Hi everyone! My name is Raida. I am a member of Sister Fit whenever I’m in Toronto, and I also attend 9Round, a gym specializing in kickboxing fitness, when I’m out of the city. As I’ve attended both gyms regularly, I thought I’d outline my personal experiences at each space.
So, how does Sister Fit measure up to similar gyms?
Scheduling and Flexibility
Throughout the year, I bounce between being a full-time student at Waterloo and having a full-time job, usually in Toronto. As you can guess, this means my schedule and ability to exercise looks incredibly different depending on what I’m up to.
When I’m at school, my day-to-day schedule varies wildly, and with that, it can be difficult to incorporate a workout that requires me to show up for a fixed time slot. Being able to walk into a workout in the middle of the day is incredibly helpful as a busy student; this is the case with 9Round. Of course, this flexibility has different effects depending on the kind of student you are. For example, I also have friends who need scheduled workouts to keep themselves on track.
When I’m working full-time, I greatly prefer a scheduled time to exercise. Fixed time slots are a great motivator. After a long day, it’s hard to convince myself to work out, but remembering it’s either I go now or not at all usually gets me going. It also helps that Sister Fit’s classes are scheduled in the evening. I frequently get home late, so classes starting at 8 p.m. or later work perfectly.
9Round is a co-ed gym, while Sister Fit is women only. Personally, I’m fine with mixed environments (I will note that I am a Muslim woman, but I do not wear the hijab). 9Round is all solo workouts which helps, as you’re never in close contact with others (i.e. sparring). However, while I am mostly comfortable working out in co-ed spaces, I do find that I still become self conscious when doing certain exercises (which is not the fault of anyone at the gym, everyone is lovely!). I can imagine that worry is further amplified when you practice the hijab, or are otherwise uncomfortable in mixed environments. As Sister Fit is a women’s only space, that particular mental burden is alleviated.
Variety of Exercises and Personal Goals
The way that each gym operates is very different. 9Round is a 30-minute workout, nine stations at three minutes each, while Sister Fit is a one-hour class. I feel like each gym has a different purpose, which is reflected in its structure. 9Round is designed purely for exercise (they describe their studios as ‘kickboxing fitness’). Once you’ve gotten the basic offensive techniques down, which the trainers will walk you through on the bags, you have a general sense of what to expect each session. Sister Fit is designed to teach martial arts, so you’ll learn footwork, breathing techniques, defensive skills, and be able to spar with your classmates, in addition to bag work.
The style you’d prefer depends on your personal fitness goals! There’s benefits to both; after a long day of studying, it is nice to just go to town on a bag, but I also really enjoy the mental/physical challenge of learning new techniques and feeling myself improve over time.
Sense of Community
The intention of Sister Fit, I feel, is different from any other gym or workout space. Due to its specialized nature (name another gym dedicated to fostering a safe space for both the Muslim and LGBTQI+ community — you can’t) as well as the efforts of the Sister Fit team, the gym itself is a community hub. There’s regular events, you’ll meet friendly, like-minded people, and after your workout, there’s an 80% chance you’ll get a sweet treat and be able to hang out for a bit with your workout buddies.
Overall, when selecting a gym, it’s important to consider your temperament, priorities, and motivations, as well as what you aim to get out of boxing/Muay Thai /kickboxing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that joining Sister Fit is what sparked my love for (kick)boxing in the first place. I greatly credit Sister Fit and Coach FLG for not only encouraging me to exercise consistently for the first time in my life (almost at the one year mark!), but also for continuously inspiring me and many others to truly view physical exercise as an integral part of their mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. There’s really no place like Sister Fit.
Raida C (she/her) is a fourth-year university student studying Urban Planning. She loves learning new things more than anything and hopes to one day work towards creating more just and equitable spaces.