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Fitness Clubs

Kingsway Boxing

Posted by Staff / Posted on August 18, 2011

Kingsway Boxing TorontoKingsway 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.

Kingsway Boxing TorontoThe 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.

Kingsway Boxing TorontoAll 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.

Kingsway BoxingJennifer 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!").

Kingsway BoxingOn top of being knowledgeable, when she threw a few demonstration punches, I was suddenly very glad to be hitting the pads and not sparring.

Kingsway BoxingAfter 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.

Kingsway BoxingKingsway BoxingKingsway BoxingKingsway BoxingWriting by Dan Cosgrove. Photos by Jesse Milns



Iain D / August 18, 2011 at 09:44 am
Good review, I may have to take a look at this once my Xtreme
Couture membership expires.
Sandman / August 18, 2011 at 10:41 am
Good review and nice to see a boxing club in the area.
Chris / August 19, 2011 at 11:46 am
Just a quick correction about our hours. We are open 5pm - 9pm Monday - Thursday as well as most mornings. Full schedule is on our website.
Kyle / August 19, 2011 at 02:57 pm
Awesome place. Been a member for 2 years and love it. Good people and trainers (Jen & Virgil) are top notch!
Paul / August 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm
In my opinion, the worst boxing gym I have ever stepped into. Coaches are not at all open to suggestions. Giving a suggestion to a coach will usually result in a sarcastic answer, such as "Don't tell me my job", or "You are being disrespectful". I found that they have their "favorite" members, and will generally focus on those. If you are not a "favorite", they will tend to ignore you. Then, of course, you can not make any suggestions.
Also, classes are too crowded, and they are refusing to add more.
There are plenty of boxing gyms in Toronto. I suggest not attending this one.
aki / August 20, 2011 at 02:52 pm
I've been a member for 2 years, and gotta say it's one of the most friendly and attitude-free zones I have ever encountered. The genuine caring and efforts put out by Jen & Virgil are a rare find. My advice would be to attend a class and see for yourself. To the above poster making false claims; there is no such thing as the "favourite" members only being trained. If you show up to Kingsway with a positive attitude, willing to soak up any knowledge that is presented, and work as hard as you can, you will be successful. Conversely, if you show up with a negative attitude expecting to magically gain skills without putting in the effort, you will certainly leave with a cynical attitude. You get out what you put in.
Paul / August 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm
They have a "competitive boxing program", which basically means nothing. I was told after 8 months in this "competitive" program , "Just because you are in a competitive program does not mean you will be able to compete". What? That is misleading! I am surprised they have not been sued yet. In addition to that, their so-called "competitive program" is very expensive compared to others. The average fee for this kind of program is $50, and are usually "real" programs.
aki replying to a comment from Paul / August 21, 2011 at 02:46 pm
I'm not a coach, but I can appreciate the fact that part of a coach's responsibility is constantly assessing individual skills and making a judgment whether the athlete is ready for competition. Particularly in a contact sport, things can go very wrong if the athlete is not ready to defend themselves in the ring. I believe there was likely no personal vendetta as you're suggesting above. Don't you think it's a reasonable, ethical, and responsible approach to hold an athlete back and err on the side of caution, rather than have that athlete injured in the ring?
Tara / August 22, 2011 at 01:30 pm
I started with Kingsway, Jen & Virgil about 5 years ago, after nearly 10 years of training in Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, boxing and kickboxing. I was competitive, and have had fights in all four of those martial arts. I have to say, Jen & Virgil were the best boxing coaches I've ever had. Their assessment of my skills and my level were spot on. They didn't play favorites that I ever experienced, and I was with them for nearly 3 years. They are kind, thoughtful and still hard-core in their boxing skills. They know how to train someone, and when that person is truly ready for a fight (often it is not one of the things that a boxer can accurately evaluate him or herself).

I am a woman boxer, and there aren't that many female coaches in the field. Training with Jen changed my form completely, and helped me learn some nuances of movement that only another woman can teach. I am forever grateful to her for the training that she gave me.

Also, a brief episode from when I was training one-on-one with Jen:

For the past 10 years of training, I have had coaches that notice that I get extremely mad when I get hit (whether it was my own fault or not). Those coaches encouraged the anger, egging it on to "hype up" my fighting. Jen was the first coach to notice that my anger when getting hit wasn't directed outward, it was directed inward at myself (I was getting angry that I had "failed" and beating myself up internally). I remember her telling me that anger makes me (and anyone) sloppy in the ring, and that fighting angry is a waste of energy. She also pointed out that focusing my energy on being mad at myself instead of focusing on the skills and moves that needed to happen in the ring just discouraged me, instead of making boxing interesting and energizing. Instead of "using" the anger, every time it happened, Jen would redirect me into something else. As a result, not only did I learn to fight more crisply and cleanly (something I had never learned before because my previous coaches were happy with me flailing around), I learned things about myself that needed to change not only inside the boxing ring, but outside it, too.

