Kingsway Boxing sits in the west end of Toronto in an industrial area, looking like an auto-body shop from the outside. It wasn't until I spotted a four-foot sign with the gym's logo on a fence that I knew I was in the right place. My misplaced fear didn't last long.
When I step inside, I'm greeted by Jennifer Huggins and Virgil Barrow, the senior coaches of the gym. Throughout my session to come, every member that walks through the door gets greeted enthusiastically by name, and I get a huge sense of comradery here.
The gym houses an olympic size ring, along with a row of punching bags and a conditioning area, which includes free weights and bosu balls.
While filling out waiver forms, Jennifer tells me some history of the club and asks what my martial arts background is. When I mentioned recently trying boxing at Xtreme Couture, she was professional and respectful of her competition.
All new students get a free one-on-one lesson, which is what I'm here for. Usually, private lessons come at a premium, but here they're the standard for assessments. One of the biggest hurdles to newcomers in martial arts is the worry of looking foolish in class. This private lesson gives students the tools they need to not feel like a... well... tool, and I'm confident I could now take a class and not stand out too badly.
Jennifer is a national boxing coach and referee, has studied Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai, and has even worked with SWAT teams. She knew exactly how my background in Taekwondo might affect the way I box, and caught some bad habits that I was starting before they became an issue. Mostly by smacking me with focus mitts ("Don't drop your hand!").
On top of being knowledgeable, when she threw a few demonstration punches, I was suddenly very glad to be hitting the pads and not sparring.
After trial lessons, Kingsway offers a starting package for $85 that includes 5 Open Sparring or Club classes, as many Abs and Running classes as you want, and full access to the gym during business hours (5pm to 9pm Monday to Thursday, as well as most mornings).
Membership options include:
- $65/month for 1 class/week
- $95/month for unlimited classes
- $125/month for unlimited classes as well as a 30 minute private lesson each week
Private lessons are also offered. For 30 minute sessions you can have:
- 3 sessions for $112
- 5 sessions for $175
- 10 sessions for $325
Or 60 minute sessions at:
- 3 for $180
- 10 for $500
I left Kingsway Boxing feeling, on top of sore, very satisfied with my experience. I learned a lot of new concepts in a very short time, making me wonder how much I could learn with a full membership.
Writing by Dan Cosgrove. Photos by Jesse Milns