With the ever-growing MMA market, it can be daunting to choose the right gym, especially if you’re living in a metropolis. You’ve watched many UFCs online and finally you realized its time to take off the pounds in a new kind of way. You’re a professional with a full-time job, or a full-time student, so you don’t really care much for competing and collecting medals, so luckily for you, I have outlined 5 things you should look out for when searching for that new MMA gym.
The gym doesn’t have to be huge, but depending on the amount of members, it can get a little crowded sometimes. Rolling in a packed gym can be dangerous. One sweep onto your head by a neighboring pair and you can be out of commission for quite some time. So pay attention to how full the class is and how much space is available. It can also cut down the value of your class, since you may have to sit out every other round to allow others to roll. Sharing is nice, sure, but you are training for yourself.
Gyms can have different methods of cleansing their space. I’ve seen gyms that have nightly cleaning crews and other busier schools that have a crew sweep the floors after every class. Some schools get their beginner students to sweep the floors themselves – called ‘Soji’ in Japanese Judo tradition. Either way, the floors must be clean, and not only because of the many horrific skin diseases out there, but you don’t want to be slipping on sweat from the previous classes, so why take the risk? Lastly, the bathrooms must be clean. You work all day and you’re always on the run, you may need to shower after class. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a comfortable experience?
This is probably the most important of the 5 tips. Even if you’re not crazy about competing and just want an exercise, martial arts is not something you should jump into just expecting to cut pounds, especially BJJ. Make sure that your teacher is attentive to detail and takes his time explaining things. If it’s a massive class, don’t be too critical though, since it’s hard to get around to 40 people with full attention. Make sure that he is friendly and that at the end of the day they make you feel good about your effort in the class. Negative energy produces negative results, so be wary.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu does not have to be your only method of exercising. A good gym for beginners can have a variety of other activities to supplement your BJJ training. Muay Thai is always great for cardio and if you have an interest in striking. A type of conditioning class is always great as well, whether it’s a BJJ oriented or MMA oriented class, it’s always important to have this option. Yoga is another great activity to compliment BJJ for flexibility. The list can keep going and gyms can have different combinations of these available. But the more under one roof, the better. Equipment, such as weights, a climbing rope and sauna, are always convenient too. But again, not every gym will have these – I am just throwing around options.
The experience at the gym is not just about arriving and getting your training. The people you train with on a regular basis should be peers you can relate to. Of course, the fact that you all have the common subject of training is great, but you want to see that most of the people leave their egos at the door – a phrase that has become quite synonymous with ideal martial arts training. So make sure after your trial classes (which all gyms should offer) you pay attention to how the people act. You don’t want to deal with arrogant meatheads that will hinder your progress and your overall enjoyment at the gym.
Words by Matthew Soroka
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