MMA is still a developing sport and is growing in popularity each year. Mixed Martial Arts are already part of American culture, and the practice of the sport is widespread, unlike in most other countries.
So if you want to start your own MMA gym, you must realize what kind of audience you are working with and consider some tips to make it as profitable as possible.
Let’s talk about the essential things you should consider about how to start your own MMA gym.
Table of Contents
- How To Start Your Own MMA Gym Step By Step
- The Most Basic Things You Should Consider If You Want To Start An MMA Gym
- How Do You Market Your Mixed Martial Arts Gym?
- How Profitable Is An MMA Gym?
- Why Do MMA Gyms Fail?
- How Can I Increase My MMA Gym Salary?
- Is It Hard To Start your Own MMA Gym / Is Opening A Gym a Good Investment?
How To Start Your Own MMA Gym Step By Step
If you’re ready to start your MMA gym, here’s a list of steps to make the dream happen.
Find Coaches For Each Combat Sport
Firstly, it is going to be challenging to hire the best coaches.
Use your connections; if you are interested in opening your own MMA gym, you might know old coaches, talented young fighters who need pocket money, or others willing to help you initially.
Schedule every day. Hire Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, and striking coaches, and try to mix it on the sparring days.
Not every technique from Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, or striking works in MMA, so mixing all this at the latest two times per week is essential.
Choose Location Carefully
Having a good location is as crucial in MMA as in other things. First of all, safety is the priority. It depends on what kind of region you want to make an MMA gym.
However, you will still have a budget limit, better locations cost more, and not everyone can afford it, so try to find the area where it will be easier to find and go with public transport.
While renting or buying a place for your MMA gym, think about what kind of gym you want. Do you want to have an office inside or not? How many bathrooms do you need? Of course, more bathrooms are an advantage, but also harder to take care of.
You Will Need Some Equipment
We don’t think having many fighters’ gear is a good idea.
MMA fighters should have gloves, protectors, headgear, and shin guards, whether professionals or amateurs.
This is not a matter of comfort but hygiene. It can also save you some initial investing money.
You can’t wash them every day, but wearing someone else’s headgear is not a great long-term idea. So unlike other “fancy” gyms, you can save that money and put it elsewhere.
You will still need to purchase things like:
- Punching bags
- Inventors from fitness gyms for physical exercise.
- Boxing/Kickboxing pads
You can put that extra money into getting quality gear that matters for your gym. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and save money by having affordable and beautiful training gear, like tires such as punching bags, wheels, heavy hammers, Swedish Wall, etc.
No matter what – don’t go cheap on bathrooms.
You might not have the best locker room, but having clean showers and bathrooms are things most people value, and smaller MMA gyms often neglect.
New students won’t train in your gym if they cannot have a good clean shower after training.
Like other businesses, you must go through official confirmation steps to legally start your own MMA gym.
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Get your legal structure in order
Employ Identification Number (EIN)
In the USA, the state government charges the opening gym, but gyms must pay taxes to the federal government, which means they have to have EIN.
It is not as complicated as it sounds. All you have to do is sign the form online, which will automatically give your EIN code.
Your business needs the license to start your own MMA gym legally. Different states have different requirements for specific licenses to own a gym.
You must check information via the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits Resource.
Federal, State, And Local Taxes
Every business pays taxes, and everyone should expect to register for federal taxes with an EIN. The tax system depends on the location since there are different rules for different states.
Register Name Of The Business
Your business needs an official name to start running it legally. Sometimes if the official name of the gym is the same as the owners, registering might not be necessary, but in the USA, there are different rules in different states, so you need to specify what kind of rules are in your state.
Depending on the state, registering the business in the USA costs between $600 and $1,400.
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The Most Basic Things You Should Consider If You Want To Start An MMA Gym
Not all great fighters are great coaches, and not every great coach is a great fighter.
It does not matter whether you are in the USA or not. There are some things you should do and others that you need to avoid at all costs if you want to run a successful MMA gym business.
Improve Skills And Knowledge In MMA As A Gym Owner
If you are interested in starting your own MMA gym, you will most likely have some experience on the mats.
Still, having more theoretical knowledge will be relevant because fighters, especially beginners, will ask lots of questions. And you have to give them the correct direction, which requires a deep understanding of this sport.
There are a few things you can do to improve your knowledge.
Attend Different Martial Arts Seminars
It is not necessary to train as hard as fighters do because you will not participate in MMA competitions.
