How to choose a BJJ gym is a question every beginner needs to answer before embarking on their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey.
As a purple belt with almost five years of experience in BJJ, I understand the importance of finding the right gym that fits your goals, schedule, and budget.
In this article, I'll provide you with a step-by-step guide on what to look for when choosing a BJJ gym.
From understanding your motivation and goals to researching potential gyms and attending a trial class or open mat session, I'll cover all the essential factors to consider before making a decision.
Choosing a BJJ gym can be overwhelming with the plethora of options available.
I hope that after reading this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to choose a BJJ gym.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Determine your goals and motivation
Before you start searching for a BJJ gym, it's important to understand your goals and motivation.
As someone who has gone through this process, I can tell you that it will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Ask yourself: why do you want to train BJJ?
Is it for self-defense? As a hobby? To lose weight? Make new friends? Or do you have aspirations to become a sports competitor in grappling or MMA?
Understanding your "why" will help you set realistic goals and determine the type of gym that will best suit your needs.
Once you've identified your goals, it's important to set realistic expectations.
If you're starting from scratch, don't expect to be good within a couple of weeks, months or even in your first year.
Instead, focus on small goals that will help you progress in your BJJ journey.
Your goals and motivation should also guide your choice of gym.
If you're looking to train for self-defense purposes, a gym that focuses on practical applications and situational drills may be the best fit.
Gyms that are under the lineage of Helio Gracie, Rickson Gracie, Royce Gracie, Royler Gracie or carry the "Gracie Jiu Jitsu" brand tend to focus more on self-defense.
If you're interested in competing, a gym with a strong competition team and a coach with experience in competitions may be more appropriate.
Gracie Barra, ATOS, Art of Jiu Jitsu and GFT are some of the more sports-oriented BJJ academies.
There are also gyms that teach both the self-defense and sports aspects of BJJ. A good example of this kind of gym is Alliance Jiu Jitsu, a team I am fortunate enough to be affiliated with.
In short, understanding your goals and motivation will help you choose a BJJ gym that aligns with your expectations and aspirations.
Take the time to reflect on why you want to train BJJ, set realistic goals, and choose a gym that will help you achieve them.
Step 2: Research potential BJJ gyms near you
Once you have a clear idea of your goals and motivation, it's time to start researching potential BJJ gyms in your area.
Here are some tips based on my own experience.
First, use online resources such as Google to find gyms near your area.
Make a list of potential options and start to narrow it down.
Next, read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends or other BJJ practitioners.
Reading reviews and asking for recommendations can help you get a sense of a gym's reputation and what others have experienced.
It's also important to consider the gym's affiliations and the credentials of the head coach.
Do they have experience in the type of BJJ that you're interested in?
Are they affiliated with a reputable organization?
Does the head instructor have a legitimate lineage and belt certifications?
The answers to all of the questions above are very easy to find with the help of the internet.
By doing your research online and asking the right questions, you can find a BJJ gym that aligns with your goals and has a positive reputation in the community.
Step 3: Directly visit the gyms and judge for yourself
Now it is time to visit the BJJ gyms that you have chosen through research.
When visiting, you want to consider the gym's location and proximity to your home or workplace.
It's important to factor in the time and cost of commuting to the gym.
Which of the gyms that is closest or most accessible from your home or your workplace? This could be the deciding factor.
Next, evaluate the gym's facilities and equipment.
Look for a clean and well-maintained gym with ample space and equipment that suits your training needs.
BJJ is a contact sports and you might want to avoid a gym that is lacking in cleanliness and hygiene.
If I have to choose, I would rather join a gym that is a little bit further from my home or workplace but clean than one that is nearer but dirty.
Step 4: Attend a trial class
Attending a trial class is crucial when it comes to figuring out how to choose a BJJ gym that's right for you.
A trial class allows you to experience the gym's atmosphere and culture firsthand.
To prepare for your trial class, make sure to wear comfortable athletic clothes and bring a water bottle.
Arrive early to introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know that you're new to BJJ.
They'll likely ask you some questions about your goals and experience, so be prepared to answer them.
During the class, pay attention to the instructor's teaching style and how they interact with students.
Do they take the time to explain techniques and answer questions?
Are they approachable and willing to help students who are struggling?
These are important factors to consider when choosing a gym.
Also, take note of the gym's culture and atmosphere.
Is it a friendly and supportive environment?
Do the students and instructors seem welcoming and encouraging?
You want to feel comfortable and supported while training, so this is an important factor to consider.
Finally, pay attention to the quality of instruction.
Do you feel the instructor is able to deliver his points concisely?
A good BJJ instructor should be able to teach a complicated technique in simple terms so that beginners can also grasp the concepts and ideas behind it.
By attending a trial class and carefully evaluating the gym, you can gain valuable insight into how to choose a BJJ gym that meets your needs.
So, don't be afraid to give it a try and see for yourself.
Step 5: Consider the cost
So, you have determined that you want to start training BJJ in a gym of your choice.
The last step is for you to do now is to look at the cost of training.
I am going to be honest; BJJ can be an expensive hobby and if you are not a sponsored athlete or do not have a stable source of income, the cost can significantly burden your budget.
If you want to know more about the average cost estimation of training BJJ, you can read my post on it here.
To wrap it up....
In conclusion, choosing a BJJ gym requires some research and patience.
First, determine your goals and preferences.
Next, research potential gyms online and in-person.
Consider the gym's location and facilities.
Then, attend a trial class or open mat session to experience the gym's atmosphere and training style.
By following these steps, you can make an informed decision on how to choose a BJJ gym that best fits your needs.
Remember, finding the right gym may take time, but it's worth the effort to ensure a positive and fulfilling training experience.
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