The founding concept was simple: number one, it should be fun and number two, it should be safe and clean. No matter what your goal is, whether you want to be a world champion, lose weight, or socialise, the key to achieving these goals is having fun. If you are enjoying yourself, then your goal will work for you. Kenny and Darren felt that this approach would inspire more people in Plymouth to step through the door, and not only learn a new discipline, but to have fun and discover more about themselves along the way.
Having a large, modern set-up was at the forefront of Kenny and Darren’s minds when designing and building their dream gym. Inside the gym, they have dedicated areas for each discipline, all of which are state-of-the-art. They also have a fully functioning weights and cardio area, with everything you need for an intense workout, and a drinks bar for socialising afterwards.
The Gym Ethos
The sign above the entrance to the matted areas states, ‘no shoes and no egos past this point’. Kenny is a strong believer in learning to control the negative emotions that come from ‘losing’ to a training partner and accepting that it’s a part of the sport and part of your personal growth. ‘Everybody has an ego, it’s not about eradicating it, it’s about understanding and controlling it.’ At Flo, no one individual is more important than the team as a whole.
Flo’s friendly atmosphere is noticeable as soon as you walk through the door. Everyone is on a level playing field in the gym; whether you’re a builder, scientist, doctor, or parent, none of this matters on the mat.
Flo Martial Arts is available for anyone to join, no matter your skill level, strength or age. They have recently set up a peewee class for children aged from three to six years old, which Kenny’s daughter loves. They try to make the classes as fun and enjoyable as they can and the emphasis is on learning through play. They believe that it’s especially important to introduce children to wrestling and ‘play fighting’, and give them a physical outlet and a chance to learn to deal with conflict in a way that is far too often missing from the modern world.
World Class Coaching Team
All Flo Martial Arts coaches have a wealth of experience. After training as a child, head coach Kenny Baker came across footage of the early Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events. He was impressed by the level of skill it took to control a resisting opponent, and how much Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiujitsu differed from traditional martial arts, where moves are often practised on a compliant partner. He started training under Karl Tanswell in Manchester at one of the now-famous SBG Gyms, alongside the UFC’s Gunnar Nelson, who became a friend and regular training partner. After multiple training camps at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, Kenny was awarded his Brazilian Jiujitsu black belt in 2012 and, whilst his competition days are now behind him, he’s still capable of casually out grappling the whole team.
Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Kate Jackson, coaches junior and adult MMA and no gi grappling at Flo. She started with karate and judo 20 years ago, and has been a professional MMA fighter since 2009. She fought on Season 23 of the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter and is a Brazilian Jiujitsu brown belt. She currently fights for Bellator MMA, where she’s ranked number seven in the world. She’s a regular jiujitsu competitor – a European Champion, and in 2019, in Hawaii, Kate became the first British woman to fight for a world title in a major MMA organisation.
One of the gym’s main coaches is Steve Hollister, a karate black belt with 40 years of international competitive experience. He’s also a BJJ brown belt and the gym’s head kickboxing coach. In 2014 his drive and passion for martial arts led him to ‘start again’ as a white belt, and put his black belt and ego aside in order to start a new journey and learn to grapple. He’s incredibly dedicated, and still spars with the fight team and gives them a hard time.
The Flo Judo team are led by highly accomplished husband and wife duo, Mark Adams (4th Dan and 22-year Judoka), Masters World Bronze Medallist 2017, Masters Commonwealth Silver Medallist 2019, Masters European Bronze Medallist 2019, Masters 2 x British Champion (ranked top 5 GB for 4 years’) and Kylie Adams (3rd Dan and 27-year Judoka) Masters 2 x Bronze European Medallist 2019 and 2018, Masters Commonwealth Champion 2019, Masters 2 x British Champion, Olympic Test Event 2011 to name a few. Mark and Kylie are also a brown belt and purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu respectively.
Two BJJ purple belts, Will Conway and Jordan Bussell, lead the children’s BJJ classes. Will is a strength and conditioning coach who competes regularly, whilst Jordan also teaches at a local primary school, which means she’s great with the gym’s junior members.
Flo offers a one-week free trial, so people can properly experience the classes and the gym.
The gym’s core sport is Brazilian Jiujitsu. They have a large team, with four black belts and nine brown belts, and a separate beginners’ (101 BJJ) programme. This programme runs three days a week and is designed to give you a basic understanding of the sport before you move on to the intermediate (201 BJJ) programme. It also provides a great introduction to the gym, our coaches, and your new teammates. You’re welcome to start the classes wearing normal gym clothing. Flo strongly encourage their members to train in a way that helps them and their teammates improve and stay injury free. Classes are for learning and improving, not ‘winning’ at all costs. It’s a great way to make use of your one week free trial!
Flo Martial Arts memberships range from £25-£70 per month, depending on how many classes you wish to attend a week. They have a pay as you train option, and then two, three, four and unlimited sessions a week. One of the most popular is the Platinum membership, which includes an unlimited amount of classes, and free use of the weights and cardio area, with no joining fee, for £60 a month for a full 12 months. This option comes with either a free BJJ uniform or free striking gear (gloves, shin guards, mouth guard and hand wraps).
As an exclusive offer, Flo Martial Arts are offering all packages without a joining fee if you show them this article until the 15th September.
Flo Martial Arts offers something much more valuable than a gold medal, it offers a safe space to be yourself, to have fun, to make friends and to develop yourself into a stronger person inside and out. All you need to do is surrender yourself to the power of the sport and let it take you on a journey of self-discovery.
01752 396 371
62 Valley Road Business Park