If you’re an MMA gym owner, renovating may not be the first priority for you this year. Unlike the uber-fancy, high-end gyms that are popular these days, MMA gyms tend to be about function over form. And your member may prefer a more bare-bones, gritty experience. But there is always room for improvement, and you might be surprised by how much just one of these options could change your gym for the better.
1. Entrance and Lobby
When trying to attract and retain new members, first impressions are vitally important. This means however the entrance and lobby are looking is how people are going to feel about the rest of their experience at your gym. Sure, you might not need pan flutes and a trickling fountain, but having a seriously outdated lobby is going to make people less likely to inquire about memberships. Even something as simple as updated glass doors and some nicer, sleeker furniture can go a long way towards making your first impression a good one.
2. Design and Decor
You’ve probably been to a gym before where the owner overdid it on the decorations. Huge pictures of generic athletes and words like “SWEAT” or “POWER” take up 90% of the wall space. But some well-executed decor can do a lot to make a drab space a little more interesting. It’s important to make sure whatever your theme is goes along with the message and purpose behind your MMA gym.
Do you want bold colors and intense imagery to get your members in the mood to work hard? Or do you want a sleek and minimal design that conveys the seriousness behind MMA training? Deciding on an overall theme is going to help tremendously when you want to change up the decor or create designs for marketing materials. Rather than having a gym aesthetic that clashes with your messaging, you’ll be sending a cohesive message that helps your gym stand out.
Your lighting preferences are largely going to depend on what options are available for your gym. If you’re on the top floor of your building, you could rely on natural lighting for much of the day, even installing some skylights. But many MMA gyms opt for a darker lighting scheme, and it’s not just for practicality and cost-effectiveness.
Having intense lighting, even opting for LEDs in red or blue, can create an ambiance that reflects how you want your fighters to feel. It can also make your members feel like they’re in a “real” fighting arena if you lower the lights around cages and sparring areas. But it’s important to have enough lighting for safety and navigation. While you may want to keep the lighting dim in some areas, keep hallways and areas around equipment well-lit for the best results.
4. Working With the Structure
The “industrial” aesthetic has become increasingly popular for weight lifting, powerlifting, and fighting gyms, and for a good reason. Not only does this aesthetic give off the vibe of spartan minimalism, but it’s also dirt cheap as it allows the gym to work with the building’s existing structure. If your MMA gym operates out of a building with exposed pipes or brick, concrete floors, and materials you could call “rustic”, then going with an industrial re-design can save you money while giving your aesthetic a big update.
Lean into this design option by going with metal furniture in darker hues, using industrial materials to create signage, and re-designing your logo to fit a more masculine feel. If you don’t want to go too far in that direction, you can easily soften things up by going for natural wood materials over metal or concrete. And adding a few plants here and there never hurt anyone. Renovating a gym is a great way to make your space feel more inviting and refreshed to existing members, and may be the key to attracting new ones, as well.
Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.
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