Choosing an MMA Gym

Choosing an MMA Club That’s Right for You

At the highest level of mixed martial arts, the right MMA club and trainers are what separate the best fighters from the rest.

Whether you’re a world champion like Georges St-Pierre or a beginner who’s never thrown a punch or attempted a submission, the right MMA club and environment will maximize your experience and help you achieve your goals.  Follow these 6 simple steps to find the best MMA club for you.

1. Decide what you want to study

Before you join up, decide what you want from your MMA experience. Are you looking to focus on one specific discipline – perhaps Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) or wrestling for grappling, Muay Thai or Boxing for striking? If your goal is to become a complete mixed martial artist, consider a combination of all of the above arts.

2. Decide how serious you want your MMA experience to be

There’s no right or wrong in terms of anyone’s commitment level to mixed martial arts; everyone has a different goal. Some aspiring fighters dream of glory, competing worldwide in combat at the highest levels; some fight for lucrative paydays; others simply want a club that lets them release stress, stay in shape, meet people and have fun. It helps to know exactly what you want to accomplish before you start your search for the perfect club.

3. Examine the caliber and range of training

MMA club can vary greatly in the types of training they offer. For instance, some gyms focus on recreational training while others are geared towards competition.  Some MMA clubs feature both. Ideally, you’ll want a club that offers a rich experience for both amateur and advanced mixed martial artists. That way, you’ll continue to grow and improve under one roof.

Secondly, you should examine the range of styles and disciplines offered. Some may specialize in Muay Thai or boxing; others may train grapplers who combine Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling; perhaps the most popular clubs today are those that teach a combination of striking and grappling disciplines --true mixed martial arts.  

Naturally, you’ll want to match your desired area of study (Step #1) with a club that focuses on what you want to learn (Step #3).

4. Find out who is teaching you

Some MMA clubs talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk with accomplished and decorated instructors. If your goal is to one day fight professionally, you’ll need to learn the right way to fight and train with top-notch and battle-tested instructors that have been there.

To determine the talkers from the walkers, do your homework.  Whether it’s via a website or a bulletin board, most clubs happily provide information on all their trainers, listing their accomplishments (i.e. Olympic or World-Class Tournament Experience) or level of expertise (i.e. third-degree black belt in BJJ).

To be the best, you need to learn from the best. Knowing something about your potential instructors beforehand is a big help.  If they claim to have professional MMA fights under their belt, search them out on MMA databases such as, or see if they have their fights posted on YouTube.  Still have questions about their claims?  Make sure they’re members of a sanctioned governing body. Further, if they make impressive claims, ask their governing bodies for proof.  For example, the local amateur boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and other associations will happily confirm the validity of an instructors claims.

5. Learn about the facilities

Not all MMA gyms are created equally.  Some offer no obligation trial classes, others do not.  

Some provide large impersonal classes.  Others offer smaller classes with more one-on-one personal instruction.

Compare various clubs' facilities. One may offer different services and equipment than another – and that can affect how much you spend on your membership and training.  

Ideally, you’ll find a gym that suits your schedule and individual needs. All things being equal, it’s the level of instruction that should be considered first and foremost, not the complimentary towel service.

6. Safety First

MMA is a combat sport where the risk of injury does exist.  To minimize the risk, ensure that your teachers are part of a certified National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) and are trained in CPR.  Also, it would be wise to inform your instructor(s) should you have any conditions (i.e. Asthma).  As well, ensure that the facility does carry insurance.

About the Author:
Ray Litvak is a Judo instructor at Grant Brothers Boxing & MMA Club in Toronto, Ontario.  When not practising or teaching Judo, Ray writes informative articles about Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) trends, news and events.  You can e-mail him at or visit the company’s website at You are allowed to publish this article in its entirety provided that the author's name, bio and website links remain intact and are included with every reproduction.

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