Review of Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg, Maryland
For over seven years I’ve been at Evolve Academy, and I can’t recommend it enough. I will give it a try though right here and right now.
Since I’ve started training, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many gyms, and each has its own unique character and environment. So we’ll start off with just outlining some key benefits that anyone considering the gym will gain from becoming a member.
- You will be welcomed no matter what your current physical condition may be
- Over time, you will attain skill sets that will improve your ability to master your own body and may one day save your life.
- You will learn from instructors that have put the skills to test on the street or in competition.
Now we’ll expand on these points.
You Will Be Welcomed
The best thing about Evolve is that it is a family environment. There's nothing to prove when you step on the mat. It's just about learning and doing it in a safe manner.
So for example, even if you're overweight and out of shape like I was when I first joined, you will still be able to attain immense benefit. In fact, you'll find that focusing on learning skill sets will make that secondary goal of getting into shape so much easier.
You Will Learn Skills That Will Help You
Here are some quick examples of what you can learn from each skill set taught at Evolve:
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu: One of the main benefits of training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is that you intuitively learn what the human body can and cannot do mechanically. For example, a human cannot maintain consciousness when the carotid arteries are blocked for a duration of time, thus cutting off the blood flow to the brain.
Thai Boxing: If for whatever godforsaken reason, you find yourself in a situation where you have to fight, these are the skills you want. It's more than just hitting a bag or knowing how to throw a kick. You will learn all the intricacies of the craft like timing, defense, the importance of hard tools like knees and elbows, among other things.
Wrestling: I hate to say this, but wrestling is one of the most effective martial arts, and so few realize it. The benefits are immense, but If I had to boil it down, I would say that in wrestling you learn how to use your whole body to generate force and power.
Mixed Martial Arts: To paraphrase Bruce Lee, it's all about taking what works and discarding what doesn't. Here you will have to blend everything else you know into one style, which will make it that much more effective.
Right now, I just went through a mental inventory of the instructors at Evolve. It's surprising how diverse their backgrounds are. One is a cop, another does high level security work, and at least two others used to and may still bounce at clubs.
In fact, it may be a good idea for me to go out and ask them for stories that are acceptable for public consumption, I have no doubt that they have been in situations where understanding how to make a human body fail would be of extreme benefit.
Beyond that, we also have a TUF alum, current MMA fighters, and International level BJJ competitors.
Quick Program Overview
There are several programs at the gym.The first one that I had experience with was Personal Defense Systems, which is predominately Thai Boxing. It's a little different from traditional Thai Boxing because there is a belt system to measure progress and self defense applications are included.
The next program I went into was Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and I caught the bug. It's such a incredible art, and Evolve offers some great instruction. I have nothing but good things to say about training there.
Attaining a certain level of proficiency in both PDS and BJJ also offers the opportunity to join the MMA program. The gym has several members that have taken advantage of that opportunity and accomplished great things. Results matter.
Then, if you have no interest in learning a martial art and just want to lose weight, there is a option for you. The gym has a program called Primal Skills. It focuses on a scientific blend of martial art and interval training that replicates the demands and duration of a MMA without the contact.
My First Day at Evolve
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.
Frank A. Clark
A little over five years ago, I started to pay attention to MMA. I remember catching a marathon of The Ultimate Fighter, and I found it far more interesting then than I had when I watched a few of the early UFC shows as a kid.
When I started watching MMA again, it was the striking aspects of things that fascinated me most of all. The knockouts, the roundhouse kicks, the knees, and all that fun stuff just grabbed my attention, and I wanted to learn that skill set. So I hit the net, typed in Maryland Thai Boxing, and of the options that came up Evolve Academy stood out to me the most. I filled out the contact form, someone called me back that day, and I went out that weekend to give it a try.
I arrived early despite the slight difficulty in finding the location since it was little off the road. I went in and did my intro which consisted of a explanation of the program, technical basics, and hitting an air bag. It’s actually funny now to think of how terrible I was at kicking that bag.
After that, I jumped into the regular class, and it was hard. At that time, I was around 350 pounds, overweight, and I had never done any sports. The class had a significant cardio portion, and it was quite the shock to my system, but I didn’t quit. I made it through the pushups, through the running, through situps, and everything else, but it felt like my heart was going to beat out my chest.
When it was all done, I went up to Master Mike and told him that I really wanted to do this but I didn’t know if I could. I would love say now that he gave me the greatest pep talk ever that just motivated me to come to the gym every day and put in that hard work, but it didn’t happen that way. Instead, he just looked at me as if to say that it wasn’t up to him to make that determination it was up to me.
Then, he actually told me that if I wanted to perform better in the gym I had to put in work outside the gym as well. That lesson stuck with me. Even to this day, I sometimes wonder if I had went anywhere else, would I still be training now.
It’s difficult to know the answer to that question, but I feel lucky to train at Evolve, and you will too.
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