Is My Gym the "Best"?

Lets start off by answering the question: No. I mean... Yes. Well, it depends. It is very possible that two people could have two different ...

Lets start off by answering the question: No. I mean... Yes. Well, it depends. It is very possible that two people could have two different gyms which are 'best' for them.

You see, it depends on what you mean by 'best'. Which is why, I suppose, you end up seeing endless recommendations for which gym is the best in town, or the state, or maybe even the nation... but yet the people making those claims probably haven't trained at all those other gyms or potentially don't even know which qualities you judge a gym by and what preferences you give them.

So when you are looking up gyms or recommending your gym to others, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself (even if you are 'experienced' and have been training for awhile): .

1. Gym atmosphere: If the atmosphere isn't right, and you don't fit in or get along with the other students and instructors, you will not want to show up to training.

2. Gym focus: Is it solely BJJ? Do they offer other classes you might want to take, like kickboxing or wrestling classes? Do they train MMA? Do they offer gi and no-gi classes? Any of the combinations of these things can be what is 'best' for you, depending on your preferences and intentions. Consider which classes you are going to actually attend (as opposed to classes you would just like to attend), and what the cost per class is.

3. Gym facilities: What does the gym offer in the way of facilities? Are the mats appropriate and safe for what you are doing? Do they have the right equipment for what you want to train? Do they sell the things you need there or do you have to buy them online? Do they have ancillary facilities, such as recovery rooms, weight lifting, sauna and/or hot/cold tubs? Are those things important to you? Can they reduce their cost of you having to buy other services?

4. Instructors: I saved this one for last because it can be hardest to judge. What metric do you judge an instructor on? Instructors are not judged on lineage, they are judged by their ability to produce competent students in what they are teaching. A sign this may not be a priority at a school is when they focus on what they have done and not what their students have done. Remember, you are paying for a service to benefit you, not the instructor. By the same token, if they don't allow cross training or going to other schools for open mats, and if they don't allow you to try all different classes before deciding, then something may be off.

The only real way to tell if instructors are competent is to see their previous results and to talk to them. Ask them their philosophy on training and why they feel that way. Do not fall for the idea of certifications, as I have yet to see major certifications in teaching jiu jitsu that are focused on creating better students, instead they are meant as a marketing tool. While there may be true instructor certification programs for jiu jitsu floating around the community, I personally can not vouch for their authenticity and have met some of the best instructors who do not have any qualification to teach other than their black belt and years of perfecting the art on and off the mat.

I will finish with advice I give any business owner. Be wary of anyone who tells you their product is best or they know best how to help you if they first don't find out what you actually want or what you do.

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