There’s nothing like the thrill of physical activity to get your blood pumping and that’s exactly what local entrepreneur Travis Lumax is looking to do this spring as he brings to the Valley a different sort of gym.
“I’m opening an affiliate martial arts gym of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) – a very successful club,” he said.
“Instructors from the Winnipeg academy – including David Swanson – will be travelling in on weekends to teach and we also have some other instructors leading classes during the week.
“We’re looking at sessions for children, women’s self defence, brazilian jiu jitsu, kick boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) classes,” Lumax continued. “I’ve had people express interest in the children’s classes to me and I have a really good teacher lined up for the women’s self defense.
“Gym time will be fairly structured with some open mat times for more experienced individuals.”
Located next to Work World in the Cox’s building, Lumax hopes the space will come together in the next few weeks.
“I want to have a gym viewing in April with classes starting May 5,” he said.
“Registration for classes will be available online through WAMMA’s website (www.wamma.ca) in the near future and there will also be open registration at the local facility.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, MMA refers to a group of activities or combative disciplines that sees individuals train with the goal to compete in a contest using hands, feet, and the body to stop an opponent from continuing the fight.
“This can be through strikes or submissions," said WAMMA Black Belt, Dan Gange, noting that submission refers to a choke or joint lock that forces the opponent to concede defeat.
“There is a huge amount of information to learn and it is often a lifelong pursuit for those that are involved. Part of why people keep training in the sport is there is always something new to learn. You can always get better, no matter how long you have been at it.”
MMA gives people the ability to defend themselves, should they have to, and provides self-confidence, the ability to deal with high adrenaline situations, and keeps people in great shape.
“It also teaches discipline, patience, and control over your emotions,” added Gange.
“Combative sports will force you to get in better shape. Most people end up losing a significant amount of weight when they start training. It often sounds intimidating for people before they start but the program is designed to really ease people into the activities, making sure they are comfortable.
“Beyond the physical fitness benefits, it is an incredible way to relieve stress,” Gange continued. “Getting on the mats and training always puts people in a better mood. It is often the place where people come to forget about their problems and focus on the moment.
“But, perhaps most importantly, friendships are made. You spend several hours a week with the same people – problem-solving, teaching each other, and working to make each other better competitors. The bonds that are formed in the WAMMA clubs are strong and it often becomes the main social circle in member's lives. People often refer to the group as a family. It is an inspiring and encouraging environment that does not have room for bullying or negativity – often this is a refreshing change for new people.”
WAMMA was started in 2004 by head coach Curtis Brigham when his own coach left the city.
“Curtis began training in, approximately, 1996 and was among the first people to be fighting MMA in Canada,” said Gange. “He has won numerous fights all over the world and his skills as a fighter and teacher are some of the best in Canada - evidence of his skills are the number of highly ranked athletes he has trained with several competing in the UFC.”
While WAMMA has a very strong competitive team with athletes fighting and training all over the world, Gange notes that the majority of members are pretty regular people – parents, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, roofers, dog trainers, small business owners, farmers and students, for example.
“There are people training with us from all walks of life and all demographics – male and female,” he said. “Many people start training in their late 30s, 40s, or even 50s. We even have several people who train that have retired from their careers. It is NOT just a group of young men!”
With Lumax at the helm locally, Gange hopes to make WAMMA Swan River as successful as their other seven gyms across the province.
“Travis' has enthusiasm and commitment in bringing something special to Swan River,” he said. “The community has great people who understand the value of hard work and determination. We believe that smaller towns are a great environment to train good athletes and generally find people looking to join a great team.”
You can learn more about WAMMA at www.wamma.ca and on instagram at @wammacanada.