Choosing An MMA Gym
Having worked in the MMA scene for about ten years now I have had the privilege of seeing many of the fighters that I have met become great at their craft. It almost goes without saying that everyone wants to be a fighter now of days. But there seems to be a disinterest most times from coaches when it comes to their fighters. I’m not talking about the douche bag or baguette in your cardio class that’s telling everyone they are fighters. I am talking about the people that are taking time out of their day to come in and take an ass whooping in hopes of one day being even respected enough to be called a fighter. The guys and girls who don’t waste their breath telling you that they fight because they are exhausted from a long day of training, and still find a way to make it work so they can eat. With some of these athletes giving it their all it amazes me that most coaches don’t care about whether they’re successful or not. Not all gyms are created equal and believe me there are a lot of bad gyms as well as coaches out there. Recently I traveled to a car dealership in Las Vegas and was amazed when a garage door was opened and a full fledged mixed martial arts gym was sitting inside. Fighters pulling tires in the heat and plugging away at heavy bags. The gym didn’t have a big brand name behind it or even a backing by popular pro fighters. It was blood and sweat with a heavily tattooed coach leading the way. He was genuinely respected by everyone in the gym and when he spoke about his team and the sport of MMA there was a passion that quickly became contagious. My time spent there reminded me of why I love this sport. I was reminded of the time when I ran an MMA youth program and how as a coach you shape your athletes outlook on the sport and the world in general. The great coaches are always remembered for their openness and honesty that they share with their team. Their dedication to their athletes is unparalleled and always remembered by those that they have coached.
So why is it that when I walk into gyms known for producing great fighters I don’t get that same feeling? I see tons of wasted talent hanging out, laying on the mats and bullshitting around. Then, there he or she is. One person who is trying to learn how to better their game and make this gym proud to have them on their team, and the coach doesn’t even want to answer any questions. It’s almost as if this person is an annoyance to them. They will not waste their time helping out someone who isn’t a household name. The feeling I get in there is one of confusion. How can some of these gyms pride themselves on having the best athletes if they aren’t taking the time to invest in their future? Actually, not even the future. The present. Some of these coaches are busy texting as the fighters are going through drills. The best is when they start showing me pictures on Facebook while there is a fighter standing in front of them wanting another set of eyes on their technique.
It is hard sometimes to see this sort of thing going on. My biggest peeve with it is that it is in human nature to try and align yourself with those that you “believe” are the best. Sometimes we can get so caught up in a name that we lose sight of the things that are important to us. Here is the thing, a big name gym isn’t always the best thing. Sometimes hard work, dedication and your own determination are the only things that matter. Don’t get me wrong, some of these big gyms are like tight knit families also. Some of the bigger name gyms take pride in what they represent. It is a privilege that must be earned if you wear their logo on your shorts. I have trained in quite a few gyms in my day and there are only a few that will fit your needs. When you are choosing a gym, take your time. Try as many out as you can and you may be surprised where you end up. Remember that you will have many choices in your MMA career and sometimes the answer isn’t always obvious. The beauty of all of this is that while you train in different locations you can make a lot of great friends along the way.
Keep an eye out for my iFight videos,- that will be posted in the Flip’s Side video tab- so you can get a brief look at some of the gyms I stop at along the way. We also have a featured gym section that takes you into one gym every month. Here you will be able to see some interviews that will let you get to know the coaches from these gyms better. Hopefully it helps those of you looking for a gym in the Las Vegas area.