Clancy's Boxing Academy
Clancy's Boxing Academy has been open for about a year in the east end of North York. While the location seems a bit out of the way - in an unassuming industrial building near Eglinton and O'Connor, it's a gem well worth a visit if you live or work nearby.
The space itself is a surprise, considering the low key exterior with signage easy to miss from the road. It has high ceilings with an overlooking second level. There is a huge boxing ring, an array of punching bags and immaculate change rooms on the lower level and a class studio and strength training equipment in the loft area.
A gorgeous wood bar greets you as you arrive, stocked with coffee and various forms of fuel for your workouts. There are a number of tables and chairs where you can relax and read or use the WiFi before or after class. The space is open and has a funky vibe, so much so that it gets rented out as a venue for various events.
My pal Nat and I drop in on a Friday for the "lunch and punch" class. Given the name, I expected a typical boxercise-type workout you'd find at most gyms. While we definitely got our butts kicked, what we also got was some pretty serious boxing training from co-owner Kristina Ejem.
Ejem originally planned to become an amateur and/or professional boxer, but recognized that this was a tough journey within a male-dominated sport that, at the time, didn't allow female boxers in the Olympics. Before opening Clancy's, Ejem established Agency Wars V corporate boxing event, which has created close to 150 corporate boxers in the city of Toronto, and she remains passionate about getting women of all ages into the sport. The chance to train with her was worth the drive alone.
As the class begins, Ejem starts with having us do about 10 minutes of skipping to warm up, followed by various other cardio drills in the upstairs studio. Then we head down for some technique training and get our hands wrapped before popping them into some gloves.
This is really where Ejem gets serious. She warns us she gets annoying with newbies because she is a stickler for proper form and technique, but it's worthwhile to go through it with her and she'll stay on your case until you get it right.
Once she is satisfied that we have the basics down, we spend time on the punching bags. After working up quite a sweat, we head back upstairs for some core training before she stretches out our tired muscles. It was challenging and fun, but the best part is really Ejem. She is smart and funny, warm and sincere and just seriously likeable.
Clancy's also offers beginner level classes, girls-only classes and ones just for teens. Drop-in classes are $20 while a package of 10 classes is $120 and 1 month unlimited classes is $180. Ejem also offers private classes.
Photos by Jesse Milns.