Why are there so many half-ass gym owners?

Obviously you have WAY more exp than me, but your geography also strongly dictated that experience. Out west living the seasonal bum life it was exceptionally rare to find any training at all, let alone good training (how the hell do you think I ended up doing fucking hapkido for a year, lol). Finding guys that wanted to spar in a basement and trade techniques was the holy grail for those of us not living in major urban areas.

I feel ya on this. We have moved around to a few gyms and then finally one of us started one. We were an MMA team together it didn’t matter what banner until there was issues. We were all bigger weights, friends and training partners. Once we figured out we didn’t pay bills…the owner focused on getting women’s programs, beginners programs and left the nighttime for us fighters. That’s how he survived and now thrives. The gym was full through the pandemic and is the raking in cash these days as the economy opens up here. Fighters don’t pay bills unless your gouging for representation.

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Good thread.

There is definitely a current market for a cobra-kai style program rn.

Just go to a competitive area where training has been largely watered down and poach all of the frustrated badasses from the mcdojo’s.

I think one of the guys above nailed it with the reply…fighters typically don’t pay the bills. There’s not enough of them, and when they start fighting they want to pay less bills, because they start to look at it like “every time I fight representing the gym is advertising your gym, so I shouldn’t have to pay you for it…wearing your logo on my shorts and banner should be enough.”

Either way, the basic premise of my response is that the people making a bunch of money are often doing kids classes, as well as classes for people who don’t want to “fight” per se. They want to train, but don’t want to get beat up. Those schools tend to be very organized, start classes on time and have a good class agenda…because the people showing up are paying good money to be “taught” and guided.

The schools that have “half-ass gym owners” as OP said, tend to be the ones where the gym owner isn’t really embracing the fact that he needs to cater to kids and people who aren’t tough, and don’t want the grimy gym experience. When I was training a ton, I HATED the classes that were like cardio kickboxing with a little grappling at the end. Just let me warm up with some pad work, maybe do some drilling then grapple or spar. I wasn’t excited about doing burpees or pushups, because I did that shit on my own. I went to the gym and did my weight training and traditional cardio on my own…my days at the MMA gym weren’t about that. So guys that are interested in showing up to the “fight team” stuff typically don’t really care about classes, they just want someone to grapple or spar with, and prefer open mats over classes.

So the gym owner has to decide…am I going to cater to fight team type guys, or people who have no interest in that? It’s really tough to have a polished gym that caters to both.


This is a HUGE part of the problem. I don’t like running kids classes and I don’t like running classes for the general public. I like running fight practices. When I agree to coach at a gym, that’s my condition. I run fight practices - nothing else.

It’s also why I have never quit my job to open a gym. I’m not passionate about the stuff that pays the bills. If I ever DO open a gym, it’ll be because I’m in a place financially where I can either 1) invest in a full-time instructor and business manager who run the place and focus on the things that pay the bill while I step back on focus on the fighters or 2) run it essentially out as a non-profit, only training fighters. Maybe out of a barn or some shit.

Wiggum you sound exactly like me lol. Wrestlers gonna be wrestlers…

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No doubt about it. I think the biggest reason is that for us, “coaching” has always involved training and working out. Most high level wrestling coaches who aren’t past a certain age participate in practice. Thus, coaching is also their workout for the day and you get the training benefit, not just the coaching benefit.

That’s in my bones at this point.

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Exactly and I am 47 yo and still train with my guys

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Lots of places start out as a non-profit type place for fighters to train. That’s how Jon Jones started. He was training at one of my friend’s “gyms” out by Ithaca NY, place called Bombsquad run by Ryan Ciotoli. He coached wrestling at Ithaca college at the time, and had one of those huge metal barns in his backyard, had some high end wrestling mats in there, a few bags…several of the guys that started there ended up having good MMA careers.

There’s obviously Jon, then guys like Tamdan McCrory, John Franchi, Anthony Leone…several others that had long runs in Bellator and/or a few UFC/WEC fights. I’m pretty sure he opened up a bigger place, but I haven’t talked to him in years.

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I’d rather have someone start off with love than a business model but you have to evolve to survive.

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Sounds like my favorite gym.
So goddam cold in winter that the mats are hard as a rock and most of us wore socks and took our chances for the first 20 minutes. So hot in the summer that there was a hose set up to deal with the puke just outside the door. If you wanted a new bag pads you passed the hat or just brought one you bought to the next session.
I miss those days more than words can ever say.

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I miss shen (;

The problem really in the last ten to twelve years is that MMA has become so mainstream and the desire to be a UFC fighter has drifted all the way down into high school. That means there is opportunity to make money. There is no problem with making money in my mind because that keeps a school open but the lack of knowledge is a problem. As I address in my book, people see a chance to ‘openn a gym’ and make money. Most people coaching are not ready to coach and only want to make money.

Alot of people don’t know the difference between quality and simply training like wild animals. Even bad coaches can improve far beyond their resources if they take advantage of two things-. The tools and information available to them and Structure. Breaking MMA down into thirds.Sometimes, people don’t want to change. fighters can also use my method and take over their own training and tell the gym owner to F off.

I know what I wrote works. My guys competed at a higher level than one would expect for what we had in terms of high level sparring partners, a black belt and all the trappings, say of an ATT. It’s no guarantee of UFC success but if you want to improve you have to aim at a target. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it and waste your time. Aim small, miss small. Focus in and see the results.

What type of coaches do you see for those who have been to alot of gyms? can you categorize what makes a half ass coach who sees dollars vs a passionate coach vs one who is able to work out. maybe not beat all of his fighters because the goal of a teacher is to make a student better than himself from the lessons he has learned.

This is what I finally put together in my book. A readable guidbook of a journey through the old school era of beat the shit out of each other to travelling and also hosting teachers from amongst the best and see what they do. Even if you have a gym in your garage, you can be so much more. For fighters all the way back to the guy walking in the door.

Bombsquad was an awesome team in Northeast. They produced some animals.

This is so legit

Yup and Jon also used to come in to the judo classes at Cornell U, this was back in like 2000, I went to the same classes.

I totally sympathize with people who do it for free. Like myself at various times. The disgusting thing is the ‘good’ guys moving up usually abandon those that got them to that level and as fighters, we are all selfish and screwed up in the head, totally forget where we came from and financially, you ocan forget it. you can’t get a word in for thanks much less a new set of thai pads.

Remember this gym ‘owners’- People don’t value things they don’t pay for. When we pay for it, we respect it more.’ to most of us this would seem the opposite but it isn’t especially with young men.

Lol look at the sport, it’s fans and the idiots on this forum, still don’t know?