Prime Gym Time: Young’s MMA

| October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

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The brick building gave no clue to its interior; a standard build in New England with no signage to speak of. Driving along side, I tried to decipher if it was even the right address and was relieved to find a small sign in the door, directing me to a blue awning at the rear. Walking into the tiled corridor, the nature of the building was still a mystery, having the look of an old YMCA or high school, rooms packed to the gills with old boxes and new ones as well. While I couldn’t determined what this place used to be, the sound ricocheting down the hall was distinctive. The sound of a kick shield’s sharp exhale as foot and shin crashed home. Whatever this placed used to be, it was the home of Young’s MMA now.

I walked into the first room and marveled at the size of the new structure, open and functioning, though the finishing touches for the Grand Opening were still on the to-do list. The mat space alone was larger than a few entire gyms and boiling with activity. Despite being told I was going to be visiting during off-hours, half a dozen fighters had snuck in to work their technique just the same. Across the expanse, a Krav Maga class was in session; an oddity in an MMA gym, but Young’s MMA had its roots in traditional martial arts and had evolved in multiple directions. The Krav Maga crew was working their own brand of violence on kick shields, the steel framework for the thai bags not yet completed, but promising room for over a dozen. A full cage loomed straight ahead, a full boxing ring formerly belonging to Rocky Marciano in the corner, and strength and conditioning center in the other. A mural of fight photographs and the Monster Energy logo framed Young’s MMA on the far wall, and showed how far they’d come, from times when corporate sponsors were a pipedream for MMA.

I met with Ernie Fitch and Chris Young, co-owners, manager and instructor, and talked a bit about their transformation. This was the third home of Young’s, having started in Chris Young’s basement as he took to teaching while rehabbing an injury. Despite being anything but world-class in terms of accommodations, Young managed to make a splash on the scene immediately, fielding some of the best young talent the region had seen at the time. There was just one problem with their set-up.

“The newspaper was interested in interviewing our guys at first, but we couldn’t let them into the gym because it was just embarrassing. It wasn’t even a particularly nice basement, but a dingy, nasty, place.”

It was interesting to hear what Young could do with just his hard-won knowledge in a cramped underbelly of a home, and spoke volumes of his own experience and ability to impart it upon others. Too often we see massive faculties opened by pro fighters on their way into retirement and soon enough find them closed again as the realities of instructor become harsher and harsher. Being able to function on an elite level in the cage doesn’t necessarily make one an elite trainer, and 3,000 feet of mat space doesn’t mean anything if you can’t direct traffic between even two individuals. Hearing what Chris could do with nothing to speak of, the possibilities for the new location were endless.

The growing infamy in the scene at that time allowed Young’s MMA to set up a true school, moving from his basement into a 2,000 square foot space that allowed them to bring new members into the fold easier. Their success as a team came with a welcomed problem in the world of business, and martial arts in particular.

“Literally the moment we moved into the new place, it was too small.”

Success breeds interest in the MMA community, both from  people looking to get into the game, as well as fighters that need that next level of instruction, and Young’s MMA found itself bursting at the seams as their roster of elite fighters grew and collected accolades.

Top New England prospect Ray Wood has sharpened the axe at Young’s; Bruce Boyington has been turning opponents into highlight reel knockouts for years under their tutelage; Ryan Sanders is known for his overflowing bag of tricks in the cage. These fighters, with their attention-grabbing victories brought in the next wave of combatants that we’re seeing make their mark on the cage today. Coming off the mats after a hard roll with one of the BJJ coaches, Dave Lord, Nash Roy took a breather and talked about his part of Young’s that has come to fruition.

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Having transformed himself from 280lbs to a fit fighting weight of 170lbs, Roy has teamed up with Ryan Sander’s wife, Vanessa, to provide expert service under Young’s roof, with nutrition advice and a full Strength & Conditioning program. Roy isn’t the only team member getting to work for Young’s either, as Chris and Ernie took me down the hallway to conduct the official tour, stopping at a completely outfitted Tae Kwon Do school within the building. The Tae Kwon Do school is run by Shawn Hill as well as Young’s title holder Bruce Boyington, and provides a family-friendly environment within the compound, or simply another option for striking training for fighter’s intent on being more dynamic. The inclusion of children and focus on fitness-based activities isn’t new to MMA gyms, but Young’s has developed a reputation for their MMA fitness programs that has helped carry them to this new location; dominating much of the room in their size and intensity.

While the building wasn’t finished yet, the school would boast full locker rooms for both men and women, and with further expansion possible for other niches within the building. The future of Young’s MMA and its fighters was much on all our minds as we talked about Ray Wood and his tremendous showing in his return bout, as well as the hungry lions they were preparing to unleash on the unsuspecting Maine MMA scene. Now boasting one of the best MMA facilities in all of New England, the sky is the limit for those flocking to the Young’s MMA banner.

Young’s MMA is the premier facility in Northern Maine and runs classes seven days a week for all levels. Visit youngsmma.com for class schedules and additional information on what’s going on within the new school.

For information on Warrior’s Way Athletics, which offers S&C as well as nutrition and personal training inside the Young’s MMA gym, follow them on facebook or email Nash Roy: warriorswayathletics (at) yahoo.com

Special thanks to Young’s MMA for having me in, and Prime Athletics for providing me the with gear needed to visit and train within these gyms around Maine.

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