What is P.O.W.?

P.O.W. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is actively improving the mental, physical and emotional well-being of veterans and active military through MMA-style fitness, yoga and peer-to-peer support. Participants meet up to three times per week to participate in classes, and also meet for social activities outside of class. P.O.W. helps veterans and active military transition to back into civilian life by offering contacts, resources, skills, guidance and 24/7 peer-support. P.O.W participants get fit, stay positive and keep their bodies and minds engaged. Learn more about P.O.W. >>

What does the P.O.W. program cost?

There is zero cost for participation in P.O.W.

Will I need to buy sports equipment or pay for a gym membership?

No. P.O.W. is fortunate to have generous sponsors who supply fitness and safety gear, nutritious snacks and free use of gym facilities at no cost to P.O.A. and its participants. A full list of our fantastic sponsors/in-kind donors can be found on our Donors and Sponsors pages.

I’m not sure I qualify for participation in P.O.W. What are the participation requirements?

P.O.W.’s only requirement is that you are a U.S. military veteran, active military or member of the Reserves or National Guard.

Your discharge status, previous or current rank, personal and professional affiliations, cultural or ethnic background, creed, gender affiliation and physical ability and/or current fitness level are completely irrelevant. P.O.W. is proud to be a welcoming and supportive community.

P.O.W. seems like a cool group and a really effective way to bump up my fitness regimen. I never served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the Reserves or the National Guard but I would like to come to classes.

While we sincerely appreciate your interest, P.O.W. is a nonprofit program specifically designed to meet the needs of veterans, active military and members of the Reserves and National Guard. We encourage you to consider the many other ways you can become involved, from volunteering to donating to sharing information about P.O.W. folks in your personal and professional networks.

I meet participation requirements, but I think I would get more out of the program if I brought my spouse or partner. Is that permitted?

Yes. The only exception to our participation requirements is for spouses and partners of veterans, active military, and members of the Reserves and National Guard.

Where are P.O.W. classes held and do I need to register?

At this time P.O.W. is only offered at Undisputed in downtown San Diego. Classes are held year-round on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Registration is never required. Feel welcome to email Coach Vance to let him know you’ll be there and/or to confirm a class date and time.

Tuesdays: 8:00 p.m. to approx. 9:00 p.m. Thursdays: 8:00 p.m. to approx. 9:00 p.m. Saturdays: 11:00 a.m. to approx. 12:00 p.m.

View/Download our Class Flyer (PDF)

Is this an advanced-level class?

P.O.W. provides a good workout for any fitness level. While the physical condition and abilities of program participants varies widely–ranging from those with physical challenges to those at the peak of fitness–the program is suitable and adaptable to everyone. Modifications to the fitness program are routinely made on a class-by-class basis. Feel welcome to contact Coach Vance to talk one-on-one about your fitness level and goals.

Do I need to know MMA or some form of martial art to participate?

ZERO knowledge is needed. Everyone needs to know the basics so we will still do the basics. This will provide the entire class with the best workout possible.

Isn’t P.O.W. really geared more for men?

Not at all! Women are encouraged to, and do, attend classes. Connect with a female participant before (and during) class. To ask questions, provide feedback and share a female perspective email Amanda Benedict, Coach’s Assistant/Women’s Liaison.

It’s not clear to me why veterans and active military need another gym? Aren’t there plenty of fitness facilities around already?

P.O.W. is much more than a gym or fitness program. P.O.W. provides a safe, healthy and supportive community that empowers participants to take control of their lives one smart choice at a time.

P.O.W. has been particularly successful at reaching active military and post 9-11 veterans, some of whom are combat veterans, and most of whom report difficulty transitioning from military to civilian life.

The idea of MMA seems really violent. Do people participating in the P.O.W. program get hurt?

Not at all. P.O.W. blends MMA-style fitness techniques with yoga in a safe and highly-supportive peer-group environment. In addition to fitness and yoga, P.O.W. coaches teach breathing and relaxation methods, coping skills, offer individual support and help participants connect with other resources within the full spectrums of health, veteran and military services. In fact, there are far more reported injuries due to Cross Fit than the P.O.W. program.

Why does the P.O.W. program employ Mixed Martial Arts to treat veterans and active military?

P.O.W. is not an MMA-training program. Through MMA-style fitness, yoga and peer-support P.O.W. directly addresses common but potentially devastating service-related challenges including the need for stimulus, structure and peer support as well as relief from social anxiety, isolation and many symptoms of PTSD. P.O.W. coaches stress the importance of addressing mental health issues and seeking proper treatment while P.O.W. program participants work together to problem-solve, learn effective coping strategies to better manage their symptoms, and utilize each other for support. P.O.W. addresses the whole veteran, body and mind.

A recent survey of program participants shows:

  • 90% of P.O.W participants report an improvement in physical health
  • 80% report improved ability to cope with stress and symptoms of PTSD
  • 79% report decreases in feelings of despondency, helplessness and/or anger
  • 75% report an improvement in long and short-term goal planning
  • 100% report a reduction of feelings of isolation 

There is no P.O.W. program in my city. When will there be a P.O.W. chapter near me?

P.O.W. is both highly effective and highly replicable. The P.O.W. board and volunteer staff envision P.O.W. chapters across the U.S. You can help us fulfill that vision by supporting P.O.W. in any number of ways, including but not limited to making a donation, sponsoring P.O.W., volunteering, or by spreading the word.

I think P.O.W. would be a great fit for my nonprofit or government organization. How do we get P.O.W. classes, or components of the P.O.W program such as yoga and coping skills onsite?

P.O.W. is actively seeking collaborative relationships with nonprofit and government organizations in San Diego County and Orange County, California. For more information about P.O.W. onsite programs and/or collaborating with P.O.W. contact Todd Vance.View/Download our On-Site Program Offerings (PDF)  

P.O.W. gets an enormous amount of media coverage and the entire program is free for participants. It must be very well-funded, and probably doesn’t need my support.

It’s true that P.O.W. garners a great deal of media attention, but it is still a young grassroots organization that relies completely on support from donors, sponsors and other funders. P.O.W.’s operating budget is still very small and 100% of P.O.W staff serve in a volunteer capacity. P.O.W. does not receive funding from the government, the VA or from other veteran-serving groups such as the Wounded Warrior Foundation. Nothing would mean more to our program participants than your generous support today.

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