Full Nelson Fight Club ready to open
Alexandria's Shawn Nelson knows what it's like to struggle to find the money to afford a gym membership.
Now he is trying to do something about that. The 1997 graduate of Jefferson High School is diving head first into the opening of his Full Nelson Fight Club, a mixed martial arts (MMA) and fitness gym he hopes will provide an affordable and convenient way for people of all ages to stay fit.
"I've always been a physical education guy and always dreamed of getting a gym going in town here to help the community," Nelson said. "Not someone who's out of town who owns five different gyms. It's to help the people here and to get the equipment in here that they want."
Nelson got his personal training certification two years ago. He will offer members circuit-training sessions five days a week at no extra cost. He also plans on offering mixed martial arts classes, including those for kids ages 5 and older.
Nelson said his focus in those classes will be teaching kids that there is more to MMA than just fighting. He emphasized the importance of having respect for an opponent and using the trade as a way to teach discipline. He also said any kid that wants to learn will have an opportunity to do so.
"I'm going to make it where kids that [want] to get in here are going to get in here," Nelson said. "If they can't afford it, we're going to get some people to back them and help them out in the community because some people just don't have the money, and they deserve to get a chance."
Nelson said his goal is to make it as affordable as possible for everyone. Memberships will be $30 a month with a $15 start-up fee. Punch cards will also be available for non-members for $10. He said those prices could come down in the future and members will not be locked in to any kind of contract.
"It's really important to me," Nelson said of trying to keep costs low. "Growing up...I didn't have a golden spoon. I lived in a small house. I lived without a bedroom. I slept on the couch a lot. To me, it's helping others and getting the community together and helping these kids and adults out. That's my emphasis."
Nelson's experience in athletics dates back to high school. He was an all-conference running back for the Cardinals during his senior season. He went on to play semi-pro football with the Alexandria Mustangs and currently plays defensive end for the Brainerd Lumberjacks. The 32-year-old is also 2-0 as an amateur MMA fighter after being introduced to the sport by former UFC fighter Brock Larson.
The Full Nelson Fight Club will incorporate that MMA training for those who want it, but will also have weight training and cardio equipment for members to use.
"The MMA is just an extra part of the gym," Nelson said. "So it's community friendly for everyone."
The gym, located at the old Bodyworks Fitness building at 219 6th Avenue East in Alexandria, is scheduled to open on Monday, July 18. Business hours will be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Nelson will be on hand as a personal trainer during many of those hours as he tries to get the gym off the ground.
"I'm going to be running my tail off," he said. "At least until we get rolling and get some members in. It's going to be exhausting, but I'm used to that."