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Fitness Clubs

Blast Athletic

Posted by Erica Berman / Posted on May 16, 2013

Blast Athletic TorontoBlast Athletic is a two-year-old training facility where, rumour has it, hardcore fitness folks go. Located on Dupont, just west of Spadina, when you walk into Blast, you may wonder if you are in a CrossFit gym. It's housed on the first floor of an industrial warehouse with high ceilings and cement walls and floors.

Blast Athletic TorontoThe equipment includes many of the latest and greatest strength and conditioning trends such as Kettleballs and TRX suspension systems. When I arrived, two strong looking men were pushing and pulling an enormous amount of weight from one end of the gym to another and then whacking a massive tractor tire with a mallet. Little did I know that in short order I would be performing similar feats of strength myself!

Blast Athletic TorontoOwner Marv admits he gets asked the CrossFit question all the time; however, he feels his training philosophy differs significantly from that of the CrossFit model. While CrossFit training is based on the belief that any exercise can be adapted to work for any individual, Marv thinks differently. He believes training should be tailored more specifically to each individual's abilities and goals.

Blast Athletic TorontoGiven Blast's reputation, I was a little nervous for my one-on-one training session with Marv. I like to train hard, but anytime you try something new it's a bit scary. Marv reassured me that he had no intention of hurting me. He started by putting me through a cardio warm-up with some dynamic stretches to get the muscles and joints ready to go. Next, he had me pushing and pulling weight across the floor, much like the gentleman I watched earlier.

Blast Athletic TorontoWhen he first told me I would be doing this, I admit, I had my doubts that I was capable, but Marv reassured me I was, and he was right. This firm encouragement is what makes him an ideal coach: he is not overly pushy or aggressive, but his confidence gives you the courage to try (and succeed at) new things. He also had me doing heavy ropes, and doing some plyometrics, dynamic core work and strength exercises with a medicine ball and the TRX Suspension Trainer.

While there is no doubt he gave me a butt kicking unlike any I've had in recent memory, true to his word, I survived injury and pain free. In fact, I woke up the next day feeling pretty awesome.

Blast Athletic TorontoConsidering that it was one of the toughest workouts I've done, it was very humbling when Marv reminded me that the body of the workout, based on three timed circuits of exercises, which I was asked to perform as many times as I could in a given amount of time, amounted to only 16 minutes. This efficiency is one of the reasons Marv prefers this type of metabolic training.

Blast Athletic TorontoFolks in the Annex area looking for a great place to take their training to the next level should definite check out Blast. The facility offers both group classes including those designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced level participants, and private and semi-private training. Packages of 8 classes start at $149 while 16 can be purchased for $260. Private coaching is $480/8 sessions and semi-private coaching is offered for $480/8 sessions.

Blast Athletic TorontoPhotos by Connie Tsang



johnsonstarfish / May 16, 2013 at 09:09 am
Hard to believe that "hardcore fitness folks" go there when all of the pictures are of just females.
Kat / May 16, 2013 at 09:29 am
And the winner for sexist douche comment is...
Michael replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / May 16, 2013 at 09:34 am
1. There are just as many female fitness freaks as there are male.
2. Did it occur to you that the pictures were likely all taken at the same time and maybe during a women's group training session?
3. Remember this sentence? "When I arrived, two strong looking MEN were pushing and pulling an enormous amount of weight from one end of the gym to another and then whacking a massive tractor tire with a mallet."
crossfit / May 16, 2013 at 10:33 am
It is no different than crossfit, just a trainer who has an open mind (I've never been here though). Also, what is a kettleball?
Vince replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / May 16, 2013 at 10:58 am
@johnsonstarfish, the men train on Tuesday/Thursday nights. And usually M/W/F mornings, and often a few other evenings and weekends. Feel free to join us. We'll even let you pick out whichever of us mules you think you can handle for some of the partner drills.

On your other point, there are dozens of hardcore women that train here -- guessing 80% of the general populous, men or women wouldn't get through most of their workouts.

@crossfit: do you have a name by the way?
the only difference from crossfit is that you might actually be exposed to good technique and form here, rather than just being told to AMRAP on some lift that you have no business doing, and learning nothing and possibly injuring yourself in the process. Marv also has hundreds if not _thousands_ of hours of actual training/certification/re-certification -- I'll take that over the grab-bag you could get at a cross-fit gym.
JB replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / May 16, 2013 at 11:12 am
I train there JohnsonStarfish, and I'd put some of our ladies up against you any day. We'll keep a puke bucket handy.
Doug / May 16, 2013 at 11:13 am
Adding to Vince's comment about CF, I have had 10+ former Crossfitters directed to me in the past 2 years by their physios thanks to shoulder injuries caused by CF workouts.

As much as I think CF is a big step up from the bodybuilding-centric training received at most gyms, CF does have it's flaws...with way too much arms-overhead work being among those flaws.

