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Fitness Clubs

West Toronto CrossFit

Posted by Erica Berman / Posted on April 10, 2013

West Toronto CrossfitWest Toronto CrossFit has brought this grassroots fitness movement to the Junction. Located in a multipurpose industrial building on a quiet side street just north of Dundas, West Toronto was started by owner, Jeff MacWilliams almost 2 years ago. He is one of 3 coaches that work out of the facility, which offers classes throughout the day Monday to Friday, as well as one on Sundays.

Despite being located in the basement of the building, the space is filled with natural light. Similar to most CrossFit facilities, the room is bare-bones and designed with performance rather than aesthetics in mind. There are no mirrors. There are also no showers or formal change rooms so make sure you schedule in enough time to sneak home and clean up after your workout.

West Toronto CrossfitA dozen of us gather at 10am on a Monday morning to be put through our paces my Jeff. We are an eclectic group - from uber-athletes to new moms - and my partner tells me this is a good representation of the usual participants. Everyone is encouraged and welcomed, regardless of ability level, including those of the canine persuasion...although they must sit on the sidelines.

West Toronto CrossfitJeff's own pooch, Atticus, a Great Dane possibly bigger than I am, is a permanent fixture at West Toronto CrossFit, and Jeff allows his CrossFitters to bring their own dogs too. This is charming if you are a dog lover, maybe not so much if you have a phobia or allergy or you like to work out with bacon in your pockets.

West Toronto CrossfitWe go through a group warm-up involving a mixture of dynamic and static stretches followed by several minutes of rope skipping. Then Jeff explains the day's workout. My partner tells me that it varies from full body with more of a cardio component, to focusing on heavy lifting.

This day we do a 1 minute plank followed by 10 reps each of low box jumps, sit-ups, and squats as many times as we can for 5 minutes, followed by another 1 minute plank, following by 10 reps each of low box jumps, sit-ups and 50 skips for as many rounds as we can for another 5 minutes. One partner in each pair goes first through the whole thing while the other counts, and then we switch.

West Toronto CrossfitI go first and am glad I did, for had I watched my partner go through the sequence first, I might have high-tailed it out of there. As it was, the routine felt possibly more painful than had Atticus chewed off one of my limbs. Nevertheless, the elation I felt upon completion was unbeatable. I suspect part of the draw to CrossFit is this wonderful sense of accomplishment you get as you progress, along with the strong sense of community and inclusiveness that you don't often find in a conventional fitness club.

A monthly unlimited pass will cost you 185$ but students pay just $150 per month and couples get one month unlimited for $275.

Junction residents looking for a CrossFit Fix should definitely check out West Toronto, and bonus: your first class is always free! Just be sure to bring a water bottle. Dogs are optional.

West Toronto CrossfitPhotos by Connie Tsang

Discussion

9 Comments

GlancyMMA / April 10, 2013 at 01:15 pm
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Jeff's passion for the sport of Crossfit is surpassed only by his genuine interest in his clients health, wellness, and personal progression.

He has created more than a gym over the past two years, but a real community of dedicated and caring fitness enthusiasts.

Regardless of fitness level, if your looking for a way to push yourself and expand your limits in a safe, friendly and genuine environment... West Toronto Crossfit is the place for you.
just a reader / April 10, 2013 at 08:48 pm
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I can't be the only one thinking this comes across like an ad? What's with the fawning and uncritical coverage?

At the very least, the monthly cost requires some examination. It's much higher than a traditional gym and it isn't clear why, in light of the location and noted lack of amenities. Is it one on one training? Is it unlimited access?

I'm not some rival gym owner, I don't even go to a gym, this is just iffy...

Dan / April 11, 2013 at 07:29 am
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I'm coming up on one year at West Toronto CrossFit and after many years of fitness ADD (triathlons, boxing gyms, conventional gyms, martial arts) I'm happy to have found my "home."

CrossFit itself has been getting a lot of press the past few years. The training format produced surprising results for me personally in terms of my overall strength and cardio, as well as functional movement, that I've never achieved through any other method. This is in part due to the CrossFit approach to training, but also due to the focus at West Toronto CrossFit on safety, proper form, and the amazing energy and support you get there from your fellow members as you try to get through the last few reps of a hard workout.

What really separates this place is the atmosphere. It is 100% attitude free. Very welcoming and friendly. This vibe starts with Jeff and the other coaches, but filters down to all other members. Everyone introduces themselves to new members who immediately feel like part of the family. On that note, it also doesn't have that "drink the Kool-Aid" weirdness you can sometimes get at other CrossFit gyms.

Regarding the price, while higher than a traditional gym, the fees are right in line (and actually cheaper in most cases) with other CrossFit gyms in Toronto. Although it's not one on one training, it is as close as you'll get without paying $80-$120 an hour for a personal trainer. Class sizes vary depending on the time and day, with sometimes as few as two or three but never more than eight. It isn't a 24 hr facility due to this class format, but the times available fit any schedule (multiple options before and after work as well as a mid day session.)

New workouts are established by Jeff each day, so it's not left up to the member to come up with their own program (i.e. at traditional gyms.) The coaches observe each member during workouts, adjusting your form and encouraging you (just like a personal trainer would). You never know what you're going to get, and it's the days you dread most at first that leave you with the greatest sense of accomplishment after finishing the workout.

I could honestly write another 10 paragraphs about why this is place has become my second home in the Junction. Given that this is a gym review, I guess it really comes down to the improvements you'll see in your overall health and fitness (significant), which are a direct result of the workout design and approach, and the welcoming and supportive atmosphere that makes you want to keep coming back for more.
Ashton replying to a comment from just a reader / April 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm
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The fawning and uncritical coverage? Well, that's because there is simply nothing to be critical about! The monthly cost is VERY low in comparison to other small group exercise gyms. RPM on the corner of Pacific and Dundas charges an astounding $452 dollars for unlimited access for two people per month. Snap fitness also on the corner of Pacific and Dundas costs about $100 Dollars per person per month and does not offer any coaching or guidance, it is simply a gym. Jeff, limits his classes to 8 per class and is therefore able to pay attention to each of us, for unlimited access for $275 a month is nothing!
Orange / April 11, 2013 at 04:58 pm
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The worst part is the dude split jerking in Vibrams. Somewhere Glen Pendlay just threw up a little in his mouth.
Brian / April 11, 2013 at 08:37 pm
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I go here and I like it.
Mike / April 11, 2013 at 09:35 pm
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Jeff's 100% great. If you commit to the program, this place and the lifestyle changes that come with it are worth every penny. And this is coming from a member of a competing CrossFit gym.
gl / April 12, 2013 at 11:55 am
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Not sure Crossfit is a 'grassroots' movement anymore. They have boxes in Iceland for crying out loud.
Cheyenne / April 12, 2013 at 04:30 pm
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This crossfit gym was absolutely the best hands down of the four I tried before committing! I knew I needed something tougher to kick my butt into gear and working out 6-8 hours/week on a treadmill in addition to riding my bike 25-40 hours/week just wasn't cutting it. The positivity and motivation from the people I met here has helped do that on top of the challenging workouts! The folk at WTC keep me coming back, and each little improvement I make seems to be just as important to Jeff and the other members as it is to me! Great group of people. The price may seem steep compared to the big fast food exercise places but the coaching and people here make that an easy cost to bear.

Maybe seems a bit uncritical but I have nothing bad to say about WTC in all honesty! Cheers :)

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