MMA is more popular than ever. There are lots of new gyms popping up everywhere. How do you choose the right one for you?
Firstly it depends on your goals. If you are doing it for fun or to lose weight, the most important thing is to find a gym in a convenient location where you enjoy the training and where you get along well with the coaches and training partners.
If however you planning to fight then choose your gym very carefully and take the following factors into account.
- Quality Fight Team –Fighting is actually a team sport. The team consists of coaches and training partners. Without them it would be impossible for the fighter to compete at the highest level. Make sure the gym has a proper fight team, a group of fighters who are actively competing in MMA. You need to be sparring regularly with other active competitors this is not the same as sparring with a few out of shape BJJ guys even if one of them had a few boxing matches back in the 1970’s
- Fight Team Training – Make sure there are sessions where the fighters can train together. Avoid sparring with the non-fighters where possible (although grappling is usually ok). Weekend warriors will often treat sparring matches as if it was an actual fight, they want to prove to themselves that they could actually compete at a high level as well and they don’t care that you are 2 weeks out from a real fight.
- Coach won the state karate title when he was fifteen and has seen every UFC – Look for coaches who have actually fought or are currently fighting. This can be easily verified via Google, YouTube or Sherdog.com. There are some great coaches who haven’t actually fought in MMA themselves but for every Greg Jackson there are hundreds of unscrupulous Sensei’s who are trying to cash in on the MMA boom with their limited knowledge and experience. Check their credentials first.
- Three Cages, six boxing rings and no fighters! – Flashy Gym doesn’t mean quality gym – Some of the best gyms I’ve trained around the world – (Vos & Meijiro Gym in Amsterdam, Paraestra & Keshukai Gyms in Tokyo) have been very basic but they have some of the best fighters in the world. Don’t be fooled by flashy facilities and expensive equipment, it is no substitute for quality coaching and good training partners. As long as the gym has a good standard of hygiene and safety that is all you need.
- One more Rep! – Beware of over emphasis on conditioning training at the expense of skills training. This can sometimes be done by inexperienced coaches to cover up the gaps in their knowledge and might make you a little bit fitter but won’t really make you a better fighter. Don’t mistake hard training for good quality training; remember you are training to get better at fighting you’re not trying to be the best at exercising.
- Where did these guys pop up from? – Check the history of the gym & trainers. If the gym is any good they will have been around for a while. Make sure that they haven’t just recently turned their Kung Fu dojo into an MMA gym to cash in on the UFC boom. Once again this can easily be checked with Google.