So you’re interested in Mixed-Martial Arts eh? Even if you don’t intend on fighting, MMA training is one of the best workouts you can do. MMA fighters train harder than most athletes due to the extreme nature of the sport. MMA Fighters are known for their functional fitness workouts focusing on core strength, cardio, agility, and explosiveness. Whether you are interested in fighting or you just want to train like a fighter, it is important to choose the right gym. Just because an MMA gym or a school claims to be great on their website or over the phone doesn’t mean they are the best fit for you.
The first thing you should do is check your area and see what you can find for MMA gyms. Some cities may not have gyms that are exclusively MMA gyms, but have other gyms that offer MMA programs. MMA focuses on the most effective techniques of Kickboxing, Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu(bjj), and other martial arts. Many Kickboxing and BJJ schools offer MMA programs. People will often make the mistake of signing up at the first place they try or even the place that is the closest or cheapest. While you can end up at a great facility this way I highly recommend shopping around. Make a list of ten or so gyms you want to check out and begin narrowing it down from there. You should see if you can find reviews online about the gym along with pricing information.
If you are interested in training to become a fighter you may want to do research on the trainers and see if their experience fits your needs. I recommend after doing your research you should narrow your choices down to only a few. Call the MMA gyms you are interested in checking out and see if they offer a free introductory class and schedule an appointment. It can often times annoy a gym owner or the person running the program if people just show up without notice. They typically will need to prepare some paperwork you must sign before you can participate and also give you information on what you should bring or expect.
What to Bring to the MMA Gym?
Before you go to your first MMA class you should remember to bring a few things just in case. While you won’t need to run out and spend hundreds of dollars on training equipment, you should pick up a few things before visiting the gym. The most important things are a mouth guard and a cup. At most gyms you can get by for a while without any of your own gear because a lot of them offer loaner gear. However you probably don’t want to borrow someones mouth guard or cup. Someone once asked me to borrow my mouth guard, “hey dude, rinse it off and give it to me.” Needless to say it didn’t happen, I gave him a strangely confused look and carried on with what I was doing. When you go to the gym for the first time BRING WATER! Not every gym or school has a water fountain, some of them sell bottled water but don’t count on it. You don’t want to be the guy who can continue working out because you forgot to bring water. A sweat rag and a gym bag should also be brought so you can manage your belongings and keep your perspiration under control. If you are interested in picking up some gear, there are many options for cheap MMA gear.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen guys walk into the gym for the first time wearing MMA fight shorts, a TapouT shirt, and say “I wanna fight.” Please, if you don’t want to be the butt of everyone’s jokes for a couple weeks don’t do this. Around 90% of those guys don’t ever return after the first workout session anyway. I recommend wearing a non-loose fitting tee shirt and either gym shorts or swim shorts if you have them. Baggier clothes can get in the way of grappling and clinching and can even put you at risk for breaking a finger or two. Always bring sneakers just in case, but often times you won’t need them; you just never know when the trainers might want to go outside for a run.
There are certain things you want to avoid doing or saying at the gym. I always say don’t try to be the tough guy, cool guy, or the funny guy on your first day. Typically because people over compensate when they are nervous or are in a new environment. Be humble, don’t assume you’re tougher than anyone. Encourage your training partners, you should treat them as a team and not as opponents. Drop the ego, FAST. No one cares if you landed a cool combo on a fighter more experience than you. Just train, and train to get better. Try to spar at your own speed. I often times see people who want to impress everyone and try crazy things in sparring and sometimes get hurt. I don’t know how often we have to tell people to slow down in sparring at my gym, standup or grappling. A common mistake people make when getting into grappling is trying to go too fast and end up gassing out and getting submitted. Be patient with everything, you aren’t going to be ready for your first UFC fight after a month of training. Set training goals and meet them, and train harder after that.