Fargo MMA gym keeping members in the fight with online workouts

PHOTO: Fargo MMA gym keeping members in the fight with online workouts

FARGO -- Inside the Academy of Combat Arts, all that Dylan Spicer can hear now is the buzzing of the lights hanging on the ceiling.

"We’re used to having 20, 30 people per class and that’s like 6 back-to-back classes in the evening with 20 plus people in them," said Spicer, who owns the gym.

That's been reality for the last month with gyms closed due to coronavirus.

Not only is that tough on members, but also on coaches and instructors.

"We know how people are feeling right now because I feel the same way," Spicer said.


The best way for him to look at the COVID-19 pandemic is as though he's stepping up to face an opponent.

"We’re not always in control of the fight," Spicer said. "From that I’ve gotten an appreciation for not always being able to control external factors other than my own attitude."

Spicer is taking that attitude into how he attacks his gym's closure. Along with coach Jim Trottier, he sets up shop in his facility and does a 15 minute "fight tip" lesson on Facebook Live everyday at noon.

Then at 5:00, he sends out a Zoom link to gym members and does a more in-depth training session for an hour.

"That sense of community you get by showing up on a zoom class and seeing your friends faces, I think it’s that human connection that is really still benefiting people that kind of feel alone," Spicer said.

There are challenges with having to adapt to teaching through a computer screen, but it's a fulfilling process.


"A lot of people have more time on their hands, so they can do a lot more stuff," Trottier said. "They want to spend that hour with me still."

The plan is to continue the online workouts until the gym reopens.

For Spicer, helping people learn mixed martial arts during the pandemic reaffirms how much positivity the sport can bring.

"MMA, it has that stigma of being violent," Spicer said. "Really in a bigger way, it brings you a lot of peace of mind."

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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