EXCLUSIVE | UFC Gym Senior VP Adam Sedlack Details Second Facility In Hawaii, Partnering With B.J. Penn, Growing The Brand And More | Late Night Cage Side Radio
Since the inception of the UFC Gym franchise, the growth of theses facilities has been staggering. With locations popping up all over the country, it is hard to deny the success of the brand and the desire of Americans to train like their favorite fighters and with more locations opening everyday, chances are your area will soon host one of these incredible establishments. One of the latest installations involves our own B.J. Penn and the Hawaiian nation.
The Waikele facility opened on October 12th and enrollment leading up to the opening far surpassed expectation. Mr. Sedlack told listeners about the promising Hawaiian market, telling Kinch and Chase, “It is our eighth club total. And when you look into Hawaii, this is our second club with our partner out there, BJ Penn. We started enrollment on the 24th of September. Having a UFC gym is great, then when you multiply that with BJ, it has been beyond expectations. We are setting more record-breaking numbers (and) are VERY excited to get that second location in Hawaii open.”
With the star power of Penn coupled with the one-of-a-kind experience customers receive at UFC Gyms, the potential for the Hawaiian market is limitless. Sedlack told LNCS, “Hawaii is an incredible market for the UFC. I go there every two or three months to go over business operations, and wherever you go on the islands the UFC is big, and B.J. Penn is absolutely huge there. B.J. is a class-act and the stuff that he does within that community creates a positive community feeling. Not only in our facilities but it also helps extend the UFC brand to the entire Oahu market.”
The success of the first gym in Oahu led to Hawaii’s requesting additional facilities for sake of travel, Sedlack continued, “That was the initial idea behind opening a club there. The following, and B.J. being a net ambassador for the sport, really paid off with the first gym. There were a ton of people requesting additional locations. I don’t know if you guys knew this, but from what I understand, Hawaii has the country’s worst traffic. It is the no. 1 congested highway in the U.S. So the last thing they wanted to do was wait in traffic for an hour-and-a-half to go train. We had members enrolling who lived 30-45 minutes away and it would still take them an hour of a half to get to the facility. It was a no-brainer. We have multiple sites selected out there and B.J. will be a part of all of them. We are very excited to continue our extension.”
In regards to the facilities structure and equipment available for use, members might be surprised to hear that the UFC spared no expense in the design of these state-of-the-art gyms. Sedlack gave a breakdown of you can expect to see upon entering a UFC Gym, “You walk into a typical facility – they range between 30 and 45-thousand square feet – you are going to see over a million dollars of equipment, a bag room, an endurance room for group fitness classes and a mat room for BJJ and wrestling. Of course you are going to see an “As Real As It Gets” Octagon in the middle of the facility – that is what we consider the heart of our club. In addition to the equipment, you will see full-amenity locker rooms with showers and dry saunas. In most of our facilities we also have a cafe restaurant because people underestimate the importance of nutrition. People will go in and train their ass off, but they leave and forget to eat. They start burning muscle instead of fat and they don’t do the right things for their body. When we started creating this concept, we watched fight camps and how UFC athletes train and eat – how many supplements they took, how much water they drank and all of those things. That is why we have a cafe we call the Arm Bar, it is so we can mimic the way these guys train and diet.”
If you are intrigued with the idea of enjoying a healthy meal inside your gym, consider the fact that these facilities are designed and operated to cater to the individual. Adam gave listeners the basis of the UFC Gym mission statement, saying, “Everyone has a different goal and everybody has been the member of a different facility before. Our job is to understand what the customer is looking for, why they are looking for that, and then we make sure we have a significant amount of amenities and services for them. If they would like to lose 30 pounds and are not so focused on becoming the next B.J. Penn, we have a fitness program and a nutritional program for them, so we can feed them inside the gym that they are working out in. If they want to compete and be incredible at BJJ, we have a private training program and a group training program. We have a membership that allows them to take unlimited BJJ classes, so it really caters to the individual. The number one health enemy is procrastination, and the reason why people put fitness off is because they go to a gym and they don’t get the results they wanted. Our job is not only to motivate to get in there, show up and make a decision to better your life, but it is always to make sure you stay with it and create that lifestyle change.”
