Locally Richmond is an occasional series of profiles that highlights the small businesses that contribute to making Richmond a unique community.
Steven Han wanted to be a physical therapist until he saw a few wrong moves.
A fan of mixed martial arts, he spotted flaws in the ring while watching UFC fights during his time at Pennsylvania State University.
“I was noticing the coaches were doing something wrong,” Han said. “There were holes in their game.”
Han, 25, moved to the Bay Area two years ago from New York after completing his studies in kinesiology at Penn State. Now he is the owner and strength coach of Omni Movement, a mixed martial arts and athletic training facility in Point Richmond.
The center, which has been unofficially open since this summer, offers an open gym, training in Thai kickboxing, dynamic stretch, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Olympic weightlifting and sports performance.
Although Omni Movement is the only facility of its kind in Richmond, it is among a handful in the East Bay and one of many in the Bay Area, with at least eight in San Francisco alone.
“I wanted to bring my personal philosophy to the Bay Area,” Han said, adding that he saw a “perfect niche” here for his approach, despite the region’s already-high level of amateur and pro activity.
He chose Richmond in part because of its relatively low rents, underscoring the growing importance of affordability when Bay Area businesses consider where to locate. Han said renting space closer to his home in Oakland, or just about anywhere else in the Bay Area, would have cost him three or four times more than what he wound up having to pay.
Besides an affordable space, Point Richmond also offered a central location in the East Bay close to a large number of potential customers working at the startup companies along the end of Harbour Way. There is a CrossFit training gym next door to Omni, but Han said the two centers complement one another. Training regimes are different. Han’s approach involves something called “plyometric,” or “jump training,” combined with calisthenics and weightlifting.
He admires Bruce Lee’s philosophy of using movement as a form of expression. He is also a fan of Yuri Verkhoshansky, the Russian father of plyometric.
“The human body is limitless,” Han said.
The problem with recent exercise trends, Han said, is that people are using bodybuilding and heavy weightlifting to gain muscle without first gaining body control. He offers the missing element through mixed martial arts.
“Gyms would be solely for weightlifting and bodybuilding, and others for MMA,” Han said. “That’s pretty limited. I wanted to combine it. This is my hybrid.”
Recalling some of his early insights from college days, Han said he has seen trainers sometimes who lack focus, neglect footwork and overlook the importance of the muscles in the feet and toes.
“I saw some of the stuff they were doing and thought, ‘No, that’s wrong,’” he said. “So I put my money where my mouth is.”
He registered the gym’s name while still in college. As a new businessman, Han has also taught himself coding and graphic design for the center’s website and online marketing.
Han said the gym will officially open when more equipment is installed, but he has already accepted a few customers interested in using the facility. As an added bonus, potential customers can enjoy a free trial week, taking any of the classes offered.
Omni Movement recently recruited local boxer Jonny Perez as the gym’s boxing coach in an effort to begin an official USA Boxing team. Ahmed White is the center’s kickboxing coach.
“His approach to MMA is much different than other gyms in the area,” White said of Han. “From the first day this opened up, we’ve grown so much. Watching how much we’ve grown makes me happy.”