Why You Should Look Past The Gym Brand
A lot of people think that status is important. They’re not necessarily wrong. We all care about brands in some way or another. Whether it’s a clothing brand or a food product, a car or a school, we all want to be told a story about a product. We want to be convinced.
It’s why we read the labels on what we buy, and one of the reasons we’re subtly obsessed with the graphic design used to make logos. We crave being presented with an appealing image, and branding works so well because branding is a story that’s told to you with your benefit in mind. Or at least, that’s what it claims.
But in my experience, (and I actually work at a marketing agency), branding is a way of continually reaffirming the image you want to project–and doesn’t necessarily make your product top shelf.
That’s why, if you’re thinking about joining a jiu jitsu gym anytime soon, you should take into account several factors other than appearance.
Number one is gym culture. Do the people at your gym practice restraint with their opponents, or do they try to crush them without any regard for their safety? What about how people practice jiu jitsu? Do they place more emphasis on strength, technique, or a balance of both? Is it a family gym or a school purely made up of people looking to compete?
It’s important to answer all of these questions and make sure that you’re ok with their answers before joining a gym. That’s because you’ll be signing a paid yearly contract, and you want to make sure that you don’t waste money for an entire year at a place that doesn’t reflect your values or feel welcoming.
Many average gyms simply use well made promotional videos and other advertisements to try to entice people to join their gyms. These videos promise weight loss, rock hard abs, and the complete elimination of fear. A lot of them are also made framed from the perspective that everything is a competition, rather than a journey.
And so people don’t even stop to think about the quality of instruction they’ll receive, because they’re too caught up in an image of themselves that they’d like to turn into a reality. Focusing on a “new you” is hard to imagine accurately before assessing the person who’ll be training you.
You should look at their jiu jitsu lineage, their professional fighting record, and take the time to actually speak with the instructor to get a feel of them.
Jiu jitsu mats need to be cleaned several times a day due to always having people sweat, drool, and (sometimes) bleed on them.
For your health and the safety of others, it’s important that mats be clean or you can run the risk of getting ringworm or other infections that can spread much faster through a dirty mat.
If the gym’s mat is filthy, look for another one. The fighters there could all be amazing, but no one wants to train in a bacterial wasteland.
WHAT NOT TO FOCUS ON
Lastly, here are some things that might draw your attention which you shouldn’t use as the deciding factors when choosing a gym.
Don’t assume that just because someone’s gym sells quality merchandise or gis that they’ll know more about jiu jitsu than a gym not as well equipped. Another gym I went to had fancy, pricey gis and signed us up for tournaments if we wanted, but I feel much better now at a gym that focuses on quality of instruction rather than merchandise. That said, their gis are sturdy and slim fitting, which I love. There’s no need to oversell the design of a gi. Simple is best.
Secondly, don’t obsess over the size of a gym. There are plenty of small, hole in the wall businesses that train quality fighters, and many large gyms that while impressive, simply don’t have the time or the staff to keep an eye on everyone’s progress.
Now that you’ve got the main points you should research, you’ll be able to compare gyms and see which one is the best fit for you.