◊ THE CLASS: Kickbox ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
Boxing gloves. If you don’t have them, they have spares
Indoor runners (you can rock bare feet when you’re a pro)
Big Hit Kickboxing Studios is one of the most highly anticipated studio reviews we’ve had coming for a while. The fan following of this boutique boxing meca is intense. Anyone who knows it LOVES it and are dedicated fans, and for those that don’t, it’s just a matter of time until they discover it as they head into ultra-expansion mode. Big Hit draws on the premise that there is “something in our human nature that makes it gratifying when we hit things, but it can be challenging to find a way to do so without getting into trouble”. Hah. We were dubious of that natural claim until we went to the class and took a few good swings at our Bob and we were like…ok, yah we get it. We’re INTO this. Big Hit has spent the last 5 years perfecting the game of targeting clients that aren’t necessarily serious fighters with long term goals of being MMA fighters but that are drawn to a boutique studio atmosphere that’s welcoming to all levels of skill and fitness and want to see what it feels like to throw a few fisticuffs. Do not stress if you have never kick-boxed before. Even as a 4+ month preggo momma with little kickboxing experience and a miniature cross-trainer with none, we rocked the class, felt totally comfortable and could take it at our own pace. Plus, as soon as you get the satisfaction from your first punch at your Bob, all previous trepidation will disappear faster than you can say #lightsout. This is not just a physical workout that will push you hard, but a mental release that feels good somewhere in the soul. Don’t worry mum, we’re still lovers first.
Big Hit Kickboxing has four locations in and around Toronto, including their most recently opened studio in Burlington (534 Brant Street) and another on the way set to open in Fort York in the new year. We visited their Toronto location on Sudbury St, just north of King West across from Liberty Village, and the other locations are in Oakville (178 Lakeshore Road East) and Park Lawn (80 Park Lawn Road). The Toronto location is easy to find and quick to get to especially from the west, with fast access from King Street and a few minutes from the Gardiner. Probably a bit out of the way if you’re an east ender or northern dweller, however transit makes it accessible with streetcars running constantly along King or Queen Street.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
There are 8 different styles of classes at Big Hit that range from 30 minutes to an hour. Most sit at the 45 minute mark, which is more than enough to get your ass seriously kicked. Trust. We took the most popular 45-minute Kickboxing class and after 10 minutes of passionate punching we were severely tuckered, more on this later. They also have Powerbox, Ballinbox, Crossbox, Corebox, Roundbox, the shortest class Revbox (30 min) and the longest yard Smartbox at 60 minutes. The schedule is super convenient with a class running almost every hour and usually about 7-9 classes available throughout the day Monday to Friday. They have the early riser slot covered with a 7am or 6am start from Monday to Thursday and weekend classes wrap by 2:30pm. Important to note, it’s pretty necessary to sign-up for Big Hit ahead of time as weekend classes and after work slots, in particular, fill-up fast. The 10:30am and 12:30pm Saturday classes, for example, are usually full a few days before, and after work 5:30 and 6:30 classes have ~2 spots left if you leave it to that morning to sign-up. They also have a free ap to book classes directly from that’s easy to use, syncs to your calendar and allows you to pay directly in the app.
As far as pricing goes, Big Hit is pretty pricey for a drop-in situation at $30 pre tax. They’re clearly trying to encourage you to commit to them long term, which is very enticing when a) you try the class and b) you see the steep discounts they give for packages and memberships. They have a sweet new member trial offer that includes 2 weeks of unlimited classes, a pair of boxing gloves, hand wraps, and a glove bag for $59 which is pretty amaze considering buying boxing gloves alone can range anywhere from $40-$100+. In addition to that, there are 3 pricing tiers; unlimited memberships, punch pack memberships and pad training, which is mono-e-mono private boxing training. The best deals are the 30 class passes, that drop per class rates to $14 per, and the 6-month “Ultimate” membership that are ~$11.50 per class if attending a min of 3/week. Memberships include free towel service, are usable at all locations and include the new member trial boxing glove pack. There’s also such a thing as “Family Packs” and “Corporate Packs” that allow memberships to be shared between families or employees – smart guys, v smart.