In my professional life, I'm a specialized life coach, and boxing with Jen & Virgil brought new skills to my practice as well.

The only reason I don't workout with Kingsway now is that I moved to Colorado Springs—and I miss them so much! Despite the fact that the Olympic Training Center is in town here, there's just no one to compare to Jen, Virgil & Kingsway. I would move them here, if I could.

I'm also happy to talk with anyone who is thinking about joining their gym or trying it out.
Paul / August 25, 2011 at 08:26 pm
They is very expensive for what they offer. Boxing is just like any other service. You have to shop around. I was told by Kingsway, that I would have to pay more to get better coaching. It is obvious they are more interested in the money than the coaching. Don't be fooled by the "Las Vegas Syndrom". Boxing is not about lights, glitter and glamour. There are plenty of boxing gyms with better coaching for less expensive. Kingsway fees are well above average. Most boxing coaches are $40 - $60. Warning: Kingsway is not the Be-All, End-All boxing club.
marcos / September 3, 2011 at 02:32 pm
wow, you really have it in for them Paul, but you do come off like a douchebag a bit. Why are you giving the coaches suggestions? i cant imagine you having some sort of knowledge or expertise that they would not. Especially because you havent been doing this for long. I suspect you will get the same results regardless of what gym you go to because your not open to learning and understanding the craft.
Paul / October 7, 2011 at 12:17 am
I have been boxing for five years, and expect a higher-level of coaching. I am a customer and have every right to make suggestions especially when they are not providing the services I am paying for. There is nothing wrong with asking for more coaching. It is a coach's job to coach, so damn well do it! You can't get upset because someone simply asks for feedback. I will once again say to everyone, Kingsway puts on a nice fake front, but they care more about money than good quality coaching. If you do not learn at their level, they will get frustrated and make sarcastic comments. I am now going to another gym, and the coaching there is great. They are patient and the fees are half that of Kingsway, so don't ever try to blame this on me. The coaches at Kangway are useless tools. Period.
Social Lockerroom / March 29, 2012 at 01:55 pm
Stay Motivated. Learn from Others. Connect with other Athletes. Challenge yourself!

It is a perfect site to set fitness goals and meet them through:
-Planning games with your friends and other people in your area (and sync them with your everyday calendar)
-Discover and create groups that match your interest and skills
-Setting goals and have your network challenge you to improve

When you can workout with other people or have challenges in your calendar, you are more likely to stick to them and succeed!

Please check it out! The more people on there the better for finding people in your area with similar interests...and staying motivated!!

Lets all get fit and healthy together!
joejoe / May 17, 2012 at 02:59 pm
Is this place the real deal...seems like it...or is it just a fitness club with a bunch of wannabes? I was thinking of training here...any suggestions and advice, good and bad?
Heyma / September 4, 2012 at 11:19 am
All I can say is boxing can be a brutal sport and you want to make sure that you are properly trained by people who know the sport in and out, and care about YOU, and YOUR well being.

With that being said, this is maybe the worst boxing gym in toronto. classes are too big, too disorganized, I didn't actually get the feeling like people cared about me here. The coaches are sub-par at best, all over the place, the fighters aren't very good (i'm talking about the ones with some talent), and you don't end up actually becoming a good fighter, just paying them money to think you are.

I found myself mostly doing conditioning, which is fucking ass backwards, I can do that at home. I should be doing technique, ingraining that until it's second nature. Don't waste your money, trust me.

If anything the only real boxing gyms are Sully's, Cabbagetown, and Atlas (with some others springing up)'ll find good old fashioned boxing training at these places and there's a reason why they produce so many great fighters.
Paul / September 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm
I have to totally agree with you. The time I spent a Kingsway was a huge waste of time and money. Like you said all they care about is the money, and they don't care about their boxers. When you question them, they get upset. Kind of childish, actually.
You are right, go to a "real" boxing gym.
I train at Stockyards Boxing Gym now, and in my opinion, it is the absolute best in Toronto. It is not very expensive, and the coaches care about their athletes.
beentheredonethat / November 16, 2012 at 09:53 pm
My honest opinion,

I'll say that Jen the owner is a nice woman, and she means well but the whole place is a little fucked up. I have to agree with the two dudes above me.

