘The OG’ Spartner, it’s currently going to set you back €170, which at the time of writing is about £150. Included in that cost is a full 90 day money back guarantee, so you can feel confident picking this product up if you’re currently on the fence. You’ll also be able to get a replacement for the foam balls if the ones included in the box are somehow broken, which adds an extra level of piece of mind.
Now, this price means that this product really isn’t for someone who trains casually, as for the same price there are plenty of other things you might want to buy for a home gym instead. In my opinion this product is much better suited to a higher level of training. If you’re a professional fighter, you’ll probably use the product enough to justify the cost much more than someone who only trains casually. This would also be a great purchase for gym owners, allowing their fighters of all types to use this fairly unique training tool.
Looking to buy this?
Pick one up at thespartner.com
+ Easy to set up and take down
+ Offers a unique style of training
+ Highly adjustable
We don’t like
– A little inconsistent
– High cost
This graphic is to illustrate the areas this product excels in, and is not intended for direct comparison to other reviews.