January 2014

No Babies at El NiƱo Training Center

Amber Hawkins

El Niño Training Center is a 700-square-foot world-class combat training and fitness center located at 26th and Third Street, with parking available in the front. Originally opened by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Gilbert Melendez as a personal training center in Bayview, El Niño expanded into its larger space in southern Dogpatch in 2011. Fighters come from all over to train with Melendez, who is ranked third worldwide among UFC fighters.

The energy in the gym is high, generated by those in training or visiting for a workout.  The facility features a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Octagon fighting cage in its back corner, a boxing ring, heavy bags, grappling mats, a strength and conditioning area, and a pro shop.  Melendez, an MMA coach, stressed the importance of learning the fundamentals before taking on the full MMA experience.  To that end, during a recent Muay Thai training session in which the View participated, trainer Josh Clopton went over the basic forms and techniques of Thailand’s 1,000-year-old martial art and national sport. 

 “Training–wise, I’ve wanted to do this forever,” said Melendez. “I love the sport. I originally opened the gym for myself as a place to train, and it quickly became home for myself and the  many people that have joined since. We have some of the best trainers in the world, and we are making great magic here.“

“This is more than a gym, it’s a good community,” Melendez continued. “Friends and family and all skills levels are welcome to train with world-class fighters. Every demographic can train here. All walks of life:  kids, police officers, parents. We challenge them and push them. There is no ego here. But be ready to work.” 

The El Niño Training Center offers a variety of programs, including Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, conditioning, and sports medicine. Training camps and workshops are available throughout the year. 

“It seems impossible not to work hard when you are being motivated by some of the best fighters in the world,” said Scott Tompkins, after his first time training at El Niño.

For more information about El Niño Training Center:  550.6689 or www.elninomma.com


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