Mixed martial arts, MMA, seemingly exploded out of nowhere. Some claim its roots lie in Shooto in Japan or from Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, but the first UFC fight was in the fall of 1993 and MMA never looked back. Now the fastest growing sport in the world, MMA is poised to overtake boxing as the most popular combat sport. If you’d like to be part of MMA consider creating your own gym. Read on for suggestions on making your gym stand out and become the most attractive option for those in training.
Learn the Sport
Before you pick out the building to house your gym and start planning your solar battery array and juice bar, you need to become knowledgeable about MMA by taking part. MMA participants usually have a background in boxing; wrestling; Muay Thai, a stand-up combat sport using fists, shins and joints; or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a take on judo that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. While you don’t need to learn all four, pick at least one, and preferably more, in which to become adept. Fight in competitions. As you move up, consider volunteering to teach lower-level classes. Basically, you need to establish your authority. Even if you aren’t an instructor at your own gym, why would other athletes come to you if you have no name or cachet in the industry? Also by working with others you are creating connections in the community that can lead to friends and students following you to your new business.
Plan Your Location
Once you’ve established yourself in the sport it’s time to plan your location. When you consider your space think about your ideal customer. Are you looking for serious competitors who will find your space no matter what and want only the bare necessities? Are you looking to make it a family-friendly environment, upscale, or appealing to college students? Knowing your customer will help you determine the best location for your business and have an idea of how much you will need to invest in making changes to the interior. For bare necessities, you may only need a mat area, heavy bags, mirrors and fighting ring, but every upgrade will add to your budget. Consider whether you will provide free weights, TRX, or other training equipment and whether you will provide gloves and safety equipment or if customers will need to bring their own. What you want to provide doesn’t just change your equipment budget but the size of building you’ll need.
Even before you open you should be using social media to stir excitement for your new venture. Use all those connections you made in training to spread the word. Use Instagram to show your followers the updates on your business. Use it to help brand your business. If you’re going for the college crowd you may actually want to invest in a solar energy system and juice bar, the kind of perks that are valuable to generations that are concerned about spending their dollars with green businesses and expect a total wellness package. Show off those perks on your social media, tagging them to find followers who place a high value on what you have to offer. As you start hiring instructors, introduce them via your platforms, letting your followers create connections with your staff before they even meet. Emphasize your and their qualifications. Send out mailers in the area and play up your grand opening.
Like most businesses, running an MMA gym becomes a way of life. Make sure it’s the life for you by getting involved early before you even start the business side of your venture. Once you’re on a business path, set your business plan and financials so you can get the appropriate support through investors or a small business loan. While you have special considerations like the possibility of certifications from different bodies, specialized gym insurance and first aid training, your business will take all the hard work and dedication of any new venture to make it a success.
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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