Back to Blog

How to Start an MMA Gym in 2021


Over the past decade, the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) has skyrocketed. MMA is the world’s third most popular sport behind soccer and basketball. It’s now one of the fastest-growing sports around the world through events from the likes of One Championship and, of course, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

Thanks to its place in mainstream media, Mixed Martial Arts has a huge fan base that’s growing every day. As a result, more and more people are looking to learn the sport. The increased interest presents a huge opportunity to get involved and open up your own MMA gym. For the right person, an MMA gym could be a lucrative business. Naturally, it takes a lot of hard work to start a martial arts school, but with the right steps, you can achieve your goals. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about starting a mixed martial arts gym in 2021. Skip ahead to:

Why Is Mixed Martial Arts so Popular Right Now? 

MMA is frequently referred to as the fastest-growing sport in the world. Unlike traditional examples of the arts such as muay Thai, MMA combines several different fighting techniques and skill levels, including wrestling, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), and boxing. Modern MMA became incredibly well known through an American TV contest, the UFC, in 1993. 

Practicing mixed martial arts is a great way to stay fit, and with increasing TV coverage, there continues to be a rise in interest. It used to be much harder to find gyms specializing in MMA. Things like taekwondo and martial arts classes were more accessible and easier to find. But, the MMA gym landscape has changed significantly with many gyms combining traditional martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing, to train MMA fighters. 

Stars like Conor Mcgregor and Floyd Mayweather command a huge online following on social media. Fighters are regularly posting updates and generating a ton of publicity, especially leading up to an upcoming fight. Large online audiences help to attract students looking to learn something new and exciting. The martial arts business is on the rise. If you’re considering opening your own MMA gym, here are some martial arts business statistics that you need to know.  

The Top MMA Gyms Around the World 

MMA is a global sport with gyms all over the world. World-class gyms have allowed fighters to become world-class champions and encourage growth in the industry even more. Here are four of the top MMA gyms from around the world. 

Jackson’s MMA, New Mexico 

Greg Jackson’s MMA gym started teaching in 1992. Located in Albuquerque in New Mexico, the gym has produced nine world champions and trains some of the greatest fighters in the world. The gym focuses on every part of MMA, including grappling, BJJ, kickboxing, wrestling, submission fighting, and conditioning. 

American Top Team, Florida

The American Top Team gym was established in 2001 and is located in Coconut Creek in Florida. The gym specialized in BJJ, self-defense, and fitness. The American Top Team has produced current and former champions, including Brian Bowles and Thiago Silva. 

The Alliance Training Center, California 

The Alliance Training Center is now one of the best training facilities on the West Coast. The center specializes in BJJ, wrestling, power fitness, and kickboxing. The center has produced several big names in the fighting world. 

Nova Uniao Academy, Rio De Janeiro 

One of the best MMA gyms in South America is Nova Uniao in Brazil. The academy is regarded as one of the top places for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The academy has long-been known for pumping out fighting champions. The gym is recognized all over the world for both jiu-jitsu and MMA and has over 400 different affiliate gyms in 40 different countries.   

How to Start an MMA Gym 

Unlike other sports, many fans who watch MMA want to do more than just observe it; they want to get involved. This has created a massive opportunity for fitness entrepreneurs to capitalize on the interest in MMA and open your own gym. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to start an MMA gym in 2021. 

Start Running Local MMA Classes 

Start by running local MMA classes in your neighborhood. Try hosting classes in community areas to start building an audience. By running local MMA classes, you can begin to raise brand awareness without investing a ton of capital into brand new equipment and leasing a location. For most fitness entrepreneurs, this is a low-risk approach to begin your business. This will give you the chance to build up your student base while looking for the best location. 

Local schools, recreation centers, and YMCA are also good options for class locations. Running local classes will also give you the chance to experiment with class sizes and teaching style. This is an excellent opportunity to experiment without the pressure of paying your monthly rental costs. Some gyms will also allow you to host classes inside their premises for a percentage of revenue. Through hosting local MMA classes, you can bring in new members and slowly build up your clientele in a relatively low-risk way. 

Build Up Your Skills 

If you’re thinking of opening your own martial arts gym, you should know some MMA. If you’ve no prior martial arts training experience, start training so that you can build up your knowledge of MMA basics. It’s a win-win situation because MMA offers a great workout. When it comes to recruiting new members or students, give them a reason to join your gym. 

Compete in competitions, the more accolades you have, the better. To brand yourself as a legitimate MMA gym owner, you need to have authority in the space. Whether you bring in competitive fighters as instructors or teach yourself, is down to you. 

