Mixed martial arts (MMA) has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing. Some experts even think that MMA is on its way to becoming more popular than the NFL.
MMA training can be extremely healthy for you. It's a cardiovascular workout plus strength training in a single session—and it can be a great way to work off pent-up emotions. Given all these advantages, it's no wonder that MMA is gaining ground.
It’s safe to say that starting an MMA gym can be a great business move. However, it will require an investment in specific athletic gear and equipment. This guide provides an introduction to essential MMA training equipment.
MMA is a serious sport, and people can get hurt if a gym isn't correctly set up and equipped.
This section will explain critical concerns that need to be addressed before you get started, from the gym space to safety requirements.
An MMA gym needs significant room to accommodate multiple fight flooring areas and general training equipment.
The correct location can be critical. For example, an old warehouse or manufacturing facility can offer the wide-open space that a gym often demands.
While such facilities can be converted into gyms, there are many factors to consider. The facility may need remodeling to accommodate gym-goers safely. Ventilation, lighting, plumbing, and electricity are all critical concerns.
Heating and cooling are also issues - an old warehouse likely won't have a top-quality HVAC system, for example. When converting this kind of space into a gym, it's essential to consider the added costs that such structural renovations can add to the project.
When planning an MMA gym, one place to start is to draw a visual map of the layout.
The gym will likely need space for at least one fight floor. However, gym-goers may also appreciate having a space for other types of exercise, like circuit training or weight lifting.
There are also logistical considerations, such as a reception or check-in area and a back office. If the gym offers a locker room for people to change and shower, this additional need for space also needs to be accounted for.
MMA gym safety is a critical consideration.
Every gym should be equipped with a comprehensive first aid kit in case of injuries. The kit should include athletic tape, ACE bandages, cold packs, eyewashes, antibiotic ointment, and finger splints.
In addition to having emergency equipment on hand, it's also essential to set clear safety guidelines for the gym's use. Before an MMA gym opens, you may want to write out safety rules (like no eye-gouging or head-butting) and post them throughout the space.
With the physical space set up and safety equipment standing by, it's time to start thinking about MMA training equipment.
What gear is needed to ensure a comprehensive MMA workout?
Once the dimensions of the fight flooring are confirmed, it's time to purchase mats.
Different mats serve different purposes. Options include gymnastics crash mats (perfect for hard throws), wrestling mats (great for grappling), and puzzle mats, which offer multipurpose versatility.
Safety is another consideration when selecting mats. Usually, 40-millimeter mats are considered ideal. A thicker mat allows for more aggressive takedowns and lighter falls, offering improved protection.
Unfortunately, thicker mats can be more expensive. While 20-millimeter mats can be used as an alternative, they should ideally be equipped with an underlay for safety purposes. A 20-millimeter mat can offer sufficient cushioning for stand-up sparring, for example.
Bags are often considered a necessity for any MMA gym.
Muay Thai bags can help athletes to practice their punching and kicking. Note that prices will vary depending on the bag's type, size, and whether it comes filled or unfilled.
Heavy bags come in various forms. A banana bag is tough and offers excellent resistance for practicing kicks, for example. Meanwhile, a heavy bag is shorter and softer—ideal for boosting boxing skills. There are also angle bags, teardrop bags, and speed bags.
Investing in a diversity of bags can help to accommodate different purposes and skill levels. It’s important not to forego quality in place of quantity, however. Opting for high-quality equipment from reputable brands like Everlast can help to ensure durability and safety for all users.
MMA is a physically rigorous sport.
Even when people aren't training their fighting skills, they will likely have to work out to maintain their general endurance and strength. For this reason, it can be extremely useful to have conditioning equipment in your MMA gym.
Conditioning equipment can include battle ropes, kettlebells, speedballs, and swiss balls. A "slam man" dummy is another excellent tool for conditioning while simultaneously improving strike accuracy. Read reviews to see which one best fits your gym's needs and budget.
The section above covered the "must-have" items for any MMA gym. However, some "nice to have" goods will take an MMA training center to the next level.
Crossfit is popular among many MMA athletes because it helps to build strength, endurance, and mental resilience.
Adding Crossfit equipment to an MMA facility can thus be another attractive benefit for many gym-goers. The good news? Crossfit gear is overall fairly inexpensive.
Jump ropes and speed ropes are two more great examples of nice to have equipment. A 24-inch plyo box is another affordable addition. Other Crossfit essentials include a complete weight set, incline bench, flat bench, and a squat rack. Kettlebells, quick-release collars, a pull-up bar, and a ring set are also great options.
A ring or cage is another great MMA gym addition.
Note that pro-level MMA requires a cage for safety reasons. A ring is suitable for novices. It's thus advisable to have one of each. A five- or six-rope ring is best, although a cheaper three-rope ring will also do if you’re on a stricter budget.
However, when it comes to cages, it's wise not to cut costs. You probably want your cage to be top-quality, in order to offer maximum sturdiness and durability to hold up during tough fights. Opting for reputable brands such as PRO MMA® or Ringside can be a solid choice here.
A decent selection of dumbbells and free weights is another valuable addition for any MMA gym.
Athletes can use free weights to tailor their workouts, increasing strength and stamina. Installing mirrors on the walls will allow gym-goers to check their technique.
When selecting free weights, it can be best to opt for diversity.
A variety of fixed dumbbells is one option. Alternatively, adjustable dumbbells allow for the weight of a single pair of dumbbells to be adjusted as needed. Racks and barbells are also handy.
MMA fighting often requires more than gym equipment alone.
Some valuable extras can help make the training experience more productive and fun. This section covers additional accessories that could be provided by the gym (or that users might be expected to bring themselves).
It’s usually a good idea to advise your MMA members to wear gloves.
While many people bring their own, it can be helpful to have extras on hand for newbies or people who may forget. Aim to keep at least two to three pairs on hand, depending on the size of your gym. Variety is also important, as different types of gloves serve different purposes and skill levels.
A typical boxing glove can be great for pad training and bag punching. However, a lighter, softer glove is best for sparring. Also, you may want to invest in some MMA gloves, which start with a weight as little as four ounces. These are used primarily for competition-level pros. Browse popular brands here.
MMA can be a seriously demanding sport!
Even the strongest fighters likely know the value of protection while training. Protective gear helps to ensure a safe training environment. This could include shin guards, rash guards, cups, ear guards, mouth guards, and headgear.
Of course, some items—like mouth guards and cups—can't be shared. However, a gym can provide backup headgear in case. When browsing headgear, assess characteristics like padding, visibility, and ventilation.
Success in MMA fighting isn't always just about athletic training.
Diet can also play a key role. Many athletes rely on supplements and shakes to help maintain muscle mass and general wellbeing, with protein shakes being one popular option.
While adding a full-scale shake bar to an MMA gym may not be feasible, many fitness center owners boost their income by selling beneficial supplements and shakes. Keep tabs on popular products for MMA fighters and consider stocking them for your gym.
Starting your own MMA gym is a serious commitment, but it can be incredibly rewarding both personally and financially.
In addition to investing in the logistical elements, like space and MMA training equipment, there are also administrative aspects to keep in mind.
Wodify helps fitness-minded entrepreneurs get their businesses off to successful starts with their all-in-one fitness management software. More than 5,000 gyms worldwide are already using Wodify to streamline operations from membership management to billing automation.
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