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December 22, 2014

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First UFC gym to open in Concord, Calif.

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Steve Marcus

UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, left, of Montreal, Quebec, Canada faces off against lightweight champ B.J. Penn of Hilo, Hawaii during a news conference for their megafight on Jan. 31, 2009 at the MGM Grand. The two champions will have signature UFC gyms built in their hometowns.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced Wednesday that Concord, Calif., is going to be the home of the company’s first-ever gym.

Concord, about 29 miles east of San Francisco, was chosen in part because of its proximity to the residences of New Evolution Fitness Company (partnering with the UFC in the fitness venture) co-founders Mark Mastrov and Jim Rowley.

“Born, raised and now residing in the East Bay, we wanted our first UFC Gym to be close to home. This facility will allow us to carefully monitor and fine-tune the UFC Gym concept for future growth and provide our community with fitness training in new dynamic ways,” said Mark Mastrov, the founder of the widely successful 24 Hour Fitness chain, which has 400 clubs in 16 states with some 3 million members.

While the gyms aren’t intended for professional or aspiring fighters, UFC president Dana White believes the specialized UFC gyms — which will still contain the staple cardio equipment and free-weights of normal health clubs — will offer a mixture of mixed martial arts workouts and other fight-based training that regular fitness centers can’t.

“We are excited to open our first UFC Gym, it’s going to have something for everyone in the family, from traditional mixed martial arts classes, to all-around fitness classes, personal training and a gym just for kids,” White said of the gyms, which will all contain a UFC Octagon — the company’s trademark eight-sided cage used in UFC fights.

“We are going to redefine the fitness industry, and get everyone excited about fitness again, starting with the first UFC Gym in Concord, California," White said.

The Concord gym is the first of five planned test gyms in California likely to open by early next year.

The first gym will open June 17 at The Willows Shopping Center, 1975 Diamond Blvd., in Concord. An interactive tour of the planned gyms is available at ufcgym.com.

Earlier this year, UFC and NEFC announced their partnership with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and lightweight champion B.J. Penn, and are planning to build signature gyms for the UFC stars in St. Pierre’s native city of Montreal and Penn’s home state of Hawaii.

"We're going to force all these other gyms to take it up to another level," White told The Associated Press in January, about the UFC’s first major brand extension.

"Just like we have in the fight business, and everyone's trying to compete with us now, same thing's going to happen in the fitness industry."

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