With the new year just around the corner, many people may have already begun thinking about joining a gym after the holidays to work off all the turkey, ham and fruitcake. One gym in Albertville not only offers a unique way to get into shape but also teaches confidence through self-defense.

Located at 8117 U.S. Highway 431, Ultimate MMA (mixed martial arts) has been offering classes on self-defense since brothers Willie and Jose Evans opened the business in August 2018. The gym teaches a variety of martial art styles and self-defense classes including Mauy Thai, Jiu-jitsu, women’s self-defense, boxing and kickboxing.

With close to 40 members made up of men, women and children as young as 6 years old, Willie Evans says the gym has grown during its first year, enabling them to add more training equipment.

“At the beginning, as a small business in Marshall County, it was not easy maintaining the cost,” Willie Evans said. “But with help from the community and friends, we have made it over a year, and it looks like we are here to stay.”

Some gym members —including Jose Evans — fight in MMA competitions, and Willie Evans said the gym’s record is 14 wins to five losses with one draw.

“That’s thanks to our trainers Trey ‘Taz’ Slaton and Daniel Watts who dedicate their time to help the fighters and members reach their athletic peak,” he said.

Jose Evans emphasized Slaton’s contribution to the gym, saying he has “been there since day one,” and without him, the business might never have gotten off the ground.

The Evans brothers hope to keep growing the business and expand to a bigger location.

“We want to move to a bigger location where we can add more mats, keep the boxing ring and add an MMA cage,” Willie Evans said. “We also have plans to team up with a few other small business owners in Marshall County to start a fighting promotion.”

MMA is “a full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from various combat sports and martial arts.”

Jose Evans said he and his brother started the gym to bring people in the community together and provide a positive outlet for aggression.

“The best thing about the gym is watching people get better at the gym and also improving their lifestyle, confidence and learning self-defense,” Willie Evans said.

For more information about the gym or how to join, visit the Ultimate MMA Facebook page.

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