CF started out as a program for military/gymnasts/ex-athletes. Now we see the general public rushing to CF and seeing their structural flaws being exposed.

As a fellow trainer, I can see how Marv's workouts provide CF benefits while eliminating some of the CF flaws.

Jason replying to a comment from Vince / May 16, 2013 at 11:33 am
Why do we all get so defensive about our gyms/fitness choice? And why are people instantly comparing everything to crossfit. That being said, I have the benefit of very good form junkie coaches at my gym. I haven't seen the "dark side" so to speak.

This gym isn't a potential choice for me (I'm very east end) but if I was in the neighborhood I'd check it out for sure. They even have a trap bar. Which would make dead lifts even more fun if that's possible!
note / May 16, 2013 at 11:53 am
note: I think there's an error in the pricing at the end - private and semi private are both listed as $480 for 8 sessions.
4ChanApologist replying to a comment from note / May 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm
I don't think it's a mistake, I think what they're saying is 8 semi-private sessions are $480 divided amongst however many people participate. Meaning that if you want completely private, you're paying the entire $480 yourself.
Pope Braun Paul II replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / May 16, 2013 at 01:02 pm

The gals that train here are 100% no joke. We have ex national champions (in their sport), ultra marathoners and some incredible all around athletes here. No pictures of the dudes because no one wants to see shots of sweaty, gorillas making their best O (lifting) faces. Maybe you do? I dunno.

Bottom line is if you don't believe these girls are fit, you should try a free class. I'd take these girls in an athletic decathalon over just about every half-squating, bicep curl monkey at most gyms, with perhaps the exception of pure strength. Still we've got girls here who deadlift more than some of the guys, so then again maybe not.

We'll see you there.

jesse / May 16, 2013 at 04:02 pm
If not for the shear fact that you get a killer workout, you also gain the support and motivation of everyone that steps into that gym (as demonstrated by the awesome comments above). You won't leave without trying your best and you won't be able to stay away for long. I am sure we could let "johnstarfish" join the women's class and see how he stacks up.
Trina / May 16, 2013 at 04:34 pm
Blast is an amazing place to train - I train my clients there whenever I can. What more could you ask for? Open Space and lots of fitness toys to play with. As for Marv, he is a confident and amazing coach!!
Lokki / May 16, 2013 at 04:47 pm
I am so glad to see Blast get some great exposure here. Marv is an incredible trainer and employs some of the most motivating and positive coaches around. I used to train here but moved too far away to continue.
Great mix of cardio and strength training. Welcoming and supportive atmosphere and you will be absolutely smoked at the end of a workout here. Marv has eyes in the back of his head and there is no cheating or poor form allowed! He also offers TRX classes as seen in the photos, boxing and it looks like just introduced some Olympic lifting!
I miss Blast!
Blast Coach / May 16, 2013 at 05:01 pm
The Ownership and Coaching Dept. at Blast Athletic, would like to thank blogTO for sharing this awesome review with everyone! We invite fitness enthusiasts of all stripes, to come in and have a sweat with us.

So - how does the Hybrid Athletic Program differ from the Crossfit Program?

The Crossfit program is designed for universal scalability. The idea being, conditioning routines for all training populations should differ by degree, and not by kind.

In contrast, the Hybrid Athletic program offers separate curriculums for beginner, intermediate, and advanced training populations. Each curriculum promotes the development of specific athletic skills, and conditioning markers which must be achieved before progressing to the next level of the program.

K / May 16, 2013 at 06:17 pm
This is probably a great gym but none of these girls in the pictures look hardcore to me.
ARC / May 18, 2013 at 01:09 pm
This gym has something to offer everyone--guys and girls of all athletic ability. I've personally been training with Marv for about 4 years and he's always been adapting his programs to incorporate the latest proven fitness methodologies. Not only are the workouts amazing, the people who go here are really down-to-earth and fun. It's certainly a zero-attitude place and I've made a lot of great friends at Blast.

As a male of relatively above-average physical fitness, I've seen some amazing improvements in my strength, speed, and endurance. I've also lost a ton of weight...ok not literally a ton, but about 30lbs since I started with Marv.

I'd recommend anyone come out and try a class. See what you can push yourself to do, and how awesome you will fell doing it!

PS. It takes kettleBALLS to lift kettleBELLS.
crossfit replying to a comment from Vince / May 19, 2013 at 09:25 pm
I don't doubt the gym is great but is still technically no different than crossfit. The issue is that crossfit gets so much bad rap because there are not enough restrictions on who can teach it. Crossfit does not lead to bad form, bad coaches and inexperienced individuals do. AMRAP works just fine if you stay true to form, that is why there are standards. Do I see them enough? NO. Do they exist? YES.

You could easily call this Annex Crossfit (except for licensing fees) and provide the same level of service and variability in classes, that is up to the coaches to provide.
Blast Coach / November 28, 2013 at 03:38 pm
Pleased be advised that our memberships options have been updated, effective Oct 1,2013. Please contact: for current rates.

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