Although there are still many unique schools for the martial arts, many students can find classes in their regular gyms. Some nationwide gym chains offer diverse classes and training to attract a larger customer base, and it isn’t too difficult to find a nationwide chain with some regular martial arts classes. Many students still prefer to take classes at a traditional martial arts school, but taking classes at a gym can be a more realistic, affordable option, provided there is a nearby location.
Advantages of National Gym Chains
Advantages of taking martial arts classes at a nationwide gym include ease of access and other conveniences. Since there are chains designed to cater to many different budgets, affordability and the number of available classes range widely between providers. Still, nationwide gyms have some benefits in common.
- Well organized
- Often (but not always) cheaper
- Multiple locations
- Martial arts students can develop key muscle groups and work on further training without going to a separate location
Disadvantages of Nationwide Gyms
Taking martial arts classes at a gym simply doesn’t suit all students. Whether they are looking for a more traditional experience, or they would rather pay for more training and less equipment, some students prefer to keep their weights machines and their dojo separate. There are some disadvantages, however, that any potential student should consider before joining a gym for their martial arts classes.
- Sometimes (but not always) impersonal
- Usually large class sizes
- Lack of individual training
- Classes for advanced levels may not be available
- Martial arts classes may cost an extra fee on top of regular gym dues
We’ve compiled a list of the best nationwide chains that offer martial arts classes.
National Gym Chains with Martial Arts Classes
24 Hour Fitness Review
Equipment and Amenities
This gym is the most popular and widespread chain of any on our list. It should be easy to find a location near you, and their rates will be lower than either Equinox or UFC Gym. 24 Hour Fitness is a traditional fitness gym with lots of equipment, such as treadmills, free weights, weight machines, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and more.
24 Hour Fitness offers a wide range of classes, but not all locations offer those classes. Potential martial arts students who live in major cities are more likely to find martial art classes, but even then, there’s no guarantee your location will have the specific discipline you’re looking for. The most popular class is usually kick boxing, because it is such a high energy discipline that lends itself well to aerobic courses. Some aerobic courses incorporate martial arts elements, though these will not provide traditional training. They aim to burn fat and build muscle mass rather than teach techniques. Some locations offer Tai Chi, which is meditative rather than combat-oriented. Such a class may form a stepping stone to a traditional martial arts class, however.
Equipment and Amenities
One of the most luxurious gyms in the nation Equinox is the most expensive gym on this list. It’s only found in major cities, where the gym’s preferred clientele live. Equipment ranges from traditional machines, such as treadmills and stationary bikes, to full sizes pools. This gym has top of the line facilities and amenities designed to make fitness feel like a spa day, if you want it to.
If you can dream of a class, Equinox has it. They hire professional martial arts fighters and expert trainers to design their courses and lead their classes. They really do try to pack market value into their gym, and their martial arts options are no exception.
UFC Gym Review
Equipment and Amenities
This gym is unlike any other on our list. Although it is, technically, a traditional gym, it is designed specifically for martial arts training. The UFC Gym uses it’s UFC branding to draw a specific demographic of fitness enthusiasts, and all of its equipment and amenities fall in line with that goal. In the UFC Gym, you can find traditional equipment, such as treadmills, free weights, stationary bikes, and ellipticals. Although they welcome all ages and fitness levels, the UFC Gym takes a very professional approach to fitness. There are plenty of coaches available to help with everything from form to nutrition. If you want to become a professional UFC athlete, this gym has all the tools you need. It’s also a fitness center, however, that helps everyone meet their unique goals.
Classes are available for all ages and training levels. The gym touts its children’s classes, and it takes its adult training courses very seriously. Mixed martial arts and Jiu Jitsu classes are available along with other, more fitness-driven courses. Personal trainers are available, too, if you want to build your skills at a faster pace or streamline your technique. The UFC Gym provides everything a potential UFC fighter would need to get started, but you don’t have to have a dream to fight in the ring to take advantage of their excellent classes.
If you’re looking for a gym that offers lots of advanced martial arts classes, and you can afford it, Equinox is probably your best option. On the other hand, if you’re primarily interested in martial arts and you would simply like a gym to be included in the price tag, then you should check out the UFC gym. 24 Hour Fitness is the easiest to find and the most affordable, but its classes are irregular. There’s no guarantee you will find what you’re looking for by buying one of their memberships.
Both Equinox and UFC Gym restrict branches to major cities. This makes financial sense, but it leaves a lot of potential students without viable options. More often than not, American students will need both a gym membership and time in a separate martial arts school. While martial arts gyms are very popular overseas, the two mutually beneficial practices have yet to entirely fuse in the States. Most martial arts training is offered by small schools, many of which are locally owned. Nationwide gym chains are popular and usually affordable, but they rarely provide the kind of martial arts classes dedicated students seek.