Learn how to kick butt and get into shape at the same time
By: Gustan Koumantaros
Immediately after your first class at Toronto Kickboxing and Muay Thai Academy (TKMT) (433 Danforth Ave.), you feel the greatest sense of accomplishment for having survived. In the previous hour and a half, you were pushed to your physical and mental limits doing what at times seemed impossible.
photo by ironsidemma
You’re participating in one of TKMT’s level one classes, and are unsure of what to expect from the gym, its instructors, your peers, and yourself. You feel like you’re entering a gladiatorial arena, readying to be fed to a pride of lions. All your senses are heightened. You notice the focused intensity of a built young woman kicking the crap out of a heavy bag. You gather she’s been doing this a long time, but you dare not ask her. Instead, you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. You question your own ability to deal with this intimidating environment. Measures of adrenaline and anxiousness stream through your body, and you waver between staying and going. You ultimately choose to stay, and are thankful that the greeting staff is able to alleviate a lot of that intimidation. They create a welcoming atmosphere that permeates throughout the gym.
The cost of your first class at TKMT is $10, a bargain introductory price for anyone looking to give kickboxing or Muay Thai a try. Part of the gym’s appeal is its Spartan look and feel. There’s nothing flashy or over complicated about TKMT—what you see is what you get. This puts the focus where it needs to be: on Muay Thai and kickboxing. TKMT, which owns and operates two other facilities in the city, has established a reputation for being a female-friendly gym. Their website claims that over 50 per cent of their members are female, making TKMT your best bet if you’re a woman looking for a fun new fitness option in the city.
Class starts with about five minutes of jump rope, which is a workout in itself if you haven’t exercised in a while. But that’s only the warm-up. The pace picks up quickly and your sense of time disappears as you run through a circuit of exercises that challenge your strength, cardio, and will power. There are times when you feel like you can’t continue, but the energy of the class and the camaraderie established with your fellow classmates compels you to find that extra gear. Just when you think you can’t go on, you give a little more. Fear is a large part of the process, and being able to push beyond that is the goal. The gratifying feeling of breaking through your mental barriers is like nothing you’ve experienced.
The majority of class is spent learning basic Muay Thai and kickboxing techniques. You’re paired with a fellow classmate and taught how to stand, punch, elbow, kick, and knee. Each pair takes turns holding pads for the other to practice on. Instructors are there to make sure everybody is doing everything right. Class ends much in the same way it began; with a circuit of exercises that combine the Muay Thai and kickboxing skills you just finished learning. By the end of it all you’re exhausted and your body is sore all over—you know that this was the most grueling exercise you’ve ever done. But in the process, you learned a lot about yourself and your previously perceived limitations, and through it all you survived, hungry to come back for more.
If you’re looking for a challenge and an experience you won’t regret, get your ass kicked into shape at TKMT. Visit www.tkmt3.ca for more information.