Push yourself to try new sports and workouts in Toronto this winter: Boxing

Amateur boxing is so much more welcoming than you’d think

I read about Sully’s Boxing Gym on Dupont St. in Dovercourt Park a long time ago in a BlogTO post. While looking through workout classes on Groupon, I discovered a cray good deal on classes: 20 classes for $25. I have no boxing experience and I’m not a big fan of face-hitting but I rallied a crew and we went because apparently boxing is a fun workout.

I now recommend the class to everybody I meet. You will appreciate those 30-minute runs in an air-conditioned gym on a low-impact treadmill so much more afterwards.

The gym isn’t a country club or one of those fancy gyms on King St. West, but it is extremely welcoming and provides a better workout at a lower cost. You can even park for free at Galleria Mall (shhh!). Regulars and boxers who train there bring their children by for visits. It’s non-threatening. Women friendly? You bet. I was initially very surprised that this Toronto boxing gym is filled with mainly women, which added a sense of ease and comfort for me the first time I walked through the doors.

You can sense the community, the culture, the tradition, and the history at Sully’s. You can sense a true love and respect for the sport. The gym has been around for seven decades and George Chuvalo, Clyde Gray, me, Fern Bull, Lennox Lewis, me, Muhammed Ali and, most importantly, me have all trained at Sully’s. I read former Toronto Maple Leafs players (i.e. Darryl Sittler) as well as professional wrestlers have also trained there over the years.

There are pictures on the wall to prove it:

I am not sure how boxing has changed my life yet, but I am sure that it has changed my body and strength.

The first class requires about four days of recovery if you’re in regular person shape. I’ve seen people in really good shape, like the 1%ers, struggle. I’m not being dramatic in the least. The workout is literally one of the hardest things I’ve ever done — mentally more than physically. The first time I was like, “no way I’m finishing this. Can I leave without them noticing?” But, I have pride so I stayed and finished and then went back for more. I read a review online and a woman said she lost 8 pounds in five weeks of classes, going 1 to 2 times a week. I don’t doubt her, I noticed significant differences in my back, shoulders and biceps in the same amount of time/work — like I feel like I’m going to Hulk my shirts. However, I eat anything and everything, despite repeated attempts to be a gluten-free vegetarian, so I don’t notice a huge difference in my weight.

The class:

The class is one hour of conditioning and then an hour of bag work and boxing. The class is always a little different, made up of drills, boxing with weights, and the wall. The physical wall has a bunch of exercises written on it and you do them for a minute in a circuit. One drill is walking up and down a set of about 15 stairs with a ten pound weight. At the top of the stairs, you do 50 squats. At the bottom, you do 50 lunges. You do ten sets — Oh, and that’s the warmup. You still have like an hour and 40 minutes left after that. For stuff like this.

It’s a full-body/cardio/core workout in one. The conditioning part of the workout focuses on everything, much better than weight training. Absolutely every muscle. Even the ones you didn’t know about. Tony, the coach who runs the class, throws out little tips to make exercises that are hard, harder. Example: don’t move your head when you do Russian Twists. Now, 100 Russian Twists (Oh, yeah, we do 100 of basically each exercise) is hard when you are moving your head. When you don’t, you feel like you are ripping apart your abdomen every single time you move.

Kaylin’s tip: Friday’s are normally a really hard but small class.

Recommendations/Overview:

I think you should try the class at least once for muscle conditioning and the core workout, especially if you do some other sport(s). I know, I’m worse than those CrossFit people when it comes talking about working out. So, here’s link again, if you are interested. Even if you buy 20 classes for $25 and only go once or twice, you still got your money’s worth.

  1. Bring gloves. Tony, your new boxing coach, recommends Warriors at 647 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z9. It’s a specialty store for fighters/boxers/people who buy boxing gloves and fighting equipment.
  2. Bring water. Lots. There’s a sink to fill up bottles. It’s beautiful and cold. You will drink more than one bottle.
  3. After the $25 for 20 classes are over, the gym is extremely affordable to join ($70 per month).
  4. If you want to train for a fight, I highly recommend this gym. If your opponent trains somewhere else, there’s absolutely no way they are working harder than you. If they are, they won’t live to tell about it.

If you want to find new sports and workouts to try in Toronto, visit the OpenSports app, which has a range of activities that you can join.

— — Kaylin