Warrior Muay Thai
Warrior Muay Thai may be a bare bones, no frills kind of gym, but what it lacks in glitz and glamour, it more than makes up for in heart and soul.
The gym is staffed with instructors who have a minimum of 12 fights under their (world champion) belts, and their passion for the sport is obvious. "I live and breathe it. I've bled, broken bones, sweat, tears, whatever. You name it, I've done it for Muay Thai," says two-time world champion, owner, and head instructor Zubair Khan.
Not to be confused with Mixed Martial Arts or UFC fighting, Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is a martial art with over 2,000 years of history. Respect and discipline is the mantra the instructors live by, and their goal is simple: to empower students to reach their fitness goals regardless of age, weight or flexibility.
"What I really like is that I have students who are in their 30s and 40s. And they're finding...in Muay Thai, an activity that they never thought they could do," says Khan.
Having only two heavy punching bags equip the facility becomes an asset as the floor space, and your lung capacity, is put to full use during an hour and a half of strength and cardio training as well as Muay Thai fighting technique. The session includes a full plyometric workout in addition to several rounds of kicks, punches, elbows and knees.
The studio, roughly three months old, allows clients to enjoy the intimate atmosphere of learning in a small class. On average, about 12 men and three women show up for the men's and women's time slots. That's plenty of opportunity for one-to-one training, especially compared to the congested Muay Thai training studios in downtown Toronto. The regimented system works perfectly for those who have wandered into a gym in the past, stared at the equipment in puzzlement, and then become too busy with life to return.
Unfortunately, that also means slim pickin's for class times until the clientele grows large enough to support more sessions.
The studio is also as basic as you can get. Work for improvement and expansion is still the planning stages. A fighting ring will eventually be put in, but it'll take time before these additions are implemented.
Located at Don Mills and Lawrence, getting to Warrior is convenient by car, and there's plenty of free parking space at the gym. Those coming by TTC should expect a somewhat slow subway/bus combo. It takes me about an hour to commute from downtown by public transit.
Warrior Muay Thai offers several pricing options. Participants can buy a 10-class pass for $150 before taxes, or $100 for a month. The price drops with a longer commitment. After looking at several other Muay Thai gyms in Toronto - some charge $999 for a yearly membership - Warrior comes at the lower end of the scale at $900 for a year. That's about $75 per month. Women pay even less because their class options are more limited.
If you need a push to go the extra mile in your training, but you don't need (or want to pay for) the frills of an extreme fitness facility, pull on some shorts, grab a bottle of water and get ready for a hell of an experience at Warrior Muay Thai.
Writing and Photos by Joanne Yeung.