This month we are looking at MMA, so I chose an MMA gym close to my house with a long list of great trainers (and fighters). I met up with Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox Owner who is actually one of the founders of SB Fitness Gym in Bedminster.
I’m a traditional martial arts guy and that is all I know, so I’ll be honest, this was a slightly daunting prospect and I struggled to know what I was going to talk about out of my comfort zone, hoping that Jess could help me along.
I walk into a room with an impressive full caged ring right in front of me, Met with Jess and John Conway (Co-Founder). Jess was just winding up a PT session so I took a look around, there is a couple of weights rooms a full boxing ring too, bag work areas, out in the room, not tucked in a corner, which is great! There is great space and equipment in here a great Calisthenics class going on with an awesome frame for a number of people to work at different stations, liking it so far!
Whilst waiting I got to have a chat with John, he is a traditional boxing trainer but has also ventured in to Wing Chun and Escrima so not too far a step from what I am use to. John showed me they really have thought about how this place will work, decent Rings so they can train for professional fights, clever layout with adjustable bag racks. Decent open mat areas for classes, as well as a couple of rooms off the main area. This is not a lavish spa kinda gym, it feels more like an old boxing training ground (not dark and smelly tho) but they’ve spent the money where it counts.
Jess has finished and I ask him how he got to this point from the start?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: I got started with Karate as most of us did…..
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: That’s exactly the same for me!
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: ….You see, yup a great martial art, but then I got hit by a car, (he passes over this lightly but it was a very serious accident and injuries) and was then not able to do high kicks anymore. Then I got into a really great martial art Wing Chun.
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: Nice low kicks.
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: Yes, low kicks for me and it didn’t hurt my back, so from that point I rehabilitated myself. I met a guy from London called David Newman, it was Jeet Kune Do then, that spread to kick boxing, Boxing, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, some Indonesian martial arts…
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: A bit of stick fighting?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: Yeah, Escrima a bit of everything. So basically I was travelling to London all the time, then I had a chance to set up Sweat box ten years ago, met a really great guy Pedro Bessa…..
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: Ah Well known BJJ!
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox:.. yes, we are basically the sister club to him here. He has a club on Gloucester Road, so we are fully affiliated to Pedro and with that its just snowballed really. We have Martyn Hurd, British Muay Thai Champion (amidst a list of things), Nad Narimani (currently signed to Cage Warriors, heading for UFC), to name a couple of many coaches (with excellent backgrounds also), and of course John Conway for traditional Boxing.
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: And all of those guys train here, do they all teach?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: Yes, all those guys train here and teach. Basically what we do is every martial art we have here we train 3 times a week, three jitsu, three boxing and four thai and for every lesson there is a different coach, So different skills and different personalities..
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: THAT really is Mixed Martial Arts!
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: We also do the Calisthenics classes with Sami (Diaz Bousri) and Strength, Conditioning etc
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: So you can also train here with NO Martial Arts?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: Yeah that’s what is great about the place and the atmosphere you can get everything doesn’t have to involve fighting, HIIT, Womens Box Fit, Kids etc
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: So, I only really know MMA because of UFC, so what does go on here day to day?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: Well MMA fighters are dedicated people, they will do a BJJ class and a Boxing class, and weights and we also run MMA classes here where they blend it all together, So they can find their own style along the way.
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: Do they have to follow a course or a pattern?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: It just depends, most of the best people here just train ALL the time, some pick and choose it really does depend on personality. Its highly technical and dedicated all round.
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: If you come down here do you have to compete?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: No, it comes down to three ways really. You can train for fitness, for enjoyment or you can train to compete. There is only about 20% of people who just train, most are dedicated and driven and want to compete but that’s good for everyone and keeps everyone going. Obviously its good that our coaches have competed or are heading that way themselves, Dwayne In there teaching Muay Thai competed at the O2 arena two months ago, so people have the chance to go on to something like that. We can arrange interclub fights and have good contacts to follow those routes, obviously there is no rush to do it, a lot of gyms push people too quickly. We like to train people to a very good standard and then take them through it step by step, its all about the enjoyment at the end of the day.
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: So starting out, if I come down next week do I need anything to train?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: For the very beginning we do a free introductory class so no not really but if you want to commit when chosen your arts then yes you will need Gi’s, Gloves, Pads, Mouth guard, Ankle guards….
Mike @ Enso Martial Arts Shop: ENSO MARTIAL ARTS FOR ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT NEEDS ? ?
Jess Whatley Bristol Sweatbox: LOL yes, Of course, rash guards etc depends what you choose. Its investment and good value for money over time.
So, I’ve never really seen myself in an MMA gym and thought there was a meat head kinda vibe around it (from watching TV) that is far from what I found here! Jess, John and the others are very approachable the equipment and set up is awesome, the people training were dedicated and enjoying themselves and its possible I’ve been talked into a Muay Thai class as it looked brilliant. Jess (PT head on) also helped me with a few injury niggles so I best get on with my homework. Thanks Jess and the Sweat Box team, if you have been considering MMA or anything they offer and like me find it at all a bit daunting, then get through the door and you might just love it as I did.
S B Fitness Gym
16, Whitehouse Street,
Bristol, BS3 4AY
Facebook Messenger – www.facebook.com/SBFitnessuk
Or Contact form on their website www.sbfitness.uk.com
Classes Timetables and prices also on the website.