If you’re the type that easily gets bored with exercise, training like a fighter takes the monotony out of working out. Be it boxing, Muay Thai, grappling, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), you hit more muscle groups, utilize your core, and engage your cardio all at the same time.
But more than torching more calories, you’re also learning how to defend yourself—handy should you find yourself in a situation where you’re under attack. To ensure you remain safe in any self-defense moment, you must learn fighting techniques from qualified coaches.
Where to find them, you ask? Well, never fear, FHM is here! We compiled a list of gyms around Metro Manila where you can learn different forms of fighting from qualified coaches.
Maic's Boxing and Fitness Gym
Location: 7 Ditchoy Street, Midtown Subdivision, San Roque, Marikina City
Hours: 06:30 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Friday), 06:30 AM to 8 PM (Saturday), 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (Sunday)
Web details: Facebook.com/MaicsGym
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ), MMA, Suntokaran Todo-Bakbakan
The lowdown: Maic’s gym is an all-around facility that hits both fitness and fight training needs. If you’d like to try boxing, it has two rings and ample heavy, speed, and double-ended bags. Trainers here are either active or former pro-boxers. And the session's priced right; you’ll pay as little as P120 per session depending on the package you get. Do you fancy MMA? Former Universal Reality Combat Championships (URCC) featherweight champion Andrew Benibe teaches classes inside a cage. Parking isn’t a problem and the shower rooms are decent. If you plan to go in the evening, be prepared to see a packed gym.
Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk
Location: Metrowalk Complex, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City
Hours: 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Saturday)
Web details: Facebook.com/UltimateFitnessMNL
Fight classes offered: Fight Form, Boxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA
The lowdown: The home of Submissions Sports Philippines MMA team is built like a fighter’s gym with a ring, ample mat space for grappling, cage implements for MMA training, and an assortment of heavy bags for striking all under one roof. All their instructors are legit starting with the gym’s program head, former MMA fighter Erwin Tagle. It’s a good place to train both for striking and grappling. But if you’ve never thrown a punch in your life, their signature group class called Fight Form is worth trying. It’s a circuit program based from movements of the different martial arts. Once you’ve got a good handle of it, you can then progress to real forms of fighting. It’s also a favorite seminar spot for famous UFC fighters and if you’re a member, you’ll always hear about these first. It’s inside the Metrowalk complex so parking or getting there by public transportation isn’t a problem. Another upside: There many places to eat around it once you’re done.
Empire Boxing Makati
Location: 2nd Floor, PTT Building, C. Palanca Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Hours: Open 24 hours (Monday to Friday), 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM (Saturday), 9 AM to 5 PM (Sunday)
Web details: Empireboxing.com.ph
Fight classes offered: Boxing
The lowdown: If you’ve always wanted to train in the middle of night (or you work in a BPO company in odd hours), Empire Boxing offers you that opportunity. The gym is open 24 hours on weekdays, eliminating the excuse not to sweat. As for the boxing coaching you’ll get, a number of trainers here are still active pro-fighters—meaning you’ll get sharp and crisp instruction on how best to throw those jab-straight-uppercut combos.
Location: 5th Floor, Karen Building, 9 Annapolis Street, Cubao, Quezon City
Digits: 0922-357-4822, 0918-274-6083 and 0926-614-1006
Hours: 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM (Monday to Saturday)
Web details: Facebook.com/TeamKobayashi
Fight classes offered: Yaw-yan, MMA
The lowdown: Owner and head trainer Henry Kobayashi opened this gym to teach Yaw-Yan classes, a Filipino form of martial arts founded by master Napoleon Fernandez in the '70s. But Kobayashi added more grappling and other MMA techniques to the art, hence the term “hybrid.” Why is this gym legit? For starters, you’ll learn how throw powerful kicks and punches, takedown defense, and other grappling techniques alongside pro and amateur MMA fighters. The setting: A non-air-conditioned gym where you’ll sweat buckets trying to deliver strikes while hearing the ambient noise of cars and the LRT 2. Only in Cubao!
Gerry Peñalosa Boxing Gym
Location: 8th Acropolis Center, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Quezon City
Hours: 07:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Mondays to Sundays)
Web details: Facebook.com/GerryPensBoxing
Fight classes offered: Boxing and Muay Thai
The lowdown: Beginners stand to benefit from training here. You’ll learn the rudiments of the sweet science from trainers who are either current or former fighters trained by the famous Peñalosa brothers (former World Champs Gerry and Dodie Boy). Like in any old gyms, there’s no air conditioning, just windows and fans to get you sweating as you learn how to throw body hooks the way Gerry did. There’s ample parking in the complex where the gym's at, but know that it's a packed place in the evening.
