On the hunt for the city's best workout, we stop in at the new cool Kitsilano gym/eatery/hang out spot, Turf.
Ever since Turf set up shop on West 4th Avenue, I’ve wanted to give one of their boxing classes a try. Turf offers eight boxing classes a week and for my first class I'll be working with Tom Taylor, a martial artist who’s spent 20 years developing a training method inspired by the philosophy of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Walking into Turf, it could easily be mistaken for a trendy Kitsilano café, complete with a sprawling light-wood communal table and geometric pendant lamps. But venture further and you’ll find a spacious studio for yoga, strength training, and yes, boxing. The idea here being that Turf is somewhere you can work out, refuel, or simply hangout if the desire strikes. The fact that I don’t know anyone in today’s boxing class is only a minor inconvenience. Everyone pairs off and the loners among us (myself included) smile at the person standing closest to us—partner acquired. We are an even-numbered group of 12, and as such, no one is required to spar with the instructor. After a short lesson in wrapping wrists, I don my Turf-supplied punching mitts and quickly learn that borrowed gloves are a bit like bowling shoes—they have a distinct musty scent specific to used sporting equipment. If you think that boxing class is something you might dig on a regular basis, I’d recommend investing in your own pair. You could pick them up at a sporting goods store or Turf has gloves for sale ($90) in their onsite boutique (in white or black and gold). Taylor runs us through a few strength and conditioning exercises before we begin pummelling one another, and I quickly feel like my regular routine needs to incorporate a few more burpees if I’m going to be boxing in future. Slightly winded off the warm-up and venturing into a few swings, my boxing euphoria hits: there’s just something about the action of punching that instantly drains away life's stresses (rent's going up again, I haven't meal prepped for the week and those vegan wraps aren't going to make themselves)—nagging thoughts and to-dos all, they just slide off. Someone's going to sleep like a baby tonight.
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The class progresses onto more sophisticated drills involving ducking and dodging (the gloved partner takes a left, a right jab, then ducks as the padded partner passes a swing overhead, and so on). We also break into groups of six with three individuals standing in a row while the other three moved down the line performing different swings (upper cuts, jabs, etc.) and then traded off. Despite the obvious emphasis on arms and shoulders, this is most definitely a full-body workout. Before long I was wiping my brow, washing up and sitting down to a well-deserved glass of wine. Turf has a full menu of nutrient-rich smoothies and other appropriate post-workout fuel (energy balls, power porridge, and my personal favourite, the kimchi n’ mash bowl), but they also have a great wine list, and on this rainy evening, I opted for something from the latter to follow my avocado toast.
The Deets: Boxing at Turf
Single drop-in pass: $25 5-pack pass: $115 10-pack pass: $200 2-week unlimited pass: $50 30-day unlimited pass: $140 Turf'r program (unlimited classes and 15 percent discount on kitchen and shop gear, plus a free sweater): $120/month (cancel any time)