Choosing a martial arts gym to train in is a big decision and can have a big impact on your training.
In general, choosing a martial arts gym comes down to location, atmosphere, and great instructors. When all these things are in place, training any martial art will be much more pleasant and rewarding.
First, we will go through different things to look out for when choosing a gym to train at, then we go through step-by-step how you can do the final decision. Let’s get started!
Things to look for when choosing a martial arts gym
There are a few essential things to look out for when choosing the right martial arts gym for You.
Location of the martial arts gym
First and probably the most important factor when choosing a martial arts gym is the location.
The location can have a huge impact on how often and for how long you will continue to train the martial art. If you have to drive an hour every time in order to train for an hour, the amount of time that goes for logistics only is insane.
The barrier for you to attend the class will be much higher if the gym is far from your home or your workplace. Therefore, look for gyms that are located near your home, or your workplace if you wish to train after work.
Location can also have a huge impact on what martial art you decide to start training. Some smaller cities do not have all the available options larger cities do. Therefore, that is one thing in mind when choosing the right martial art for you.
How traditional the gym is
Depending on the martial art you are starting, the rules can be really strict, or the gym could be more modern with loose rules on how you speak to your instructor as well as how you dress in the class.
This comes down to your personal preferences and there are pros and cons to both, traditional and modern martial arts gyms.
Typically you can find out how strict the rules are by visiting the gym for the first time. First times are usually free of charge, so you can see, whether the gym is right for you without any commitments.
Make sure to ask straight from the instructors about the basic rules of the gym, as well as other practitioners what they think about the gym.
Legitimacy of the instructors
The next thing to look out for is the legitimacy of the instructors. This can vary a lot, depending on the martial art. Some martial arts have a belt system, whereas others use shirts or no visible ranking system at all.
Therefore, look out for whether the instructor has any merits from competitions for example, or are they registered in international groups for certain martial arts and can be verified for their belts, example.
In smaller cities, the instructor might not even be the highest possible rank in the martial arts. For example, even that Brazilian jiu-jitsu has a higher belt of black belt, some gyms have instructors that have brown or purple belts. (More about the BJJ belt system in this post.)
That does not mean they are not suitable to be instructors, but that is another thing to look out for when choosing a gym.
This is another thing to ask from other practitioners at the gym when you are first visiting. Ask how they feel about the competence of the instructor and the way they teach.
How competitive the gym and other practitioners are
The competitiveness of the gym, instructor as well as the other practitioners can play a big role as well. If you are looking to compete and progress as fast as possible, look for a gym where that goal is shared by others as well.
On the other hand, if you are just looking for a hobby, (nothing wrong with that) it might be better to look for more casual gym, that is not hyper competitive.
Then there are gyms somewhere between. The competitiveness of the gym is not always 0 or 100, it can be anything in between. Look for a gym that best suits your training style and your goals.
Equipment, building, air conditioning and hygiene
Depending on the martial art, the equipment used can vary a lot. However, almost all martial arts need at least some kind of equipment. That might be the mat or punching bags, for example.
Look for the condition and hygiene of the equipment, as well as the condition of the locker rooms and such. You can also smell from the air, if the air quality is not great. It can be a big factor when it comes for training for longer periods of time.
Cost and cancellation policy
Last but definitely not least is the cost of training, as well as the cancellation policy of the martial arts gym.
If you just want to try something new out, signing up for a 12 month agreement right off the bat can be a long commitment, if after a month you realize this is not your thing.
Therefore, ask for a shorter commitment if that is how you feel.
The prices can also vary a lot depending on the martial art, the gym you decide as well as the city you train in. I have a few example posts on all the costs of different martial arts, you can check them out below.
On top of the membership fee, there could be a sign up fee and all the equipment you will have to buy. It depends a lot on the martial art on how costly your new hobby will be.
How to choose the martial arts gym step-by-step
Now, let’s go through a checklist you can use to choose the best martial arts gym for your needs.
1. Compare the gyms nearby your home or workplace
Look for the gyms in the internet searching from Google, Facebook or Instagram for example. Look for updates, pictures, comments and reviews.
Some gyms might have their prices on their websites as well, so keep an eye open for those as well.
2. Sign up for a first visiting class
Some gyms have common starter days, where new people can come and see how things are done. Look for those, or ask if you could come see things out in the next lesson they have.
This should be free and without any commitment so far. You want to see what you are signing up for.
3. Ask for feedback about the gym from other practitioners
When you get to the gym, ask for people how they feel about the gym, what are their goals and how competent they think the instructors are.
Some of the people might not want to give their honest opinion, because they are afraid it could backlash. Therefore, ask for more than 1 people if possible.
4. Interview the instructor
Nobody knows their gym better than the instructor. If you have something you want to know, ask the instructor.
That might be the pricing, cancellation policy, gym rules and everything that might come to mind. You could ask about the competitions and what equipment are needed if you wish to start training at that gym.
5. Check the equipment and the hygiene of the gym
Nothing speaks better for itself than the gym itself. You can see the hygiene, feel the air condition and see the equipment yourself.
That can help you to decide whether the gym is good enough for your standards.
In conclusion, the best way to find the best martial arts gym for your needs, is to visit the gyms yourself.
No words in the internet can better tell the true nature of a gym, but visiting it yourself. The biggest deciding factor is the location, since it can be really tough to drive for hours for one lesson.
Hopefully this post will help you to decide what is the best martial arts gym for you!
Have a wonderful day!