MMA Champs Celebrate Gym’s Third Birthday

UFC Gym BJ Penn also has traditional workout equipment PHOTO BY JERRY A. GREGG

UFC Gym BJ Penn also has traditional workout equipment PHOTO BY JERRY A. GREGG

Popular Kakaako fitness center UFC Gym BJ Penn is turning three – and to celebrate, it’s opening to the public for an anniversary event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5, complete with appearances by BJ Penn himself, as well as other mixed martial arts stars.

According to UFC Gym BJ Penn marketing director Darlene Kaku, one of the things that sets the gym apart is that it enables you to “do all your training under one roof,” as the facility is comprised of traditional gym equipment in addition to equipment like heavy bag stand for MMA training including Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, boxing and wrestling. Kaku also notes that it’s a family-friendly venue, complete with childcare and youth fitness programs.

The Hawaii locations – there’s also one in Waikele – are among a growing number of UFC Gym franchisees throughout the country.

The UFC Gym franchise was launched in California in 2009, in a partnership between 24 Hour Fitness Center founder Mark Mastrov and UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.

“There’s no other party besides the UFC that you would work with to create an MMA-centric fitness brand,” says UFC Gym vice president of business development Mike Melby. “They are the NFL of mixed martial arts.”

The company as a whole has aggressive expansion goals to grow to 1,000 gyms in cities throughout the world by 2018 – including additional locations in Hawaii.

BJ Penn (left) and Mauricio Mariano PHOTO BY IAN SPANIER

BJ Penn (left) and Mauricio Mariano PHOTO BY IAN SPANIER

UFC Gym BJ Penn Honolulu’s anniversary celebration features classes and other events throughout the day, including cycle, dance, zumba and yoga classes. Plus, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champ Mauricio Mariano leads a seminar from 9 to 10:30 a.m. focusing on his signature “spider guard” move. Then, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., MMA hall-of-fame inductee Matt Hughes teaches a seminar focusing on the various techniques involved in the sport.

Hughes and Penn also will be in attendance throughout the event – and will be available for meet and greets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Throughout the day, there also will be food provided by Aloha Plate, as well as activities such as face painting and massages.

In the last three years, Kaku says, UFC Gym BJ Penn has seen a number of success stories from its members.

“We’ve had a great share of 100-200-plus-pound weight losses, fat loss, muscle gain, bodybuilding competition winners, body transformations, post-pregnancy bounce-backs, and even members who are now off prescribed medicines as a result of diabetes and blood pressure,” says Kaku.