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Fitness Clubs

CrossFit Toronto

Posted by Greg Davis / Posted on June 19, 2008

Inside CrossFit TorontoCrossFit in Toronto. It's a beautiful thing.

For those familiar with the CrossFit concept, it doesn't get much better than this. This place is fully decked out with everything a functional fitness guru could ask for. Enough said.

But for many, the idea of going to a gym where you never know what to expect can seem intimidating. Extreme even. What, no Oprah or Dr. Phil to go along with my elliptical?

What is CrossFit anyway?

CrossFit is a fitness program that uses more basic movements- like pull-ups and lifting things over your head- to create workouts that vary randomly each time. It started in the US as a spinoff of training programs used by the military and police forces. The concept has evolved over the years into an actual movement with CrossFit labeled facilities across mostly the US (a few in Canada) where people get together to collectively kick their butts in to outstanding physical shape.

The "affiliates" take their lead from the main CrossFit organization which provides certification and generally keeps the movement organized. They provide tons of resources on this style of training and even post regular workouts that you can do on your own.

The idea here is basically that most gyms and personal trainers are lame, and if you want a good workout you have to do real movements with little in the way of machines but lots of sweat. When you go to a CrossFit affiliate gym, it's to workout as a group, with set class times. You might be able to find out beforehand what they plan on doing, but for the most part the workouts feel completely random (although I'm told they are planned out in advance). Some incorporate some basic equipment like rings or rowing machines, some nothing but boxes to jump on and skipping rope.

Ok so how does CrossFit Toronto stack up?

Having recently moved in to the Toronto area, I was stoked to find out their was a CrossFit gym in the city. I've been interested in the concept for a few years now and have checked out Steel City CrossFit (in Hamilton) a few times.

CrossFit TorontoBarely visible if you weren't looking for the sign by their window on Carlaw Avenue, the place has an industrial feel that adds to their anti-establishment approach to fitness.

My first impression- wow, this place has everything. Much more than the Hamilton gym. We're talking weighted vests, huge truck tires, glute-ham machines, kettlebells, elastic bands, plyo boxes, full sets of olympic barbell weights and dumbbells, and on and on. If randomness is part of the game here, that should never be a problem.

There are 8 classes per day- in the mornings, mid-day, and afternoon-evening. You can pay per class, for a bunch of classes at once, or for "unlimited training". I think they are pretty flexible here which is a refreshing change from the conventional gym approach of having you sign your life away.

It's a bit difficult to describe a class but basically there is a "workout of the day" that is made up on the spot and varies along a spectrum of intensity from stuff like five minute intervals on a rowing machine (longer duration, lower intensity) to single repetitions with a heavy barbell (shorter duration, higher intensity).

You might be surprised to see a totally mixed bunch at the classes. At the noon hour class I checked out, there were both younger and older, guys and girls, some in good shape but some more "getting there". They tailor what each person is lifting or doing to what is appropriate. So it's not just for fitness freaks, and they even have classes for kids.

I was totally satisfied with the workout I had when I dropped in. The people seemed really nice and were encouraging each other as we slogged through an intense workout. There were only 6-7 people there for the class so it was pretty close to getting personal coaching as the trainer there would constantly move around giving you pointers on how to improve your lifts. It impressed me to see that they knew their "olympic lifts" (ie. snatches, cleans) and how to teach them, something that's hard to find outside a college athletic program.

Here is an example of a Crossfit workout in full effect.Crossfit Toronto WorkoutLast photo courtesy of CrossFit Toronto.

Do I have anything bad to say about the place? Not really, other than the fact that it's out of the way for someone like me who lives in the West end. But honestly, if you want to really push yourself and you thrive in group workout environments, you have to at least try this place out. The owner is really personable and offers two free trial classes. You might want to bring a friend if you think you might be intimidated by being a the new person joining in on a group class.

Discussion

16 Comments

Gloria / June 19, 2008 at 08:40 pm
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Saying it's sort of a down point that it's out of the way for a west-ender is a weird thought. Do we take into account how this place is also out of the way for people in Scarborough, Markham, or Etobicoke?

West-end-centrism? :P
Todd / June 25, 2008 at 02:43 pm
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I agree, its actually a very convenient place, 5 minutes form yonge st in good traffic that's pretty darn central if you ask me. I checked it out and its an ok facility but not for everyone, I checked out Berkeley Gym Queen and Parliment the same day, more traditional setup but very cool too, I'll be going back and the parking is sweet!
Greg / June 25, 2008 at 03:13 pm
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"it's out of the way <b>for someone like me</b> who lives in the West end"

was just commenting on the fact that i wish it was closer to me... wish there were more of em...
Dawn / November 14, 2008 at 05:28 pm
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Check out CrossFit Mississauga if you live in the west end! It's the best crossfit gym in Ontario, in my opinion. It works without a class set up, because lets face it, classes are lame. The coaches work overtime to ensure they are available to help everyone who walks in the door from 6am-9pm 7 days/week.

www.crossfitmississauga.com
dhani / November 18, 2008 at 01:01 am
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there is a new CrossFit opening in couple of weeks in Queen West. 20 Gladstone, which is basically Queen and Dufferin.

www.crossfitgyms.ca
Rob Kirkwood / January 1, 2009 at 05:14 pm
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Sometimes you gotta travel for good training, I have worked out at and taught out of CFT and i must say its worth the travel for the great gear, peer community, and top notch training.

