West Toronto CrossFit
West 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.
A 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.
Jeff'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.
We 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.
I 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.
Photos by Connie Tsang