However, practicing MMA is always a good idea for the coach. It is easier to communicate with students when you experience the same technical problems while doing some movements, and explaining some things after testing them with yourself is more accessible.
Also, you might discover some new techniques or keys that will make you grow as a coach.
Watch Paid Videos Of Famous And Lesser Known Fighters
Watching different paid videos of fighters like Henry Cejudo or Ryan Gordon is a great idea. You will discover lots of great stuff and learn to share the knowledge with others by watching the same technique as often as you want.
It is also a good idea to check lesser-known fighters with impressive records. Everybody will check the big names for inspiration. You can differentiate yourself by learning from unknown killers and adding your twist to their teachings.
Simply put, find inspiration everywhere you can to grow your coaching skills.
Watch UFC/Bellator Events And Fight Previews
Watching at least UFC fights is a great idea. The best fighters are in the UFC, and the best are testing great strategies and techniques against each other. Watching lots of stylistic fights and strategies will give you lots of knowledge.
Watching fight reviews of great analysts will help you understand the fights’ strategies deeply.
Watching fights, and analyzing them, is like everyday homework for the head coach. Watching some great battles and thinking more about the strategies will not be hard if you love it. In a word, you should learn new things every day because MMA is still developing.
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How Do You Market Your Mixed Martial Arts Gym?
There are different ways to advertise your newly opened gym. Let’s start with the cheapest and must-do thing if you start your own MMA gym.
Ask Your Friends To Join You
You might know some great fighters who are well known in your area. Inviting them will create an incentive for less experienced fighters to come.
Also, they will post a picture or story on social media, which will be a great promotion for your target audience. And this is an excellent beginning to your promotional efforts.
Ask your former teammates and friends to come and join you.
It is not a fitness gym where people hate being in the line, this is an MMA gym, and people love crowded MMA gyms. For some people, social proof of quality and popularity.
If they see many people inside your gym (through pictures or live), they will be more interested in you.
They will post more pictures and stories, which will be another great way to promote your gym, not to a targeted audience but to a broader one.
Optimize Social Media
Optimizing your social media is not cheap. However, there is not some minimum or maximum limit you can spend on it.
Still, it requires a social media manager who knows how to use “Ads Manager” to optimize the audience for your content and budget needs.
The more you pay, the more people will see your posts. The budget is up to you; use as much money as you can afford, but take notice that a lower budget needs a more optimized strategy to be effective.
When starting an MMA business, one of the most important things you have to focus on is social media marketing.
It’s the easiest way to be available for everyone interested in sports. The probability of getting more clients increases, and your gym becomes more famous for people as well.
To do that, you’ll need to hire a group of people that are on an expert level in:
- Advertising on the social media page
- Creating relevant content on it
- Audience research
You can do this yourself, but the time it will take you to master those skills is better spent teaching classes or raising more capital.
If you have a natural talent for it, you don’t need experts but there’s a trade with other activities you need as an MMA gym owner.
Your primary purpose is to find the specific group of consumers most likely to want your product or service, so you’ll have to choose the right team with the appropriate experience and vision.
So let’s say you have already got the marketing team.
Now, first of all, you need to introduce yourself to a new audience, which is so cold. They have no idea what your gym is all about, and you must convince them they will get what they want.
People might want to be future UFC fighters, learn self-defense, relax after work, or just wants to be in shape.
Things you need to do when advertising on social media:
- Create a content / relevant photo&video ad
- Audience research
- Set up high-performing ad campaigns
- Manage / Optimize of campaigns
- Retarget narrow & warm audience
Add Different Classes In Your Gym And Make Your Schedule Public
Having a well-organized schedule already leaves a good impression on the client because they feel you know what you are doing.
Start a Women’s Self-Defense Class
Jiu-Jitsu is arguably one of the best martial arts for women because there are fewer injuries and no punches. The main idea behind this martial art is for smaller people to manage and defeat bigger and stronger opponents.
You can also try boxing and other classes for women,
Create Different Packages
People love when they have options. Creating different packages will attract more customers because, in this way, you give them other alternatives and freedom of choice.
Salespeople say, when there is only one product, customers think either buy it or not, but when there are 2, they think about which one to buy.
Create a Website for your MMA gym
Having a website is one of the most crucial things in modern business. When people are interested in training MMA, they will search it on Google. A simple website version, even with 1-2 pages, but SEO optimized, will benefit you.
