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How to open a gym and capitalize on the MMA craze

The mixed martial arts (MMA) market has skyrocketed over the last few years. MMA’s popularity stands at third place worldwide; it only lags behind basketball and soccer. If you want to start a gym business, you just about can’t go wrong by holding MMA classes and designing it to accommodate MMA practices.

Due to MMA’s coverage in popular culture, its fan base is colossal, and there’s definitely money to be made. So, if you’ve wondered how to open your own gym, you’re in the right place.

We’re going to show you how to open a gym and capitalize on the MMA craze. First, though, let’s explore why mixed martial arts are so popular.

Diverse Group Of MMA Fighters
El Nariz/Shutterstock

Why is MMA on the rise?

Mixed martial arts is viewed by many to be the fastest-growing sport on Earth. Many think MMA is cool because it combines disciplines, such as:

  • Wrestling
  • Boxing
  • Judo
  • Muay Thai
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The sport primarily became known to American audiences through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) TV contest.

Outside of people becoming intrigued with the conflict side of the sport, it’s well-known that martial arts are an excellent way to increase fitness levels. Because of that, the demand for classes that taught people how to boost their own physical fitness while learning to fight and defend themselves jumped almost overnight.

The martial-arts landscape has changed with MMA finding its place among gyms that traditionally only offered classes in disciplines like boxing, karate, or Taekwondo.

With all that said, here are the steps to opening a gym that can accommodate the MMA market.

Get certified

While no rule says you must get a professional fitness certification, it still helps to show that your business has gained accreditation from groups like:

Not only can accreditation from bodies like this boost your credibility in the eyes of potential customers, but it goes a long way if you need to take out a business loan, too.

In addition to accreditation, you should consider getting certified as a personal trainer. In fact, you really should have experience working in the field outside of a manager’s position before choosing to open a gym.

Get financing

You’re going to need money in order to open your gym. To get the necessary funds, you’re going to need a professionally written business plan. Once you have a plan that’s both well-organized, concise, and that contains accurate figures, you’ll want to approach either private investors or a lending institution like a bank. (That’s assuming you’re not independently wealthy and can fund everything by yourself.)

An online resource you may wish to review to get free loan and business plan advice is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website.

Be smart with your location

By “smart,” we mean “be strategic.” Your gym’s location is extremely important. You should do market research before you ever settle on a location. You need to know who is most likely to use your gym, including their average income and where they typically reside in your city or town. Where is your foot traffic going to come from?

You will want to ensure that your gym is located in a place where high numbers of your target demographic can be found. Make sure that whatever location you choose is easily accessible and can be reached regardless of the method of transport. In other words, people should have the ability to come to your gym with no problem whether they’re traveling on the city bus, car, or on foot.

Unless you buy your building outright, you also need to think about the cost of rent. You’ll need to factor the cost into your operating expenses. There’s the chance that you may also need to alter aspects of the building you choose, so you’ll need to know in advance whether that’s something to which the landlord will agree.

Think about your insurance needs

Most gyms are going to need insurance. That goes double for gyms that incorporate MMA classes. People get hurt while practicing martial arts all the time, and you need to ensure that you protect your business. You’ll definitely need both general liability and accidental medical coverage.

Other kinds of insurance that you may also need include:

  • A commercial umbrella policy
  • Worker’s compensation
  • A commercial property policy

When you shop for insurance, ask the following questions:

  • Does the insurance cover your lease requirements?
  • What gym space does the insurance cover?
  • What kinds of liabilities are covered?
  • Are there special payout requirements?
Female MMA Fighter
El Nariz/Shutterstock

The final word

Starting a gym that can accommodate those with an interest in learning and practicing mixed martial arts isn’t an easy task. However, it’s an endeavor where reaping rewards from hard work is quite doable.

Remember that to get going, you’ll need to obtain certifications (both personal and business), acquire financing, choose a great location, and make sure you’re covered by insurance.

With more people desiring an active lifestyle and an increase in their fitness levels, opening a gym can be a fantastic business choice. Just make sure that you’re meeting legal requirements, you’re well-supplied in terms of equipment and utilities, and that you don’t forget to set aside a budget for marketing.

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