It may seem obvious where to look for a MMA Gym or something close to it, but that’s not always the case. Depending on where you live the options aren’t always plentiful.

So we’ll start with what you should be looking for and then where to look for it, from the most obvious location to the most overlooked.

You Want a MMA Gym But You Don’t NEED One

The first gym I found and attended was a boxing gym because that’s what I was actually looking for.

But they also taught muay thai, and believe it or not, fencing.

Many gyms, schools, clubs, whatever they want to call them, serve dual purposes to cater to more than one consumer (you and me).

So ideally you’re looking for a MMA gym, but lots of other facilities are going to offer MMA training although it might not be their specialty.

Here’s a list of what type of place you should be looking for:

1. MMA Gym
2. BJJ School
3. Muay Thai Gym
4. Boxing or Kickboxing Gym
5. Grappling or Submission Wrestling Club
6. Judo, Sambo, or Krav Maga School
7. Self Defense Classes
8. Various Martial Arts Schools (karate, aikido, taekwondo, etc.)

This list gets pretty thin and ridiculous close to the bottom because we’re straying farther and farther away from the effective styles you should be training.

But like I said before, depending on where you live you may not have very many options and you’ll have to make do with what you got.

If that’s the case, then you’re looking more for a place to use and equipment to train on than a location that provides proper instruction.

I’d also like to add that just because a gym has MMA stamped on it’s door doesn’t mean they know how to teach the sport worth a damn.

You may very well find better instruction at a BJJ school, or one of the others I mentioned.

Finding the Right gym, and the Right instructor for you is a whole separate issue.

For now I’ll just tell you how to find them.

The Yellow Pages

I know you’re saying, “Holy Shit…thanks for the earth shattering insight there Jonathan.”

So yes, this is Captain Obvious’ first place you should start in your search—the phone book.

They should be categorized under ”martial arts” or ”gyms”. If not, then try any combination of the terms I listed above.

Hopefully you live in an area where there are numerous options closer to the top of the list. From there it’s just a matter of finding the right one (I’ll go into that in another post).

If you don’t, and the options are closer to the bottom of the list then you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Moving on to the next place…

Google it

Earth shattering tip # 2.

This is probably the easiest way, but I suggested the phone book first for two reasons:

  • A yellow page ad costs money. That means they’re likely (not always) to have a clientele. Which also means they’re somewhat established. And a somewhat established gym is always going to have a listing in the phone book.
  • A somewhat or well established gym may not always have a presence online and if they do it won’t always be easy to find. I know this is the internet age and every business is supposed to have a website or something online, but trust me it still happens all the time.

So what keywords should you type in your seach?

One by one, use all the terms in the ”what you should be looking for list” above.

Starting at the top and working your way down attaching the city you live in at the end of every one.

Example: MMA Gyms Hickory, NC

This is by far my favorite way to find a gym, or anything for that matter.

You get to analyze what they’re about without the hassle of actually going by.

Sometimes they’ll offer sample videos, articles, and an about them page with bios so you can get a feel for their instruction.


Online MMA Gym Directories and Forums

Often times when you use google to find a gym—a few of the search results will return listings in online directories and forums.

Despite the fact that my 2nd and 3rd suggested places to look will coincide—you should make it a point to be thorough, because you won’t always find the same gym in both locations.

Some construct websites, and others are just fine with directory listings and forum posts. Some will do both (if they’re smart).

My favorite directory is Will Li is a friend and they’ve gone out of their way to create the best resource possible.

Whenever I get emails from my readers wanting some help finding a MMA gym I usually send them a link from that directory.

There are a couple others of note like and that could help as well.

As for the forums—you should stick to the main two and even has a forum for each state.

Hop on there and ask around. Most people will be genuinely helpful.

Various Martial Arts Schools

If you’ve made it all the way down here without finding anything resembling a MMA gym then you’re in trouble, but don’t lose hope just yet.

A judo or sambo school would be a good find, but there aren’t a pleathera of them around.

So we’re relegated to choosing from the traditional martial arts schools that are more prevalent from city to city (I’m sure you found a couple of these during your search—aikido, tae kwon do, karate, etc).

Luckily, a lot of these schools will offer MMA classes because of it’s rise in popularity so be sure to give them a call before dismissing them.

4 Places You Might Not Have Looked

We’ve exhausted all our usual suspects so now it’s time to think outside the box:

1. Local fitness gyms or rec centers are places where martial arts enthusiasts typically gather. Try asking around to see who’s interested and maybe get something going. The gym may even offer classes…you never know!

2. Chances are if there is a local fight promotion—then there will be a gym near by. If you have an event in the area…Go!

3. High school wrestling. I don’t think you could find a concentrated group of people more interested in fighting. Train with them if you can.

4. College Campuses and Universities. If you have one in your town, then you’re in luck cus they almost always have some type of grappling or fight club.

What if you can’t find anything?

Well, that sucks, but all is not lost my friend. You can do a lot on your own and with the help of a training partner.

Those posts are coming soon…