- November 9, 2021
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By Ashley Onyon | Oct 13, 2021 | Featured, Local News, News | 1
Photo Caption: Anthony Constantino and the spacious and soon-to-be-open Combat Mule at 260 Forest Avenue in Amsterdam Wednesday. PETER R. BARBER/THE RECORDER
AMSTERDAM — Local kids can get help with their homework while learning the fundamentals of mixed martial arts at the new Combat Mules training gym being opened by Sticker Mule on Forest Avenue.
Sticker Mule co-founder and CEO Anthony Constantino on Wednesday said opening a gym to benefit local kids has long been on his mind to impart some of the lessons he learned through athletics that have contributed to his success in business.
“I learned a lot of skills in life through sports and I want to give kids an opportunity to do the same,” Constantino said.
When the former Mohawk Dairy building at 260 Forest Ave. located just up the road from the custom printing company’s production headquarters became available, Constantino jumped at the opportunity to purchase the deteriorating structure and convert it into his vision.
“I didn’t want to see it become another abandoned building in Amsterdam,” Constantino said. “It’s a historic building in the community and people walk by it all the time which is great for a gym setting. Kids don’t often have access, we wanted it walking accessible in the neighborhood. It’s the perfect location.”
Constantino and Sticker Mule invested roughly $800,000 to fully rehabilitating the property that was in “rough shape.” The structure and parking lot have been completely overhauled to make way for two new businesses Sticker Mule will operate at the site.
Half of the building will house a storefront for the sale and manufacturing of Sticker Mule’s unique hot sauce, Mule Sauce. That operation is expected to open sometime next year.
The other half of the building has been outfitted with a full suite of modern fitness equipment where Combat Mules will open next week offering kids in grades nine through 12 free training in the fundamental disciplines of MMA.
Constantino pointed to the up-and-coming sport as underrepresented in terms of training options for youth in comparison to sports like football, basketball or baseball.
“There is no outlet for kids interested in wrestling, boxing, Jiu-Jitsu. It’s not a sport that is serviced as well. But it’s a growing sport,” Constantino said.
Combat Mules General Manager Stan Pelech will provide training in wrestling, while Amsterdam native Roosevelt Glass will provide training in boxing. Eventually, Pelech said the gym will look to bring on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer.
The gym will provide novices and advanced student-athletes alike a safe space in which to master the skills of their preferred discipline.
“This is a friendly environment. We don’t view combat sports as a violent thing. We don’t want anyone getting hurt. We’re not allowing upper body sparring,” Constantino said. “Safety is first. We don’t want anyone put in dangerous, compromising positions. There is plenty of stuff you can learn without risking the health and safety of people in the facility.”
Pelech said the gym offers unique training facilities designed for multiple disciplines as opposed to typical gyms that focus on a single field.
“It provides everything you could want in one gym,” Pelech said. “If you go to boxing then you have to go to a Jiu-Jitsu coach somewhere else … then you have to go to a different place to get your weight lifting and cardiovascular training. Here it’s all in one spot.”
The 11,000 square foot gym has skill-specific equipment set up in distinct areas of the facility to provide adequate training space for the various disciplines with wrestling mats, a 25-foot professional boxing ring and 22 foot professional MMA cage.
The gym features such cutting-edge equipment as IronMind grip training, Jacobs Ladder climbing machines, TechnoGym Treadmills, a rope climbing machine, Stairmasters, kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, Nordictrack Airbikes, a custom made heavy bag system, and throwing dummies.
The facility also includes male and female showers and locker rooms, a handicap accessible shower and bathroom and a trainer’s room.
The importance of education and the parallels between training in sports and applying oneself academically will also be key tenets of the gym.
“It really teaches you discipline, self-dedication, desire and determination,” Pelech said. “When you’re around successful people, you tend to become more successful, because you start to model what they are teaching you.”
Both Constantino and Pelech said athletics played important roles in their academic and professional success. Pelech wrestled through high school and college before becoming a coach himself during an initial career in teaching that evolved into administrative positions until his retirement. Now he is looking forward to returning to his passion for coaching.
Beyond getting schooled in a proper right hook, Pelech said training sessions will provide opportunities for kids to receive tutoring in areas where they are struggling. He indicated the gym will likely provide options for kids to drop in after school before training for additional help in specific study areas, preparing for exams or writing essays.
“We want kids to have options after high school and those options should be to go to college if that is what you want to do,” Pelech said.
The gym will also provide training facilities for adult and professional MMA athletes to prepare for upcoming matches. These athletes will also receive free gym access as they train alongside their youth counterparts.
“The great thing about having professional athletes here is they can model for the younger athletes how to be a professional and how to carry yourself when you’re in your 30s and training for a fight. Young athletes get to see that and realize that dedication,” Pelech said.
Although the gym has not officially opened, Pelech said the facility has already hosted a pair of MMA professionals training for upcoming bouts. The gym is already beginning to garner interest among trainers and coaches through word of mouth.
Constantino and Pelech are looking forward to getting kids in the door to start training and learning new skills beginning next week. Providing kids completely free access to the facility, Constantino indicated, follows Sticker Mule’s commitment to supporting the community while creating an environment where employees want to work.
“We live in this community, so we want to do everything we can to make it good and investing in the future generation is probably the number one way to do that,” Constantino said. “We’re going to keep doing more exciting things for the city of Amsterdam. There are a lot of boring brands in the world and Sticker Mule is not one of them.”
Combat Mules at 260 Forest Ave. will be open Monday through Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m. Parents and guardians can pick up registration forms at the gym.
Reach Ashley Onyon at email@example.com or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.
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