Ultimate Martial Arts, Toronto, ON
I'm writing this review because I've been asked about where I train. I don't consider myself highly qualified to make a review but here I go:
Ultimate Martial Arts has two locations, a Scarborough location and a Brampton Location. I train mainly at the Scarborough location but have been to the brampton location a couple times which in terms of size is bigger, but may have a smaller matted area for training. It also has slightly newer bags to hit.
The Scarborough location has a carpeted area for the cardio classes, and a padded area for the MMA and instructional classes.
The cardio classes are either L/M (low to medium intensity) or M/H. The L/M classes are more instructional and the M/H classes are more about perseverance than good form. For these classes we start with a routine of stretching, stretches, calisthenics, and shadow boxing for about 30 minutes, and then people are welcome to leave if they feel they have had enough of a workout. The next 30 minutes students pair up. One student will hold pads and the other will put on gloves. A couple combinations will be practiced, with exercises in between such as crunches, squats or pushups, and then there will be a couple sets of burnouts - hitting the pads quickly in continuous 1,2 punches, or sets of round kicks. After that padholder and strikers switch pads. At the end of class we form a circle and bow out.
The white level (beginner) muay thai classes last 1 to 1.5 hours, and begin with shadow boxing, then some drills to work on defensive skills, footwork, distancing or some other boxing concept, then people pair up and work on combinations and switch pads halfway through. At the end there will be a circuit of exercises in a 30/20/10 pyramid. Most of these exercises focus on the abdominals such as leg raises and russian twists. For anyone who is not familiar with circuits or pyramids, you do 30 of each exercise continuously, then 20, then 10.
The gold level begins with sparring, and then some pad work.
The MMA class has typically different exercises incorporated into the warmups such as running, shrimping, fireman's carries etc. The instructors welcome students to come to class with something they want to learn. Most of the class we will be in class working on techniques such as triangle chokes, escapes and sweeps. At the end of class we have rolling usually from on the knees. The rolling is basically submission wrestling.
K/C - Kettlebell conditioning classes. These classes are hard conditioning classes that have you doing conditioning with a kettlebell for 1/2 hour.
Some things to get used to if you train here: They tend to have their own terminology, eg. swing kick, spear jab, v block. You won't get many classes with the head instructor unless your a top student. I've occasionally gotten coaching that is suspect or contradicts other coaching I've received there, especially when someone fills in for the regularly scheduled instructor.
Testing: You do pay fees for testing. That said, the tests are few and far between. You need to test to get Gold level status which requires a minimum of 6 months or previous experience. After that you can go to the gold level classes. For explanation of the other tests see the schedule on the website.
Explanation of ratings:
Aliveness - beginners do not spar except in MMA classes. There is light sparring with a lot of gear in gold level classes. Some students compete in amature and professional kickboxing and MMA, but since this isn't typical of most students I give this a 7 based on the sparring at gold level.
Equipment: 7. They have mats, pads, a ring, punching bags, kettlebells, and the scarborough location has a small weight training area. The mats in scarborough are a bit worn though. Students can purchase from front desk or supply their own hand wraps, boxing gloves, and protective equipment.
Instructor student ratio: 3 only based on the guidlines. Our head instructor seldom teaches classes. The senior students (who are staff) teach classes, but do make sure to give everyone pointers during each class.
Attitude/Atmosphere: Generally a positive attitude. Many different faces. Though they retain a lot of students, there seems to be a lot of new faces all the time, indicating some degree of turnover, but I think its within normal for martial arts.
Grappling: There is an MMA class, but if you really wanted to compete in MMA, in my opinion there aren't quite enough classes. You can learn some good basics from the MMA classes though.