S.P.A.R. Fight Institute
Location: 47 Sky Building, Kamuning, Quezon City
Hours: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Friday), 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Saturday)
Web details: Facebook.com/sparfight
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, Judo, MMA, and Kyokushin Karate
The lowdown: First thing you’ll notice at this joint is the amount of mat space they have. Compared to most gyms, it’s not cramped by equipment. Grappling here is top-notch as Professor Ali Sulit, a long-time Judo black belt and coach of the Ateneo Judo team and also a BJJ black belt, is the one conducting the classes. Coaches in other disciplines have either pro or amateur fighting experience. The gym is well-maintained despite the daily influx of people. They also have a free valet parking service so you can come in and just worry about not getting hit.
Location: Suite 301, Gil-Preciosa Building 2, 75 Timog Avenue, Quezon City
Hours: 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM (Monday to Saturday), 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Sunday)
Web details: Fistgym.com.ph
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA, and Kali
The lowdown: Fist is rather Spartan with the green mats, there's no air conditioning, and the space can get quite limiting. It's hard not feel like wanting to train at something more spacious. Despite this, we suggest you make the most of the training dispensed by its impressive roster of coaches. Eduardo and Melchor Espinosa, former pro fighters and brothers of former World Champ Luisito, teach boxing here. Local MMA vet Jerry Legaspi leads both Muay Thai and BJJ classes. Neil Larano, an up-and-coming MMA fighter, is also a coach, while Stephen Kamphuis, a many-time medalist in international jiu-jitsu tournaments, regularly teaches BJJ. Why leave if you have that kind of excellent coaching available to back you up.
Safehouse Fight Academy
Location: 3rd Floor, Lamco Building, (behind Max’s), Quezon Avenue, Quezon City.
Digits: 351-2051 and 0917-827-6713
Hours: 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Saturday)
Web details: Facebook.com/safehousemanila
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, BJJ, and MMA.
The lowdown: Safehouse is a small facility. Once you enter, you’re greeted by the two halves of the gym—the matted and the turf areas. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of training and coaching. If you’re serious about getting good at MMA, Safehouse offers coaching for every facet you’ll need to get on top. It’s one of the few gyms that offer wrestling with a high-level coach in two-time SEA Games gold medalist and former National Team coach Jimmy Angana. All other coaches are either National Team members in their respective sports or active pro-fighters. Some afternoons, all the trainers have a session—giving you a glimpse of how expert fighters train.
Elorde Fight Factory Manila
Location: Tomas Morato corner Roces Avenue, Quezon City
Hours: 08:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Saturday), 09:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Sundays)
Web details: Facebook.com/FightFactoryManila
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, and MMA
The lowdown: It’s not the biggest of gyms but it has adequate mat space for grappling and a small boxing ring to give you an extra boost as you throw strikes. This sweat box is a must-visit because of the organizations affiliated with it. First, it’s powered by the Elorde brand, and when we talk boxing, Elorde (last name of former legendary World Champ Gabriel, aka Flash) is one of the best in teaching the sweet science. It’s also affiliated with Deftac, one of the pioneer BJJ groups in the country. If you’re also in need of fight apparel, this gym has a shop that peddles an assortment of gear. It’s quite accessible both by drive and public transport as it is in the Tomas Morato area.
BAMF MMA Center
Location: 4 Dona Irenea Avenue corner Sucat Road, Paranaque City
Hours: 09:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Monday to Saturday)
Web details: Bamfmma.com
Fight classes offered: Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, Wrestling, and MMA
The lowdown: BAMF is one of the biggest MMA gyms (almost 1,000 square meters of mat area) and it’s a complete set up, offering both striking and grappling expertise. It’s the home gym of URCC founder and BJJ black belt Alvin Aguilar and a lot of BJJ and MMA practitioners, including current and former URCC fighters Richard Lasprilla, Fritz Rodriguez, and Ali Khatibi, train here. It’s also one of the few gyms that offer wrestling training with multiple-time international medalist Marcus Valda teaching. Aside from the good amenities you’d expect from a big facility, they also have a 30-day free trial where you can try all the classes offered.