BJJ Gym Red Flags 🚩
Author: XMartial Editorial | Published Date:
Searching for a new gym can be stressful and even more stressful if you’re not sure what negative things you should be wary of. Here’s a list of red flags you should look out for when looking for a new gym.
1. Instructor is constantly on their phone during class
If the instructor is not actively instructing (i.e. making sure students are doing the moves correctly, making sure to answer questions etc.) it’s a sign that they may not value your time as a student or may not care if you’re actually successful. The whole point of being a coach is to do just that: coach. It’s important that when you’re on the mat, your coach is there too, making sure that yourself and your teammates are not only getting the most out of the day's class, but also making sure everyone is training safely.
2. Women don’t train at the gym
Many times, if a gym has absolutely no women or women don’t stay long, it’s not a great atmosphere to train in. Usually, there’s an unreasonable amount of ego, unsafe/unclean training conditions or just an unwelcoming atmosphere. Additionally, this may also mean the instructor has had or attempted to have an inappropriate relationship with their students. Relationships in the gym do happen, but if the coach is constantly trying to get with every new student, it’s typically a sign you don’t want to associate with them.
3. There are gym favorites
If the gym has favorites, they may be overlooking other students or not providing quality instruction to everyone. Additionally, the gym may not have a strong team because only two or three individuals are recognized out of the group. This can lead to bitterness between teammates which can throw off the entire gym atmosphere. It’s important to note that some gyms are specifically competition gyms or may have another specialty which they focus on, meaning that those students may spend more time with coaches. However, unabridged favoritism shouldn’t ever be acceptable.
4. The instructors don’t roll (excluding injuries)
Plain and simple, if you don’t see your instructor roll, you can’t tell what their skill level is or if what they’re teaching is applicable. If your instructor feels like they’re “too good” to roll with the students, you’re in for a bad time. Instructors should always be willing to catch a roll with their students, especially if they use “time on the mat” as a way of determining promotions.. It’s difficult to determine how a student is progressing if they’ve never rolled one-on-one with their coach.
5. The gym is dirty
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. If the mats are dirty/there’s little to no sanitation, there’s a good chance you may catch something from rolling there. If the gym isn’t taken care of, the students probably aren’t either. The best coaches (and best gyms) take pride in the appearance of their facilities as it’s a direct reflection of themselves. Dirty gyms can be a sign the coach is lazy or simply doesn’t care.
6. Instructors no show
There’s nothing worse than showing up to a gym ready to learn then having to head home because the instructor never showed up. You as a student are paying for a service and it’s important that that commitment is honored on both ends. Accidents happen but if your instructor won’t send out a notification of a changed schedule or is always apologizing for not showing up, it’s a sign that they don’t value your time.
7. If something feels “off”
It’s absolutely okay to trust your gut. If you get a bad feeling from a place, it’s okay to leave. Remember, BJJ (and many martial arts) can be dangerous and training with individuals you don’t trust can lead to serious repercussions. Sometimes, our gut is by far the best indicator of our training partners and our gym.
At the end of the day, find a place that aligns with your goals and makes you feel like part of the team. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a great martial art and can be even better if you’re training at the right place. Just because a gym pops up after searching “bjj gyms near me” doesn’t mean it's actually the gym for you.
It’s alright to be picky until you find the place you’d like to be and always keep an eye out for red flags.
AUTHOR: KATHRYN PETTY