You don't have to go there everytime you want to workout, you go in and learn the basics and you could do a really hard workout with simply some free floor space. do you doubt me? 40-30-20-10 Burpees, jumping lunges and atomic sit ups for time. and that's just thinking one up on the fly. For those new to crossfit or exercising at all think about doing the boot camp, and intro programs, it's not a biased opinion either i don't make a cent if you go and sign up.
Tom / January 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm
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CrossFitTO, hells yea! CrossFit Mississauga is NOT the best CrossFit Gym in ontario...You guys don't even do workouts correctly. I saw your youtube videos regarding "Fran" and others and the fact of the matter is, you guys were encouraging those guys participating to do improper technique. Instead of Push Press they did shoulder presses, and their chins did not clear the bar on every pull-up. THAT is lame. If you want to learn to do everything right and if you want great support and information, CrossFitTO is the place to go.
Tom / January 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm
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Btw. I live in mississauga.
Tom / January 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm
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I should ad that I meant that instead of doing *Thrusters properly not push press...Fran consists of Thrusters and Kip Pull-ups.
Alex / February 5, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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Hey, this east, west thing is kind of funny. I live in the north, hey now we are talking about a commute. I understand completely what Greg was saying, it would be nice if there was one up here too. I guess the concept of cross-fit sounds great, just wondering if it is really as tough as it sounds. I am looking for a program like the p90x but in a group and instructor setting. Something difficult but with great results. Don't know if I trust the video advertising of p90x. Plus I have lost a little bit of faith in Gyms and trainers. Anybody a member there who has achieved great results? Maybe wants to share your experience.
Slavka / February 9, 2009 at 03:13 pm
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I go to Element Crossfit - best place to go. I started seriously @ Element Crosfitt in January 2009. We all get personal attention detail explanation of workout. I just turn 60. Never did in my life I would think that I can deadlift 165lb. Anyone can do from teens to mature individuals and keep fit if we really want it.
For those who think about distance it is just one of many excuses we all use sometime.
We all are pressured for time I know people who go shopping to Toronto from Hamilton.
It is just matter of priority @ Element Crossfit my longest excercize was 30 minutes. No comparison to 1 1/2 hour people spent at other gyms and result are there. To believe it you have to try it.
/ March 30, 2009 at 09:24 am
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There is now a new CrossFit in Aurora, just North of Richmond Hill. It called Point Blank CrossFit www.pointblankcrossfit.com, lots of space, and equipment. Much closer than stravelling to Toronto from Marham, Thornhill and Richmond HIll.
k replying to a comment from / June 30, 2010 at 12:28 pm
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it needs to be further south. I don't know if you're affiliated with them but it would take just as long for me to drive there than to go markham or mississauga. There are plenty of units for rent in woodbridge or north york but for some reason everyone's keen on opening a gym as far away from me as possible
J03 / April 3, 2011 at 06:45 pm
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I really want to try crossfit! The gym at my school is always so busy. I also get self-conscious in front of guys when I workout really hard without my trainer or a friend. The group concept and goal to push yourself to the limit is perfect!
Toronto_Urbanite / April 13, 2011 at 04:42 pm
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THE GOOD...
Instructors (owners) are probably the most experienced in all of Canada, which shows in their daily workouts. It truly is like a one-on-one personal training session , where they are constantly checking and correcting form.

Unlike other crossfits I visited in Toronto, and throughout the US and Canada they have structured programing that includes olympic lifts on specific days of the week, and gymnastics-type on other days before the actual WOD. You are never required to do the prescribed weight, and that's what makes CF so individualized - you do the weight according to your own body. Not to mention the workouts are posted on their website so you'll know if you have to take a coat if you're running out in the rain!

In addition to the owners and training staff, fellow cross-fitters range in age and skill and are just as pleasant, encouraging, helpful and friendly!

Facility is HUGE!! Lots of space with lots of equipment

In-house massage therapist and yoga offered.

THE BAD...
My one critique in the WODs is not the quality but in the DEMONSTRATION OF EACH SKILL. Maybe it's because the trainers are SO GOOD at what they do and the ppl are long-term devotees but it would be nice to see instructors demo each individual exercise and give us some time to practice it before the clock goes off. (Example, instead of just saying x box jumps, x walking lunges, x snatch, teach us each the individual skill and let us experiment with weights/heights because it's not all assumed that we know the movement of each)

THE UGLY...
No matter how fantastic the instructors are, the amazing camaraderie you get from the other enthusiasts, the massive facility, yoga/massage offerings, that still DOES NOT JUSTIFY the ridiculously overpriced membership fees. There are no changeroom/shower facilities to wash off, nor is there a designated parking lot for patrons. You're essentially paying $200/month for 1 hour a day's instruction......and since the workouts can be quite intense, there's no way you can go everyday. I also wish the membership wasn't based on a "per week" schedule and offered a "class package" because sometimes you just can't make it 3 times in one given week.

CONCLUSION
If you're ridiculously rich and can afford a dozen memberships a month, then splurge here. You probably won't get the quality of instruction elsewhere but for me, I need to shower after such a tough and sweat-pounding workout
Billy / September 30, 2012 at 05:53 pm
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Many people describe Body Buster Bootcamp® as being like "Personal training in a group environment". Our instructors will teach you the correct way to do exercises and use equipment. You will learn proper techniques for various cardiovascular drills and circuits used in class.

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