As a sport fanatic, I’ve tried various sports, but no other sport is as enticing and exhilarating like martial arts. Under my course, we are all required to undergo internship programme on our final year. Having that in mind, I’ve always dreamed about interning in a MMA gym as I am curious how things go behind the scenes. I am also interested to learn the ropes of coaching through a place of my interest. When the school has given us the heads up to start sourcing for our internship placings, I proceeded to send out my resume to different MMA gyms. I did not send it to the gym which I trained at, simply because I wanted to experience a whole new environment and get an exposure of the internship programme from scratch. Since I was from Junior College, University internship programme will be my very first intern experience. Honestly, I was very worried about how things will go, and whether I will be able to fit into the unknown work environment which is definitely going to be different from sitting in tutorial classes or lectures and simply listening and absorbing information.
Reply from The Jungle
The first gym that replied to my resume was none other than the gym I am currently interning at: The Jungle MMA. Alex (founder of the gym) was the one who interviewed me. Finding the gym wasn’t easy! To begin with, I am not someone good with directions. After alighting a Raffles MRT, I started to make my way through the complicated exits, trying hard to follow the GPS direction on my phone. I walked along Boat Quay, walking past the gym 3 to 5 times because I didn’t know the gym was on the third level (yes for the next intern who may be reading this, spot the bright yellow flag and maybe some grunts). I was getting really sweaty from the hot weather, and my GPS said that I have reached my destination even though I don’t see any gym. Suddenly, I realized that there was a flight of stairs and beside the stairs is a bright yellow sign that says Jungle MMA. I quickly make my way up the stairs, afraid that I was going to be late for the interview. Upon arrival at the doorstep, my heart was beating real fast, uncertain of who Alex is, how does he look like, is he fierce, is he big and scary? Opposite to my assumptions, Alex welcomed me with a firm handshake and we proceeded with the short interview session. My first impression of Alex was: friendly man (and no, the impression didn’t change if you are wondering). He accepted me as an intern on the spot and I was more than elated.
First Day of Work
While all my friends were whining about dressing up for work, having to wake up early in the morning and taking the public transport when it is jam-packed, I was happily chilling at home because my work only start at 12pm on weekdays (and 2pm on Monday). I get to have my breakfast at my own sweet time, Netflix a little before I leave the house. The very first day of work, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. Upon arrival at the gym, coach Henry greeted me with a warm smile and there was a lady behind him. She is none other than Lis, who is helping out Jungle with all the administrative matters. Also, Lis was the one who briefed me on what I had to do. I felt intimidated then, Lis was carrying a strong aura. After knowing that I have a little martial arts background, she casually initiated that we could spar in the future and I was excited for the day to come. What’s more fun than sparring right? The first day passed really quickly, with some adhoc duties and observing how classes were being carried out. Oh, and I had a sneak peek of the new location as well! Thankfully, there is another intern to guide me alone, and teach me before he leaves in mid-February and his name is Hakim. All in all, the small group of management was really friendly and welcoming.
Fun at Workplace
Within the first week of intern, I started to spar together with Lis and one of the members. It was an enjoyment to be able to do play around while on working hours. I was honoured to get the chance to spar with Alex and Henry as well, it was a good learning opportunity. During the break when we have no classes, I get to train on my own, on the bags or even go for a light jog (the scenery here is awesome). On some afternoons when there is an odd number of students, Henry would allow me to join the class and have a good sweat-out session. I would say it is a chill environment to work at, especially when the boss and staff are easy-going and pleasant. One of the main roles as Jungle’s intern is coaching. I was really keen to learn the proper techniques of pad-holding. As a practitioner, I always look forward to pad work with my trainers. Henry gave me a short tutorial on pad-holding and soon enough, I started holding for some of the classes when the respective coaches needed my help. I love the feeling of holding pads for the students and seeing them improve which each correcting tip given to them.
Majority of the work given to me were completely foreign as they were closely tied to management and marketing which I’m unfamiliar with since my specialization is science and not management. For example, I had to draft emails to send out to potential sponsors, or for media coverage. Thankfully, I had Lis to guide me along the way, answering to my infinite questions and doubts. Even though the tasks were largely contrary to what I have been studying in school, I love the hands-on experience as it is something unachievable in classrooms. Another important task was social media marketing. Together with Hakim, we were tasked to come up with video ideas and to constantly update the Instagram (IG) stories. Out of work, I post IG stories regularly on my personal account but posting on the Jungle’s account felt so different. I had to ensure that each and every story is unique and not repetitive, and most importantly, visually appealing and eye-catching for the viewers. In view of Covid, we aim to keep the gym as clean as possible at all times hence we will mop and vacuum the floor after each class.
To the next intern who will be working in the Jungle’s gym, I can assure you that the working environment is inviting and adaptable. Personally, I feel that within a short period of 1 month, I have learnt many things which is only possible because Jungle is a small business as compared to better known gyms like UFC or Evolve. Due to this fact, there is a lot of things which I get to try and handle since the management is small and tight. Messages are easily conveyed and passed down without any delay. If you are someone who loves martial arts like me, it is definitely a bonus to work in a MMA gym like Jungle where you get to train during your breaks and spar with others. Even if you have no exposure to martial arts, don’t be afraid to give it a try. Who knows, you may actually fall in love with muay thai, boxing or BJJ!