Owner and trainer Mark Morgenstern has come along way from struggles with drug addiction to running a successful gym.
“Through fitness, I was able to change my life,” Morgenstern said.
Morgenstern has had an extensive history of drug abuse mainly with meth and heroin. And, according to Morgenstern, has been arrested “too many times to list.” However, he found that fitness could replace the addiction.
In 2018, Morgenstern was voted a top 5 ‘Best of the City’ personal trainer in New Mexico. That’s the year he became the owner of UFC Gym Rio Rancho.
“Its very much the same as drug rehabilitation, if you are ready to change, you need a good support system,” Morgenstern said. “You need a coach, you need someone to show you how to do things the right way.”
Many changes came with the new leadership. Morgenstern increased the number of classes available, introduced new classes, and bought new equipment to complete his vision. Since July 2018, UFC Gym Rio Rancho has seen a 25 percent increase in membership sales.
“When I took over we had 328 members and in less than a year we now have almost 440,” said Morgenstern.
According to Morgenstern, the gym just needed a little love and the members would take care of the rest.
“Every dollar he makes he turns it around and makes this gym better,” said trainer and member Pilar Bennett. “You could not pay me to leave this gym.”
Bennett is nine months pregnant and continues to muster enough motivation to consistently workout.
“Any class I take, the coaches understand my situation and help me do modifications of the things that I cannot do,” Bennett said.
According to Morgenstern, members like Bennett bring tons of people into the gym, make newbies feel comfortable, assist him in renovation projects, bring food and drinks to gym events, and treat the gym like a second home. Everyone knows everyone.
“We offer full-functional training: kickboxing, boxing conditioning, strength and conditioning, olympic lifting, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, crossfit,” Morgenstern said. “Anything and everything when it comes to fitness is our speciality.”
According to Bennett, aside from the strong unity of the members, the gym is unique because you can reach any kind of physical fitness here.
“Probably cannot swim here but I could become a fighter, a crossfitter– just become anything I want here,” Bennett said. “Since you can train for literally anything at this gym, I dabble with everything,” she added.
UFC Gym Rio Rancho offers equipment for solo training and offers classes seven days a week. The classes include boxing conditioning, a kickboxing conditioning, DUT (Daily Ultimate Training), one-on-one personal training, youth Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and adult Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“One of my best friends always says that there is something special about Rio,” Morgenstern said.
Daniel Zuniga is a reporter for the NM News Port- contact on Twitter @DanTheManJ12