Whether or not you want to admit it, we all could benefit from more physical activity and healthy eating. Some of you may be saying, “How are these gyms going to cater to my area or region specifically?” Well, they have that covered too. Adam described the process that ensures the community will be receiving the exact product they want, “What we like to do, as we are enrolling our member base, is ask them what type of training they are looking for the most. Typically you are going to see a lot of people want to go after Muay Thai, boxing and of course Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – but there are also other modalities that we offer as well, like TRX or Daily Ultimate Training, which is a very intense, functional training class. So it depends on what the member base is looking for. We certainly have our staple of classes that we feel do very well. Once we start building a facility, we spend a lot of time going after the right talent to offer top-notch trainers and coaches at each. In order to train members like UFC athletes, the trainers need to have the caliber and skill-set to train the general fitness customer.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the UFC Gym brand is how this system was developed. Extensive research went into the development of these programs, and it all stems from the incomparable fitness of UFC athletes. The UFC Gym Senior VP told LNCS listeners how the concept grew, “When the fighters are training they have to be very functional in their movements. When you are fighting another individual, there are over 600 muscles in the human body, and (as) you are manipulating your muscles in this way, it is a very unfamiliar movement that the body is not used to. We found a way of duplicating the training these athletes do, and let me tell you, the traditional fitness guest or member would absolutely love the way UFC athletes train.” Sedlack continued, “Not only does it get them closer to the sport, but it gets them to appreciate why these athletes are so unique. What’s really cool is when members take advantage of our classes, and the different types of modalities in our facilities, so they can actually learn something too. You don’t see that in a lot of fitness centers nowadays. You go in, you use the treadmills and free weights, then you leave and don’t learn a whole lot. It is more than just the conditioning aspect, you are also learning something as well.”
All things considered, many customers may be weary of enrolling for fear of being hurt or thrown to the wolves in an initial training session. Adam is well aware of this concern, and addressed it with the following, “The biggest misconception is ‘Am I going to get my ass kicked?’ That is just not true. When people see the UFC logo they think we are going to put right in the middle of the Octagon and start in a championship 5-round fight. That is just not the case. What we want to do is say, ‘Okay, this champion who fights 5 rounds, has conditioning and is in great shape – here are the individual disciplines that they are good at. Here are the classes and fitness training to get that customer in that kind of shape – without the broken nose, the chipped tooth and the concussions.’ It has worked very well thus far. I think the biggest thing has been that you go there and just start fighting. What we really do is empower the customer to do that and get in better condition, so it is certainly a win-win for us.”
Another point that comes to mind involves the UFC fans that will likely sign up to be closer to the UFC and its athletes. The Senior VP told LNCS that UFC Gym members will definitely be seeing their favorite fighters in the facilities, and in more than one capacity. Sedlack stated, “Every one of our gyms and facilities are visited by UFC athletes. Two or three of the facilities have fighters that have made a UFC gym their training home. Certainly in Hawaii. B.J. Penn has frequently trained at our Honolulu location and he will also be appearing at our Waikele club quite often as well. In addition to that, the UFC hosts events at these locations. For example, we have the 20th anniversary coming up. Part of that will include autograph signings at all of our locations. So it gets the average customer and the UFC fan a step closer to the UFC and the UFC athletes.”
“Our goal is that, at least once a quarter, we have a UFC presence in the facility. Members will likely see several athletes taking classes, or using the facility and our machines. One of the things that is very important to us is that we stay authentic. The UFC has put a significant amount of fuel into the way that we operate and that we stay true to our roots. As a result, when you walk into these clubs, you will see our TVs tuned to UFC programming. You will see our legends wall that shows all of our top-notch talent in the UFC. And typically, you will also see a schedule of events that can include watching a UFC event live in the club, or having a UFC athlete coming by for a seminar, or an autograph event.”
The unique experience these facilities offer marks a first in the fitness industry for training like a professional athlete. With regards to how this business first left the ground, Adam Sedlack gave an insightful background into the implementation of the franchise. He stated, “As you guys may or may not know, the fitness industry hasn’t changed a whole lot in 3 or 4 decades, so there is a unique opportunity to take a look at how these UFC athletes train. I mean, these UFC athletes train like no other athletes out there. You guys have had some incredible guests on your show, so you know how hard they work out and how hard these guys train. It’s not only a muscular development and cardiovascular, there is a lot of mental discipline with their ability to determine how to move on the mat. It has really opened up a new door for us in this concept.”
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