Most Successful Gyms???

I've been in my own business for over 25 years. It is in Durable Medical Equipment so it is not related to the Martial Arts.

As a business person, I am curious to know about the most successful MMA/GYM operations from a commercial standpoint. Where are they and what makes them work? Is it big name fighters, location, facilities, instructors? What is the best thing about their operation? Where do they get most of their income?

Please leave out the McDojos and Belt factories. I want to know about places that offer real MMA and related programs.


New Location so I cant vouch for success today , but .

Lake Forest , CA .





Gracie schools seem to do OK. The ATT phenomenon is ablaze as well, locations everywhere.
If you are talking about opening a gym and making serious money from it, you might want to stick to medical equipment though.

I don't plan on changing businesses. I just like to study the different factors in different types of operations.

Most businesses can set every regular operating cost as a percent of gross revenue. It is different in every industry. An average shoe store for instance cannot pay over 5% of it's gross for rent or less than 3% for advertising or over 20% for labor and prosper.

Furniture stores have totally different factors. Far more markup and ad budget as well as bigger ticket items. Each type of business has different margins and different markups which determine gross profit before expenses. I don't even want to discuss automobile dealerships.

I know this is dull to most people. I was just curious about the MMA business factors. I am also curious about Health/FItness clubs which seem to be booming in comparison.

I have not seen anyone discuss these financial factors in terms of running mma or other fight gyms. I have heard this for other more commercial chains of martial arts schools but I don't actually know those numbers off the top of my head. I do know some numbers for fitness centers though.

TSK has business down the best I have seen.

alotta schools in a small area

Athens is a college town so there are plenty of customers. Plus the HCG has produced 2 UFC fighters and some of the best fighters in the state.

Nice logos. Thanks for the replys. I'm going to research some name companies and try to set up an industry profile. Some chains are publically held and the info is available. I have found that even private companies are not too difficult to get help from if their names are not used.

If I find useful statistics, I'll post them on the forum.

Lloyd Irvin seems to be a good businessman, without knowing too much about him (and not really liking his business') i'd say his school is most propably very successful (and talented).

Gaittec has a very good point. The problem with most academies is that they don't have the business acumen and experience to run a successful academy. Having a love for the sport is not nearly enough.

Over the years I've trained at: Ralph Gracie Academy
,Renzo Gracie Academy, Carlson Gracie Academy, Gracie Barra (Barra Tijuca), Gracie Barra Chicago, Roberto Maia Boston Brazilian Jiujitsu Academy,New Breed Academy (Evanston, IL), Sityodtong Muay Thai, Evanston Boxing Club, American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, Ca)
Penisula Kickboxing (San Ramon, Ca??, and Gleason's (Brooklyn).

Each of these places has had relative degrees of success. Some of the best practices I've noticed include:
(1) Charasmatic leader and professional staff
(2) Academy feels more a like a home than a business, but the other can be true as well. But always cater to the the clientele.
(3) The use of contracts and direct deductions to keep students committed
(4) Seperate classes for beginners and advanced students
(5) Setting expectations for students. Let them know where they stand. For example, how long does it take to get promoted? Limits frustration.
(6) Handle problem students immedicately.
(7) Get feedback from students. What do they want to learn? Always ask them if they have questions?
(8) Don't forget about the kids and parents. Most schools target young males but kids and parents are a huge untapped market.

Like Kirik said, Tiger Schulman's Karate has had amazing success in growing their business. Also, West Coast Karate does monster business. You may not agree with their style but, from a business perspective, they have a lot to offer.

What are other best practices???

I have heard that a gym in Tennessee, run by a brown belt, is the biggest MMA gym in the country. He also owns Gameness.

TSK is probably the most successful martial arts business model that exists. They are literally an empire. They have their own real estate team! Veyr professional, very impressive...

ON a side note though, they are no longer "Tiger Shulman Karate", they are "TSK Mixed Martial Arts"... and to give you an idication of how important TSK is to the MA business industry, that change resulted in a multiple page article in one of the trade papers

Tiger Schulmann is a martial artist first. He conducts his business like his training. He was told that it was impossible to teach martial arts for a living. That was his motivation in the begining. To make enough money to take care of his family doing what he loved to do, teaching and training. He still wants the same thing. His school and his curriculim is the best of what martial arts has to offer. From the realistic mix of karate, kickboxing, and grappling to the disciplined enviorment his classes are held in. They work very hard at both aspects of running a succsesful school. They train their instructors and their fighters as well as their opoerators and managers.
Growth of the art and sport and all of benifits that go along with proper training is the next step for Tiger Schulmann's.
It can be a great opportunity for many young martial artists that are looking to do their hobby and get paid for it.

As far as business success, I would guess that Team Lloyd Irvin does very well.

Pedro Sauer would be up there as well. He has a huge association.