Switching BJJ Gyms for the First Time

Switching BJJ Gyms for the First Time

Thinking of switching gyms? Maybe you have found yourself moving city? Or fleeing out of the country for work? Perhaps you want to move to a closer or cheaper gym? Sometimes relocating from university, or moving locations due to a new job can make it difficult to find a gym that’s right for you again. Whatever the reason, when you start at a new gym it is usually a little bit daunting; especially if you don’t know anyone who trains at your new gym. Every new encounter is usually a little bit awkward at the beginning, but as soon as you begin to know a few people’s names, you will begin to settle.

Picking a gym to train at isn’t the easiest of options either. There’s some key areas that need considering but you don’t want to be constantly switching gyms every few months or else you won’t ever really be settled. You want to make sure that the martial arts gym you choose suits your training needs and your lifestyle in general as well as any other needs you may have.

Due to moving around the country, I have had to relocate a couple of times, so I prioritised my needs when it came to finding my new ‘perfect’ gym. What do I want? Think – what is most important to you? Proximity of the gym, the price, the friendly community feel, or the quality of teaching/ reputation? Or is it all them? When I look at new gyms to train at, they are the main qualities I look for.

The price range of BJJ gyms often depends on a variation of factors such as the location, space provided, equipment provided, quality of instructors, amount of lessons on the timetable, and the amount of sports the gym caters for. Depending on whether you’re a hobbyist or competitor may also be a deciding factor on where you train because it might be too laid back or too uptight/ strict for your liking.

First impressions

When starting at a new place you want to give off a good impression and prove that you can hold your own but you also don’t want to come off as too aggressive; so meet your ego in the middle and take the L’s. Be friendly to others and see how it is reciprocated; more often than not you will be welcomed with open arms. You don’t want to start somewhere that is hostile and unwelcoming.

Some things to take into consideration…

Friendly Atmosphere?

Are the staff and students friendly and welcoming? You want to feel as though you can fit into the class, and be able to approach anyone for help if needs be. Likewise, are they a community type gym where they go out and have socials? Or is it less social? If you’re a woman and it is important to you for other women to be there, is there any there?

Membership Works to Your Schedule?

Every gym will have different membership schemes, and they are not all necessarily the “best value for money” so you will have to find one that fits your schedule and one that you feel you will get the most out of. Likewise, the times of the sessions – are they too early for you? Can you finish work on time and make the classes? Is there a membership that benefits you the most?


You want to know that you’re training in a clean environment, so are the changing rooms and toilets clean? Are showers available? (If you require them to be). Are the mats cleaned in between sessions? Are people wearing shoes on the mats? Is the cleanliness of the gym up to par? We all want to avoid those pesky skin infections as much as possible!

Quality of Instructors/ Reputation?

Are you concerned about the rank of your coach? If you’re new to the game and you’re learning the fundamentals is it vital that your coach be a black belt? Would you rather pay a higher membership for a black belt coach to be teaching over a brown belt? Do you enjoy their lesson plans? Or do you feel as though you don’t get enough time focusing on the things you want to actually focus on? i.e . drilling and sparring. Is your coach patient? Particularly with newcomers? Do you find them to be… good? All of these things often have to be taken into consideration when starting a new gym, but some factors – more than others, depending on YOU.

Establish your needs when it comes to your training. Do you want a black belt instructor? Do you train a lot? Can you make the evening classes? Is the gym clean? Are the people friendly? Is the membership value for money? If these are all questions you have then go out looking for the gym that has the answers. Remember, you don’t have to settle for the first gym you try out.

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