Primal MMA is a new training facility opened by Thomas Heffernan, owner of the affiliated gym Primal Movement . Both gyms are located in a mixed-use commercial building in the heart of Leslieville on Carlaw Avenue, between Dundas and Gerrard.
Heffernan opened Primal Movement in 2011, but soon realized he needed additional space for the MMA training they offered. Primal Movement continues to offer members circuit classes, spin classes and personal training, as well as an array of cardio and strength-based equipment. MMA classes, meanwhile, now run out of the expansive Primal MMA space, just one floor below the original gym. Classes include a number of different martial arts, kick-boxing, and women's self-defense, as well as MMA style fitness/bootcamp classes. There are also programs for children and youth.
As one might expect from facilities that offers this type of training, both are modern-industrial in style and design. These are not chi-chi, boutique-like spaces. Heffernan purposely created a place to train that is open and inclusive to all. Members, Heffernan says, range in age from teens to their 70s and come from all walks of life. There are no pretentions here.
Be warned: Primal Movement has no AC, and Heffernan admits this is a dealbreaker for some. However, others are drawn by this feature, because in summer they use fans and open up the back wall to the parking lot to create air flow. He swears it's not stuffy, and adds many members really appreciate the open enviornment. Downstairs, Primal MMA likely stays cooler even in summer, but even if you have a good sweat-fest, there are change rooms and showers where you can clean up. Another bonus is free parking in the back of the building, a feature you don't always get with smaller facilities.
Heffernan makes an effort to support the other businesses in the building by using their services whenever possible. One produced their T-shirts, and another designed Primal MMA's lighting. He also doesn't like to turn anyone away, so when young hopefuls have come looking to try MMA training but cannot afford the fee, Heffernan has offered them free classes in exchange for a little help around the facility.
Trainers are an eclectic mix with varied areas of expertise (MMA, triathlons, track and field, etc.) and most offer personal training at Primal Movement and/or group and private instruction at Primal MMA.
Drop-in classes are $20, and a membership to Unlimited MMA is $150 a month (or $120 a month if you commit to a 12-month membership). New members can enjoy an unlimited, one-week free trial.
Photos by Jesse Milns.