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The Ultimate MMA Gym Equipment Checklist

By Tracey Heinz

MMA is more popular than ever. There’s no denying it. Captivating personalities like fighters Conor McGregor, Tito Ortiz, Demetrius Johnson, veteran commentator Joe Rogan and UFC president Dana White - all celebrities in their own right - have taken the world by storm.

In the United States alone in 2016, there were 1.2 million active MMA participants. They all need somewhere to train. Even if you don’t have the space or the inclination to provide full MMA training facilities, ignoring this demographic completely is risky business.

Stats show that 37% of active MMA participants are active in at least one other sport too, so there’s every chance a meaningful percentage of your current members - not to mention potential members - would welcome the chance to hone their MMA chops.

Here’s all you need to keep them happy:

MMA gym equipment - for strength and conditioning


Even if you don’t have space for a full MMA setup, you can still provide some key gym equipment to keep MMA enthusiasts happy. The equipment we recommend is ideal for any gym looking to optimise space.

  • Battle Ropes - Ideal for a complete upper body workout, delivering both aerobic and strength benefits. These can be coiled up when not in use to save space.
  • Free Weights - A small selection of barbells and dumbbells are essential for both strength and stamina.
  • Kettlebells - Arguably the ultimate in facilitating a full-body workout, kettlebells are small, portable and versatile.
  • Punch Bags - A couple of bags of differing weights hanging in your gym can transform your business from a fitness center to a fight club overnight.
  • Speedball - Help your members build stamina, accuracy and precision with a speed ball. You can mount these on a wall, so they’re not going to take up an awful lot of space.
  • Swiss Ball - An unlikely candidate in the list you might think, but swiss balls are ideal for grappling drills in the absence of a grappling dummy and may be used for a whole range of other exercises by non-MMA enthusiasts too.
  • Slam Man Dummy - Perfect for practicing strike accuracy and building power. These are relatively portable and a good model properly maintained can be quite durable.

MMA gym equipment - for competitive training and sparring

If you decide to go the whole hog and offer a full service MMA training facility, you’ll need a bit more focus. There are certain things your customers will expect to see if you advertise yourself as an MMA gym. Here are the essentials you’ll need, in addition to the above.

  • RDX_Kick_Pad.jpgMats - You absolutely must not skimp or improvise on mats. The force with which MMA participants hit the deck means you need a durable mat - with no less than 21kg/m³ density foam. It also needs to be non-slip, fire retardant and wipe-clean.
  • Grappling Dummy - There’s no getting around the fact that these can be quite pricey. Grappling dummies are specialist pieces of equipment designed to help people training for combat sports perfect their submissions and takes. They’re also heavy. But no MMA training centre is complete without a couple of these.
  • Training Pads - You’ll need a selection of target shields, belly pads, kick paddles, and hand targets to enable your members to work on their striking without causing each other injuries.

MMA accessories and extras

If you’re actively training people for competitive MMA, you may wish to consider providing some accessories and extras alongside the essentials listed above.

RDX_Shin_Protection_Pads.pngSome gyms will leave it up to their members to provide these, but it’s an option to consider if you want to differentiate from the competition, especially if you’re offering one-on-one training and classes.

  • Mouth guards 
  • Wrist and ankle tape
  • Shin guards
  • Head guards
  • Elbow and knee pads
  • Supplements and shakes 

Other considerations for providing MMA training at your gym

Providing the basic equipment is a good first step, but to establish your reputation as the go-to place for MMA training, consider the below as well:


The main consideration for any gym or health club owner is safety. This applies to everything, from how you layout your gym to how you counsel members on injury recovery and rehabilitation.

Three key safety considerations

  • Fire escapes - These need to be unobstructed at all times. No weights or bags near your fire escapes.
  • Cleanliness - Mats needs to be regularly scrubbed and disinfected. MMA can cause nicks and cuts, so rolling on dirty mats is a bigger health hazard than many realise.
  • Injuries - You need to trust your members to be responsible and most MMA gyms have a great sense of community where everyone looks out for each other, but don’t take this for granted. A good way of ensuring minimal injuries without being too preachy is to put up a few well-worded posters covering the behaviour and standards you expect from your members.


You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve with a relatively modest space, but physics will eventually impose its restrictions. Optimise space by focusing on portable training equipment that can be moved out of the way for sparring and rolling sessions, effectively doubling your available space.

To this end, if you’re forced to choose, consider space saving equipment such as kettlebells rather than barbells and swiss balls over heavy grappling dummies.


Walk into any MMA training gym and you’ll immediately notice a friendly, respectful atmosphere. But this should never be mistaken for a casual vibe. Your members are here to train, improve and - let’s be honest - inflict physical domination over one another. That calls for a controlled atmosphere where standards and boundaries are clear.

Make sure everyone understands this.

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Tags: Gyms & Clubs

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