If someone searches, for example, “MMA gym in Florida,” your gym should be in the top position. There are no guarantees, but it will help.
They’ll have an opportunity to instantly visit the checkout page on the website and purchase instead of talking a lot with the sales manager on Facebook, for instance. And you obviously will be able to have more info about their behaviors on the internet than before.
You can always use the free website you can create when you join Google my business. It won’t be anything fancy, but probably better than 90% of what most gym owners are doing.
Here’s a nice tutorial on how to do it:
In modern business, it is impossible to ignore having a solid online presence, which means that it is recommended to leverage your social media.
Brand yourself, take pictures in the gym with different famous fighters—Post old pictures of you training or fighting.
Take high-quality pictures and videos to be active on social media.
Don’t forget to follow up with modern tendencies. Instagram reels, Tik Tok tendencies, and whatever will work by your time because these tendencies change monthly.
- Upload stories, start lives from the gym, and show people some fun exercises from your gym.
- Mention all the famous names you have ever trained with.
- Never state political or religious statements; be positive and helpful to others on social media.
How Profitable Is An MMA Gym?
It can be profitable if you plan every aspect of it well, and income will increase eventually because the most challenging thing is to take the first step since there are lots of initial costs.
How Much Does It Cost To Start Own MMA Gym?
It depends on where you are. The highest fixed cost will be your location. Rent or buy it. It does not matter. Also, another one-time cost will be things like mats and punching bags.
When people share their experiences of starting an MMA gym, they say the cheapest way will cost at least $15,000.
You should pay for utilities, and Internet, which can be easily $600 or more, but this $15,000 as an early investment can easily be double the amount based on the location.
While starting your own MMA gym, realize you need cash flow for the next six months. The first steps are the hardest.
There are lots of costs at the beginning, and low income, because you are new on the market. This negative balance will change, so your expenses will not be high for several months, and your income should increase.
How Much Does MMA Gym Owners Make?
Unlimited attendance to Striking/Grappling Classes
According to the different sources, top-tier gyms make between $100,000 and $200,000 per year. However, in the first year, you can expect around $50,000, which can be enough to cover all your initial costs and start having profit the following year.
Why Do MMA Gyms Fail?
Because of not having a solid business plan in advance and not having a strategy, knowing Martial Arts does not mean automatically having a successful gym.
This is business; you need to sell the service, like any other company, requiring sales, marketing, management, and customer service skills. Most gyms fail because they lack long-term financial plans, do not have cash reserves, and have the wrong marketing strategies.
People often underestimate the power of the Internet and social media and are not part of this group.
Another common mistake is going all in too soon. New MMA gym owners buy the best gym equipment, hire the best coaches, and rent a space in a premium location. All that without validating the business concept will set you up for failure.
What Percentage Of Gyms Fail?
According to the IHRSA, around 81% of the gyms are failing. However, this is not the statistics of MMA gyms because it is not calculated, but still, we’re talking about similar industries, and it is a good approximation.
How Can I Increase My MMA Gym Salary?
Make the official schedule public. Maybe not only MMA fighters will come to your gym, but Jitsers will attend your Jiu-Jitsu classes, Kickboxers will come only on Kickboxing days, and so on. Day after day, grapplers might wish to start Kickboxing, too, which will create an additional salary.
Having private classes service is one of the most excellent methods. Often, most beginners are shy to ask some questions in public, and affordable private classes are great for them.
Don’t focus only on MMA Fighters. Most of your net salary as an MMA gym owner might come from casual customers. Make an attractive and comfortable place for them.
Also, having a fitness bar is a great idea for additional income. People love having healthy protein bars or other supplements after training so you can offer them this service, too.
Having a cafe with some healthy food can be beneficial, but you need more research on the food business, and it might complicate permits and licenses in certain states.
Is It Hard To Start your Own MMA Gym / Is Opening A Gym a Good Investment?
Just like in any field, the hardest part is to start. The first steps can be very challenging, but if you have a good strategy and a love of this sport, you can handle it.
Is it worthy? It can be an excellent investment if you have a great understanding of this sport and have good marketing plans, but the added value of this business should be your satisfaction level.
If you love what you are doing and do it passionately, this business will grow, too, and income will increase.
If you liked this article and helped you on your journey to becoming an MMA gym owner don’t forget to comment and share.
Until the next one.