Tidal CrossFit recently opened a new location on the still somewhat rough-around-the-edges stretch of Danforth Avenue just west of Coxwell. The massive bare-bones space replaces their former digs just off the Danforth further east towards past Victoria Park. The focus here is on serious training not on frills or pampering, hence the sparseness. Aside from four rowing machines and an ancient stationary bike, the equipment is primarily strength-focused including medicine balls, kettle balls, free weights, barbells and plates, and plyometric boxes. The change rooms have a single shower, a few toilets and sinks and not much else. The entire facility is cold, which I appreciate when working out, however, in winter months you may want to dress in layers.
For anyone unfamiliar with CrossFit, here is what you need to know: CrossFit, which started out as somewhat of a fringe fitness movement, has now moved into the mainstream, as is evidenced by its partnership in the U.S. with Reebok. It's based on the philosophy of inclusiveness and community and aims to build physical skills for sport performance and general fitness.
It is not a franchise, per se, however, anyone wanting to use the CrossFit name must first purchase a license to do so and trainers must take at least the Level 1 CrossFit accredited training program. CrossFit is defined broadly as "...that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity)". The exercises themselves are usually foundational movements, such as squats, lunges, pull-ups, etc. often performed in a circuit-like sequence. CrossFit can be done as a fitness regime, or, those with a competitive spirit, can get involved with it as a sport and can compete in local competitions with other CrossFitters.
A Thursday midday class attracts half a dozen participants, which seem to adequately represent the late 20s to early 40s clientele, co-owner Mags, tells me is the norm. Indeed the 'community' vibe of CrossFit is immediately evident with everyone seeming to know one another. The class begins with a warm-up, which everybody does at their own pace, and includes 500 metres on the rowers, kettleballs, inchworms (plank walk-outs), sit-ups, split squats and some static stretches to promote mobility.
Following the warm-up, Coach Sarah goes through each of the 3 components of the day's workout (Double-under rope skipping, clean-and-press, and push-ups) and carefully guides each participant on proper technique. For the final 20 minutes of the hour, Sarah sets a timer and has everyone do a prescribed number of repetitions of each exercise to be completed in their own time.
More akin to group personal-training than a typical group fitness class, CrossFit is perfect for anyone looking for some motivation to get fit from an instructor and camaraderie from others, without having to learn choreography or keep up with anyone else. Despite the somewhat intimidating image CrossFit may have, it is actually ideal for people of any fitness level since trainers give variations for most exercises and each participant is encouraged to simply strive for improvements.
Given that the teacher training program is just - like many fitness certification programs - a weekend course, and the exercises are pretty intense, it is prudent to be cautious before joining a CrossFit gym. The CrossFit company does not do quality control on affiliated gyms so if you have any health problems or physical limitations, in particular, make sure you work with individuals who know what they are doing.
Support from peers is key for exercise adherence, but aside from that, the CrossFit philosophy provides another advantage: the focus is on physical feats and fitness, not on physique. In fact, Tidal CrossFit has no mirrors, which may be appealing for some individuals.
What distinguishes Tidal CrossFit from other CrossFit gyms, according to Mags, is a focus on Olympic-style training, however, the studio offers classes for those of all levels and backgrounds, and has a team that trains together and competes in CrossFit tournaments. In addition, like other CrossFit gyms across the city, Mags tells me it is the community itself, drawn primarily from the surrounding neighbourhood, that makes Danforth Tidal CrossFit unique.
Memberships can be purchased for 1 class per week for 1 month ($80.50) to 1 class per week for 12 months ($66.00/month), with a discount for 2 class per week packages, or unlimited classes for 1 month ($198.00), 3 months ($185.00/month), 6 months ($165.00/month), or 1 year ($150/month). In addition, members of the Danforth location have access to Tidal CrossFit's Yorkmills location, and vice versa. The facility gives discounts to students, police, EMS, fire and military personnel.
Photos by Kat Rizza