The 6 Crucial Steps to
Opening a Gym or

Discover more

Choose the Right Location 

You’re now in the position where you’ve been running local classes in your area. You’ve built up a membership base of students who love your teaching style and your coaches and never miss a class. You’re now ready to take it up a step and lease your own place. Choosing the right location for your business is essential to its success. 

When you’re choosing a location, there are a few things you should consider. First off, let’s talk about visibility. You want your MMA gym to be visible from the street. This presents an excellent opportunity to raise brand awareness and bring in new students and foot traffic. If many of your students drive to your classes, think about parking arrangements. Unless you’re in a major metropolitan area where people tend not to drive much, you will need to provide parking. Your rent will depend on your location and your budget. Keeping control of your expenses is an essential part of running a successful martial arts business. 

Equip Your MMA Gym 

Depending on your financial position, you can choose to ask new students to bring their own MMA gear while you’re hosting local classes. This gives you a chance to equip your gym over time slowly. By the time you start leasing a new business premise, you might already have a collection of gear. Investing in equipment can be a significant upfront cost; however, it’s essential for teaching and attracting new students. 

How much equipment you buy will depend on class size. If you choose to run smaller classes, more frequently, then you won’t need as much equipment as if you were running a large class. There is an option to buy cheaper equipment; however, you will likely spend more money replacing it in the not so distant future. Invest in proper quality MMA equipment that lasts, and your members will love. Some essential MMA equipment includes:

  • Mats
  • Heavy bags 
  • Grappling dummies
  • Boxing gloves
  • Shin guards
  • Target shields 
  • Headgear

Launch Your Website 

No matter the size of your business, a website is integral. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly too. 57% of all mobile users wouldn’t recommend a business if the site were weak and unresponsive on mobile. Your website forms an integral part of your marketing strategy. Any business needs to have a website and online presence. Your website helps you to establish your brand identity, credibility, and authority in the MMA space. A website is often the first place new students will look to for any questions they have about your business. 

Creating an effective and user-friendly website for your business that stands out from the competition is fierce. First impressions are everything, so think about the design, clear CTAs, and landing pages that convert. To help get you started, we’ve pulled together 18 effective gym website ideas to inspire you

Market Your New Business 

Advertising and marketing your new business is an ongoing task. As students come and go, you’ll need to attract new students into your gym actively. Marketing is essential for the growth and success of your business. There are several things you can do to market your new business. Depending on your budget and resources, your marketing strategy will look different. Here are some ideas to market your new business:

  • Social media 
  • Content marketing 
  • Ask for online reviews 
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Stories 
  • Leverage fitness influencers

To help you create a killer marketing strategy for your new MMA gym, we’ve pulled together a marketing guide for the modern fitness founder. We discuss proven marketing strategies, how to grow an online following, and some unique and creative ideas to market your business. 

Membership Software 

When setting up your gym, you can rely on a spreadsheet and pen and paper to keep track of your members. However, the right membership software can take the pressure off. Managing membership and billing can be a huge task and a big headache. Instead, use membership management software to automate your billing processes. Look for software that allows members to book classes with you and manage their own membership. 


The majority of fitness businesses need insurance. Considering MMA is a full-contact sport, injuries may be common, and you need to cover yourself. Make sure to include general liability coverage as well as accidental medical coverage to protect yourself if students get injured. Other types of insurance to think about include commercial property policy, worker’s compensation policy, and commercial umbrella policy. 

Due to the high risk of injury involved in MMA, insurance is essential. The cost of insurance will differ depending on how comprehensive your cover is. When shopping around for insurance, it’s a good idea to consider the following points:

  • What types of liabilities are covered?
  • What gym space is actually covered by insurance? 
  • Are there any special requirements for payouts?
  • Does your insurance coverage meet your lease requirements?

MMA Gym Opening Launch Event 

After long hours and hard work, it’s time to put on a grand opening for your new MMA gym. A launch event is an excellent opportunity to create more buzz around your business and boost brand awareness. It also gives you the chance to connect with new members of the local community. 

Promote your event on social media and in the local media to raise awareness. Show off your services and what you have to offer. Hold classes throughout the day that show potential members what you’re about and what you have to offer. Provide healthy snacks to refuel your guests and remember to stream your event live through Instagram or Facebook Live. 

In Summary 

When it comes to how to start an MMA gym, it’s a combination of building up your client base, choosing the right location, and marketing your new business. With more people searching for MMA classes every year, extreme styles of fitness are in demand. In one of the fastest-growing sports, MMA presents a huge opportunity to enter the fitness industry and make a profit, if you’re willing to put in the hard work. 

We empower you to boost your business

"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

Trusted by studios, and global gym chains.

  • flydown-9round
  • flydown-f45
  • flydown-snap-fitness
  • flydown-BMF
  • row-house
  • flydown-spartans