MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — Since opening in February, BH Sports Training/BrawlHouse in Mountainside has managed to attract a surprising number of world-class trainers, including boxing legend Gerry Cooney, named one of Ring Magazine’s “Greatest Punchers of All Time” and a co-host of “Friday Night at the Fights” on Sirius XM Radio; Donnie DeFilippis, one of the most celebrated wrestlers to come out of New Jersey; and Vítor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, a four-time Brazilian jiu-jitzu champion who holds a professional MMA record of 20 wins and five losses:
“You’d expect that maybe in Manhattan, in Los Angeles,” said David Martin, co-owner of BrawlHouse with fellow Westfield resident Christopher Jordan. “It’s right here.”
Yet there’s lack of ego when you enter the training facility. Co-Owner David Martin said the instructors here are down-to-earth and welcoming to people of all ages and abilities.
“They’re interested in passing on their love and passion, their discipline, on to others,” said Martin. “It’s really about paying it forward for them now.”
BrawlHouse offers wrestling, CrossFit, Flo-SSA training, Taekwondo, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Animal Flow, youth boot camp, mixed martial arts, Muay Thai and yoga. Currently, it has about 300 members of all ages. (Non-members can take classes here, too.)
In addition to athletic skills, instructors here teach important core values such as honor, integrity, teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle. Athletes sign, and are held to, a sportsmanship pledge and a non-harassment pledge before they train here. People’s welcoming, accepting attitudes at BrawlHouse create an atmosphere that is more like a home away from home than a gym.
“There’s a community here,” said Martin. “I think, when you’re here, you’re part of something more than yourself. That’s the ‘house’ in ‘BrawlHouse.
And the “brawl?” That’s a reference to their motto, “Your Greatness is Worth Fighting For.”
“I think this is a really special place,” said Martin. “What makes it special are the instructors, our members and their families.”
BrawlHouse operates with a social mission, too, working with disenfranchised youth, holding events with veterans and offering scholarships for kids whose parents can’t afford to pay full price.
Martin said that he and Jordan created BrawlHouse to be a place that makes a difference in the community.
“I’m a firm believer that athletes who participate in these sports are much more successful in life,” said Martin. “They teach self-reliance, how to deal with disappointment when you don’t win and how to deal with stressful situations. And they teach humility. These physically demanding sports humble you very quickly.”
Training at BrawlHouse emphasizes focus, confidence, power and purpose.
“All of the sports and activities that we offer here are vessels to help people find what makes them great and see past their perceived limitations,” said Martin. “It’s all about being the best you.”