Guys not really giving newcomers a chance, too many people being allowed to just enter the fight game without being properly trained first. It's really sad that places like this exist. I understand that they haven't been in the game long, which is why they shouldn't act like they know the game through and through. They should really be helping the beginners, putting more time into them than their "favourites." Most of the fighters who have been there for a while, aren't fighting like they've been there for a while. They just posture. And I believe that it's not their fault. They look good to the beginners, but once I saw a fighter (a really seasoned vet) step in and spar with the regulars and he dunced them effortlessly. When I saw that I knew that this place was shady. There fighters were being exposed. Then when the fighters asked the coaches what they had done wrong, the coaches gave the same answers over and over again. It was pathetic. The coaches are to blame, them and their lack of passion and their lax attitude toward their fighters and the beginners.

There are just too many people per class, and as much as I hate to say it (because Jen is very nice and sweet) it boils down to money. They gotta make it, but at the expense of the fighters is it really worth it?

Finding a great coach is the single most important thing in boxing next to your dedication. Believe me I was dedicated. I learned faster than most, but I always got hurt in sparring becuase there was so much bad info I was given. Some people are meant to be coaches...Others aren't...the coaches at Kingsway? Well I'll let you answer that one.

ali / March 26, 2013 at 06:40 pm
wasn't a fan of this place. not a true boxing gym. one of the coaches thought he was god's gift to the
Sean / May 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm
I know for a fact when your a beginner in boxing you will get less attention in any club, i feel the trainers will give you more attention, when you prove to them your dedicated and you have learned the basics, without knowing how to throw a proper jab, cross & your stance more importantly, they will simply watch you out the side of your eye until you can perfect these very important moves. Some ppl take 3 months to perfect this some 6 months some sooner dependng on the person. I trained at 2 different boxing clubs in toronto Sullys in parkdale, toronto empordium on spadina. ANother thing is the prices are crazy, i remeber when we be paying 30 bucks a month lol, the good old days
James / August 6, 2013 at 09:58 am
The thing that struck me about this gym is they said champions in the making. When I was there the total number of champions I saw The place is kinda phony. The coaches don't really know what they're talking about, or know very little, or simply don't really care. I once saw a guy from another gym throw body shots at some of kings ways fighters and just annihilate them. It looks real to the untrained eye, but it's as big a waste of money as you can get.
Arthur / September 7, 2013 at 10:20 am
A fitness gym basically with some boxing.
Anthony / November 10, 2013 at 10:44 pm
Brutal place...didn't feel like I was in cared for at well-being, how I was trained...this place is a joke...don't go here trust me. You want a solid foundation and people that care about your well-being. Boxing is a very dangerous sport, so you want to make sure you're being trained by the best, not these wannabes and shit shows. SMH
Virgil / February 27, 2014 at 08:50 am
I read these comments before signing up and even though I saw many negative comments I've decided to give then a try since I live close and it wasn't a lot of money for the initial session. Now that I've been there myself I can confirm that the above comments are true. I went on Tuesday to the class with Jennifer and realized since never in my life did I do boxing that shadow boxing is probably a little too much. I then decided to give Virgil a try. It was the same story. Both of their favourite line to use is 'do what you know'. Also, when I asked Virgil to help me with my wraps he said to learn it on YouTube and didn't wanna help me. While next class another member asked him also in the middle of the class and he did it for him. Bottom line is that this is not a gym for beginners as Virgil said himself. Also I believe this gym focuses more on cardio rather than technique. I haven't done research to see how long they've been in business but my prediction is that they won't be much longer.
Yoman / April 17, 2014 at 05:39 pm
To Virgil, so true man. And they must be out of their minds thinking this place isn't for beginners. They have no champions at all. No competitors really. The coaches have little to no real experience coaching. They'll be out of business soon enough.
David / May 5, 2014 at 01:09 pm
I made an appointment with the trainer, and when I showed up, the trainer argued with me over whether I'd confirmed the time with him. I pulled out my phone and showed him his own e-mail. Instead of apologizing or admitting he was wrong, he kept making excuses.

The gym is spacious, has many heavy bags and a large ring. The demo class gave me a good workout.

I asked the trainer about his experience and qualifications but he did not mention having any boxing matches. Every new customer should ensure their trainer has applicable experience.
Jake / September 21, 2014 at 08:40 pm
Two gyms, many years of operation and zero amateur fighters worth noting. All down to Virgil's fear of having his own meager "achievements" surpassed.
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