If you are a woman, you might be feeling a little apprehensive about beginning your journey in BJJ. However, there is nothing to fear. If you’re a newbie, or just unhappy in the environment you currently train at, here are a few tips and tricks for finding a perfect gym to make your experience as a Jiu-Jitsu student as enjoyable as possible.
To begin, get on the Internet and research all the schools that are in your work, home, or school vicinity. It’s best to find academies that are closest to you, because traveling great distances in order to get to practice every other day, will eventually become exhausting. Once you’ve found a couple of options in your area, check out the training schedules they offer, even before looking at the prices. You should be looking out for academies that offer a diverse range of classes to choose from. How many times a week do they offer beginners’ classes? Forget anything less than three times per week. Do they offer “no gi” classes? Do they offer women-only classes? If you’re not yet comfortable rolling or practicing on men, make sure to check academies that offer that class. Choose an academy with a schedule that you can realistically work around, that gives you enough BJJ hours, study, or work time, and personal time as well.
Another element that’s important to look out for is size. If you’ve found a gym that’s fairly close to you and has a great flexible schedule, the next step is to pay it a visit. Now, why does size matter? You need adequate rolling space, and don’t want to have to constantly worry about bumping into people, or avoid them entirely because there’s not enough room for multiple people to be on the mat.
Another thing to look out for is cleanliness. You want to make sure the gym you will be training at is spic and span. Check out the bathroom, the changing facilities, and the shower. Do they have separate change rooms for men and women? Or is it co-ed? Ask about what their mat cleaning looks like. Are the mats cleaned after every class, or just once or twice a day? You definitely want to avoid getting ringworm or a staph infection. Practicing Jiu-Jitsu requires a certain level of hygiene and cleanliness, since you are getting on top of people sweating and rolling communally on a mat. The gym must be clean to minimize any health risks.
The next thing to be thinking about is goal alignment. Although this may not necessarily apply to people just starting off in BJJ, it’s important for those who have been training for a while and are seeking a new gym. Once you have a goal in mind, talk to the instructor to see if the academy suits your specific needs. Do they have a belt ceremony once every year, or give out belts on random days of the week? What does the support look like for competition? What is the school’s competition history? These can be very important factors in decision making. Is the school heavily into competition? Do you have to compete in order to receive a promotion? Depending on your goal, this may or may not be your dream school.
Lastly and most importantly, what sort of people will you be training around? You’re going to be essentially giving your body to someone to practice on, so assess the individuals that will be making up your class. Are they friendly? Do they try and break your arm while you spar? Some gyms foster this aggressive mentality, so if you’re just starting out, try to avoid them. Unless that’s your thing… At the end of the day, keep it playful, simple and fun.
You will also want to take advantage of the new instructional series by the legendary Bernardo Faria, Foundations of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bernardo is a five time world champion and one of the most sought after instructors in the world. As one of the sports most accomplished competitors, he has done something that many athletes are unable to do. He has been able to translate his BJJ knowledge in a way that is applicable to EVERYONE. You do not need to be a gifted athlete to benefit from Bernardo’s knowledge. Do not miss this one. You will not be disappointed.