In August, I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks hanging around Montreal, Canada as part of my new digital nomad lifestyle. I ate amazing food, spoke French (or attempted to), and trained at one of North America’s best MMA gyms, Tristar.
The gym is located on the top floor of an unassuming brick business park building.
I asked the guy at the front desk a lot of questions about required gear, which were his favorite classes, and where I was supposed to go, and never once felt like I was asking something dumb.
Variety of Classes
Over the course of a few weeks, I took classes in kickboxing, Muay Thai, striking & conditioning, sparring, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from some big name coaches, including Firas Zahabi and Sandro Ferr. They also had boxing, wrestling, and karate classes available.
Quality of Instruction
The instruction was excellent. I learned something from every coach in that building (and honestly many of the students taught me something too). In the Muay Thai, striking & conditioning, and Kickboxing classes I got lots of one-on-one instruction. They learned my name and would give me excellent, patient feedback. The only class where I got little personalized instruction was in Coach Firas’ BJJ classes where there were literally 40+ students. Understandable. I still learned something in his classes.
Attitude, Ego, and Atmosphere
Every time I entered that building, I could study professional fighters as they trained. In many sessions, I had the opportunity to roll, spar, and train with them.
Sound intimidating? Sometimes it was. Right up until I smiled and said “Hi, I’m Kaci. What’s your name?” They’d respond and we’d get to work.
These exceptional fighters would patiently help and instruct me. After we finished a round, they’d tell me what they saw and how I could improve. They spent their precious, valuable time (at their job where it’s important they train with the very best) teaching me what they know. And they did it with passion and excitement.
At the end of the night, I’d spend some time stretching next to guys with professional fight records talking about all kinds of subjects: what it’s like to live in the pro fighter housing in the gym (simple, inexpensive housing with few distractions and little privacy), how they got into fighting, where they go to watch fights, my favorite photo equipment, how I got into martial arts, etc.
There were also a surprising number of women in this gym. Granted, I was one of only a couple women in the sparring classes (and sometimes the only one), but there was always at least one other woman in nearly every other class. Most of the women were very warm and welcoming. I felt like I could walk up to any one of them and have a fantastic conversation.
That’s the kind of place Tristar is. I saw no ego. I saw a lot of respect for the coaches, for fellow students (no matter the proficiency, gender, or experience level), for the space, and for martial arts as a whole.
What I found in Tristar was a community of people who love the world of fighting. People who train hard and who love what they do there. They genuinely want to share with you what they love to do. After just a couple weeks other trainees recognized me, said hello, and smiled warmly. In such a short period of time, I could already feel myself being accepted as “one of them”.
Cleanliness of the Gym
The mats were visibly clean and the students took pride in the space. Shoes are not allowed past the front door and they take that rule very seriously. The women’s bathroom was well maintained and clean. (I can’t speak to the men’s locker room.)
They offer flexible gym memberships, including unlimited classes for 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, and beyond. I purchased the unlimited two week package for approximately $110 Canadian (~$80 US). You start to get discounts when you buy the monthly ($145CA / $108 US) or greater packages.
Quality of Instruction: 5/5 stars
Variety of Classes: 5/5 stars
Cleanliness of Gym: 5/5 stars
Attitude, Ego, and Atmosphere: 5/5 stars
Community: 5/5 stars
Cost: 4/5 stars
I honestly can’t wait to go back.