University of Denver feature

MMA Trainer’s Story Starts With Love of Learning

The setting: a modest gym. Concrete walls and a boxing ring emerge from dim lighting. Weight machines loom on the horizon.

The protagonist: a petite, but powerful dynamo, her feet bouncing off the mat as if it were a trampoline. She beats up on a punching bag that’s as tall as she is and probably twice as wide.

“There’s a perception that in combative sports you have to be big or strong to be really good at them,” she says. “With martial arts, you can be a lot smaller than your opponent and still be able to dominate them.”

Her name is L.A. Jennings (PhD ’13). Jennings passes those words on to her students at Train.Fight.Win., the mixed martial arts gym she owns with her husband, Mike, who is also an experienced fighter. Coaching and running the gym is her side job — what she does when she isn’t at Johnson and Wales University, lecturing a room full of college students.

LA Jennings