FINANCIAL DISTRICT — They’re known for violent, bloody sparring matches, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest mixed martial arts organization in the world, is now tackling another no-holds-barred fight — New Yorker’s battle of the bulge.
The UFC is opening its first East Coast gym location at 80 John St. promising to run workouts for all levels — from stay-at-home moms, to fitness nuts, to big-time brawlers who can keep pace with MMA champs Tito Ortiz, Cain Velasquez, or Urijah Faber — under the careful guidance of trained fighters.
“We want to bring the health and fitness benefits of mixed martial arts to everyone — really cater to the entire family,” said Jason Losco, 29, an owner of the 6,500 square-foot gym who’s trained in MMA. “There’s something cool about those underground fighting gyms, but we’ve cleaned up that idea, and are focusing on fitness and technique, not the fights.”
The gym, which had its “soft opening” on April 6, is focused primarily on its group fitness classes. Trained MMA fighters, many of whom fight professionally, lead more than 50 classes a week in their own special blend of mixed martial arts for the masses, which can combine boxing, judo, wrestling, Jiu-Jitzu and kickboxing.
Trainers also lead more specialized technique classes in specific martial arts fighting styles, like Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu and Thailand’s Muay Thai, as well as regular kickboxing and boxing.
“We offer fun, challenging total body workouts that burn 800 to 1,000 calories an hour,” says Losco. “You can come here to train professionally to be an MMA fighter, or you can be a stay-at-home mom who just wants a great workout.”
The gym’s opening comes just as UFC seems to finally be going mainstream in New York, one of only two states that still bans professional mixed martial arts fighting.
The UFC has lobbied the state to abolish its ban for years, and in March Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wasn’t opposed to professional MMA and wanted to learn more about how the sport could help New York economically.
And while the subject is currently being discussed by legislators, there is no debate among Losco and his fellow owners of the UFC gym.
"I think we're helping to show that MMA can be accessible to everyone," said Losco, who plans on opening five more gyms in New York over the next several years.
However, like most excerise trends in New York, it's not exactly cheap. Membership will cost between $124 to $149 a month, including unlimited classes and use of the gym's full cardio and weight equipment, as well as soon-to-be open saunas.