One Academy, Toronto’s newest fitness studio, aims to be more than just a place you hit up for a sweat sesh – their goal is to build “all-around athletes.”
The east end gym pushes members towards that goal with 10 different class types that are programmed on an evolving four-week schedule and designed to keep athletes from hitting a plateau (or getting bored). The types of classes are designed with different goals in mind, whether it be cardio and conditioning (Sprint, Marathon or the two-hour odyssey, Everest), or to focus on an area of the body (Upper Body Jacked, Lower Body and Abs).
Even more than being a gym, One Academy hopes to build a community that helps everyone who passes through its doors set and achieve personal goals.
About the Founder of One Academy
Founder Jesse Bruce, an award-winning obstacle course racer, pacing first in 35 races to date and being named to the 2017 Spartan Pro Team, says that every new member that signs up to One Academy is urged to set goals. They can even write it down and share it by taking a photo in front of the “I Can” wall, or talk about their achievements in the private members Facebook group.
But Bruce hasn’t always been a picture of athleticism. Growing up, Bruce was a self-described skinny and weak kid with low self-confidence that was headed down a pretty dark path. All that started to change for him when he found weightlifting and built muscle and self-confidence.
Bruce has since forged a path in fitness and community on a mission to create positive change in the lives of others. One Academy is a testament to that calling.
Walking into One Academy, which is a massive 10,000 square foot space, can seem daunting. The main workout space includes a massive custom rig, a turf area that runs down the lower level and all the equipment necessary for the functional fitness workouts (including barbells, kettlebells, treadmills and the dreaded assault bike to name just a few).
The studio takes over a concrete garage and has maintained an “industrial chic” aesthetic. Changing rooms feature black lockers, concrete floors and space to change from your office or other attire. To get to the main gym area, you walk through a beautiful concrete room with a large black and gold mural that says “I CAN” – reminding us that we can conquer what is to come.
The lobby area features Pilot Coffee serving freshly roasted coffee, espresso, and lattes.
Instructors are quick to make the space welcoming. I took the Sprint conditioning class, and coach Charan welcomed me to my first class, asking the other members to give me a quick round of applause and encourage me as we ran through the night’s interval training.
That community feeling is why Bruce says One Academy is about “more than fitness,” and the group motivation mentality is visible throughout the gym. The tagline “We are Stronger as One,” is painted in large letters next to the workout floor, and it’s clear that everyone at the gym is living it.
The Sprint class we did centered around seven stations, each of which included two particular exercises. We were given 35 seconds to execute one exercise and 15 seconds to switch to the other exercise, and repeated this pattern at each station three times. One of the exercises within each station is a Sprint or a Strong station and, at the instructor’s cue, we switched between the two “modes” of working. On the incline treadmill, for example, “Strong” was a nice easily uphill power walk and “Sprint” was an all out run as fast as each individual could muster.
Other stations included pull-ups, box jumps (on Sprint mode, including burpees), rowing, and prowlers (frog jumps for Strong mode and all out run for Sprint mode). The gym is stocked with equipment and in our sprint class we seemed to use all of it!
Our class included two instructors walking around and providing workout and form cues, both of whom were incredibly high energy, jacked, and excited to be there.
Our Q&A with Jesse Bruce
We had the chance to catch up with Bruce to find out more about his vision for One Academy.
Well TO Do: What are the goals of One Academy?
Jesse Bruce: We want to have multiple locations of these and empower as many people as we can. We want to challenge people to overcome mountains, either personal or physical. We want to provide a community behind them that pushes them to the top. Challenging them to be better. Giving people a family where they might not otherwise have them.
If I was going to put a number on it I’d say we’d like to have 100 of these locations worldwide. Right now the goal is to impact as many people as we can.
WTD: How is One Academy different from other gyms?
JB: For us our community is like no other, the support and vibe it creates. We are empowering people to set a goal. We encourage everyone who comes in to sit down and set a goal and programming to overcome it.
It’s not a bootcamp, the classes complement each other. All the classes combined will build an all-around athlete. We have a wide demographic of people that come in, from elite athletes to people who are 50 or 60 years old. Everyone can come in and work out to become their best.
WTD: What was your inspiration to start One Academy?
JB: Fitness changed my life. I was a small, skinny, weak kid. I didn’t have any confidence and come from a pretty dark path. I started weightlifting and that gave me something to feel good about. I wanted to share that with other people. I knew I could improve the self-esteem of people who were struggling. So I went back to school, became a personal trainer, went to university and was on the cross-country track team.
We want people to come and be mentally and emotionally stronger. We want to build friendships. We want people to know the feeling of conquering a goal and crossing a finish line that they never knew they would cross. We aren’t an obstacle course gym, we are a get shit done gym.
To learn more about One Academy and find out how you can join a workout, visit oneacademylife.com.