- One Month Membership (Pro): $179
- Three Month Membership (Athlete): $159 per month
- Six Month Membership (Ultimate): $139 per month
Punch Pack Memberships
- Drop-in (or “One Hit Wonder”): $30
- 10 Class Pass (Lightweight): $180 ($18 per class)
- 20 Class Pass (Middleweight): $320 ($16 per class)
- 30 Class Pass (Heavyweight): $420 ($14 per class)
- Family Pack: $600 for 40 classes ($15 per class)
- Corporate Pack: $750 for 50 classes ($15 per class)
Pad Training (45-minute sessions)
- Single Session (Lite): $75
- 10 Sessions (Pro): $70 per
- 20 Sessions (Athlete): $65 per
The vibe at Big Hit is all about the work, the sweat and the Bobs. There is a small foyer/sign-in desk with space to the right to leave jackets and shoes. With a class capacity of 20 people that are full 99% of the time, the front area can get crowded especially during the changeover of classes. Behind the sign-in wall is the one big open gym lined with 10 Bob’s on each side and accented with motivating quotes in black, white and red. Big Hit’s moto is You vs. You that can be seen above the mirrors as you stare at yourself with your gloves on, psyching yourself up ready to throw some big swings. Through to the other side of the gym/studio are the change rooms and washrooms that are very basic and don’t have a ton of amenities. With showers but no extra fluff to get ready with (i.e. hair dryers, hair ties etc.) it’s there as a necessity rather than a convenience to get ready from. There are also not any lockers, the idea is that you keep your things with you in the gym beside your Bob. If you’re using their free gloves for class we would caution to either wrap your hands, bring your own, or initiate a serious scrub down afterwards. The gloves are unavoidably sweaty and smelly, we had a not-so-great experience with a cut that got much worse after class. Ewwww 🙁
The crowd for our class was all women, which isn’t necessarily a reflection of all classes as guys frequent this bad-ass gym often. The class capacity is 20 so there is plenty of space to thrown big swings and dangerous kicks. The women in our class ranged in age from low 20’s to 50+ and it was an awesome group of inspiring, dedicated and focused strong women. With a range of fitness levels, ~95% of the fighters had been to the studio before and had a good sense of what to do, however it’s such an independent experience nobody cares or even notices if you’re a beginner figuring out the class. Your focus is all on you, yourself and your Bob.
- 2 showers in mens and womens change rooms
- 1 washroom
- Free gloves (but communal)
- Wraps can be purchased
- Wet cold towels at the end of the workout (YAS!)
Big Hit was born and raised in Toronto in June 2014 by Gidon Gabbay and his fellow founders. Since then, they have been through stages of growing pains as they learned how to evolve, how to find their niche, franchise, and now move into mega expansion mode. The honest, real, inspiring and no-effing around attitude is what Gidon has perfected over the years and it shows in the massive fan following they have accumulated. The studio has a passionately loyal and bad-ass crew of over 2,000 members and part of that is due to the incredible instructors. With over 24 coaches across the 4 locations, some teach at more than one location, some don’t, but the 50/50 split of male to female coaches are all hella motivating, have diverse backgrounds and are fiercely dedicating to you and the art of kicking ass.
Usman was awesome. He took time at the beginning of class to give us a few pointers when he picked up that we were brand new to the studio and kickboxing in general. His overall message was, “do you know your right from your left? If so, then your good”. All other instructions from him throughout the class were fast, loud and to the point. He would demonstrate combinations once, sometimes twice, so you had to pay attention to keep up. He yelled at us (in an inspiring and motivating way) and constantly pushed us for the full 45-minutes. Usman was at our side multiple times throughout the class correcting us in the moment on our form, or reminding us of the combinations as they grew more difficult as the class went on. He was cool, clearly a kick-ass fighter himself because his form was bloody perfect, and you found yourself wanting to impress him with how tough you could be, which is a space we don’t play in as much in dance, pilates, yoga and barre classes so it was an awesome change that we embraced whole heartedly. Seek out Usman. I’m sure the other instructors are awesome as well, but it was clear that Usman’s class was full of fan followers and dedicated fighters.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
Without a shadow of a doubt, we’re rating this class Way Hard. We found ourselves completely wiped after only 10 minutes of punching for our life, and also shocked it had only been 10 minutes and we still had another 35 to go. Because of the independent nature of the class you can push yourself as hard or as fast as you like. At the end of the day, this is the closest you’re going to get to fighting a human that doesn’t strike back so you decide how intense you want to be.
The class structure is super dynamic. Combinations start out simple at the beginning with versions of the 4 basic punches; the jab, the cross, the hook and the uppercut. As the class progresses, combinations become more difficult and start to incorporate kicks and different kinds of punches. Nearly every 10 minutes there’s a break from punching to drop to the floor and do rounds of planks, soldier planks and abs for 2-3 minutes straight. Then you’re back at it, building on your previous combination. The pick-up is fast and you have to pay attention to know what’s going on as some combinations are 6-8 movements long, like one of our favorite; left ribs, left face, right kick (with shins only, not feet), right punch to the chest, left punch to the face and knee to the groin. Take that Bob, you dead. The key is to keep your hands up to always protect your face and punch with all you got. Towards the end we were doing sit-ups on the ground and punching our Bob in a 1-2 (left, right) combo or what’s called a “burn-out” where you just punch for your life for 30 seconds straight, which is insanely hard. It goes without saying that between all of this, it ends up being a full-body workout that leaves you super sweaty and crazy fatigued. We were sore days following, particularly in our shoulders and abs.
Although I kept pace for the whole class with my preggo belly, I took breaks when I needed to and drank an insane amount of water. Because I had to take it easier than I would have liked in some spots, I was daydreaming of the day that Big Hit can play an integral role in my postpartum back-to-my-closest-bod journey. I feel like after 3 weeks of classes here, your body and mind will transform. This is, most definitely, one of the hardest workouts we have done to date but it’s more than a physical challenge, there’s a mental release to it that’s euphoric and addicting and we totally get why Big Hit has the loyal following that it does.
To try this class or anything else on their schedule, see Big Hit’s contact info below.
Big Hit Kickboxing Studio Web: www.bighit.ca E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org PHONE | 647.748.2448 Instagram | Facebook | Twitter