Irvine, Ca — After doubling his membership from 2006 to 2007, Jim Santaniello, owner of the mixed martial arts and fitness training center No Limits in Irvine, CA, plans to open five or six more locations within two years. The club, which has been open for four years, has less than 3 percent attrition and boasts a membership that is growing 10 percent a month.
Santaniello credits the facility's success to its dedicated and uniquely qualified staff. Trainers at the club include former professional fighters, hall of fame wrestlers and black belts.
“It's like having Tiger Woods show you how to golf,” Santaniello says. “Getting on a treadmill or doing weights is great, but if there's not diversity, you get bored with it. This makes it a fun workout.”
Members of all ages can take a variety of classes, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muayuay Thai or kickboxing. Memberships are priced differently depending on the class type the member signs up for. All members have unlimited access to the weight and cardio areas.
The mixed martial arts and fitness market is huge, Santaniello says. Although he competes for business with other martial arts studios and health clubs, he doesn't consider them competitors. In fact, his facility routinely opens its doors for martial arts competitions between No Limit members and martial arts students from other studios. Santaniello also has a deal with a local 24 Hour Fitness that allows No Limit members to use the chain's steam rooms and pools.
Although no figures are available about how many mixed martial arts and fitness facilities operate in the United States, 27 percent of International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) member clubs have martial arts programming, and 10 percent have self-defense programming, says Rosemary Lavery, IHRSA public relations coordinator. Santaniello, who says most of his marketing has been through word of mouth, plans to open two facilities on the East Coast, one in the Midwest, one in Los Angeles and one in Orange County, CA, within two years.