BANGOR, Maine — Less than a week after his thriving mixed martial arts and fitness gym was displaced, Chris Young finally can take a deep breath.
Young’s MMA is back in business.
Young’s was forced out of its home of the last 2½ years after Penobscot County agreed to purchase the former Bangor YMCA for $825,000 this month. But it was set to resume its regular class schedule Tuesday at its new temporary quarters, the former Great Skates building on Sylvan Road.
“This place will definitely work,” said Young, who founded Young’s MMA in the basement of his Brewer home more than six years ago. “It’s very spacious, and we’ve got what we need set up.”
Young co-owns the gym with Ernie Fitch and serves as the head coach for a stable of the region’s top mixed martial arts competitors. That group includes Bruce Boyington, Ryan Sanders, Aaron Lacey and Josh Harvey.
Young credited gym members for spurring talks between himself and Great Skates building owner Tom Ellis.
“We got that bad news that we had two weeks to get out of the other building, which was a really big punch in the face, so it was scramble time and really the members saved the day because they knew Tom and contacted him and told him the gym was in a tough spot,” Young said.
“Tom got in touch with me and ‘boom’ — we’re here through Tom’s generosity.”
Young wrote a Facebook post last Thursday evening seeking help with the move. By Saturday morning, some 40 members helped move the gym’s equipment to its new home.
“One of the members rented a UHaul that they didn’t even tell me about, and other people came with their trailers,” he said. “I thought it was going to be an all-day process, and we were out of there in an hour and a half.
“We’ve been throwing around the term ‘family,’ and that’s really what it is,” he added.
Young’s was able to maintain a schedule of fitness classes during its homeless period through the cooperation of Fields4Kids, an indoor sports facility in Bangor.
“Someone from the gym knew [Fields4Kids executive director] M.J. Ball, and he cleared some spots in the schedule so we could hold fitness classes,” Young said. “Honestly, without him it would have been a lot worse situation.”
Young will continue to look for a more permanent location for his gym, one somewhat smaller than the Great Skates building, a former roller-skating facility that was open for two decades before closing last year.
“I just want that security of being in a spot that we can call home because things can change,” Young said. “As gracious as Tom has been, if he has the right guy walk through the door that wants to buy this building, the dynamic will probably change, but he feels pretty confident that we’ll be good for six to eight months.”