Mixed martial arts powerhouse UFC plan to open 15 gyms in Singapore
It will partner local brand NF Fitness and focus on boxing, kickboxing and high intensity interval training
Global mixed martial arts (MMA) powerhouse Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) yesterday announced an aggressive plan to open 15 franchise gyms across Singapore over the next 10 years, in a move that underscores the growth of combat sport gyms over the past decade.
Based on a census of sports facilities by national sports agency Sport Singapore completed last year, there are about 175 private and public gyms in Singapore, up from about 150 in 2010.
These gyms serve the fitness needs of both health and adrenaline enthusiasts, which according to industry experts number about 50,000.
While a number have closed - most notably popular chain California Fitness in 2016 - many combat sport gyms, which typically focus on common MMA disciplines such as boxing, muay thai or jiu-jitsu, have sprouted in their place.
UFC, whose fighters like Conor McGregor have achieved mainstream fame, will partner local brand NF Fitness, to open the first UFC Gym by next February. The various gym locations will focus on boxing, kickboxing and also high intensity interval training, to cater to a more mass market audience.
Started in 2009, UFC Gym has opened in more than 150 locations across 11 countries in both North and South America, the Middle East and also Asia.
Asia is seen as an emerging market which, according to a recent International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association report, is worth more than US$16 billion (S$21 billion) in revenue.
On the website for the Vietnam branch, it listed a promotional offer of 499,000 Vietnamese dong (S$30) for three weeks of training.
Details about pricing were not revealed as UFC has not confirmed its membership model here, UFC Gym president Adam Sedlack said.
He added: "The UFC Gym is on an aggressive growth plan globally. We've entered some strategic markets over the last few years, and we always knew Singapore was going to be a fantastic market for us."
Evolve MMA, which started in 2009 at PoMo in Selegie Road, now has four locations. Its senior vice-president of operations Wesley de Souza said: "There has been a shift for people going towards martial arts as a form of working out and keeping fit. Our oldest student is 73 and our youngest is four. We even have tourists who come to train at our gyms. This shows MMA really is for everyone."
CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said there is still room in the wellness industry for expansion.
He said: "I think there are no signs it is reaching a saturation point. It is a question of how well the gyms are managed and how they differentiate themselves from others."