New year, new you, amiright? One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get in shape and start going to the gym – there’s a reason for all the busy gym memes filling up our instagram feed. Martial arts are definitely a great way to get yourself into the shape of your life, and you’re more likely to stick to your resolution if you’re having fun and learning a new skill too.
But how do you pick a gym? There’s a ton of choice out there for every style of martial art, but not all gyms are created equal and you want to make sure that you’re paying for good training.
So here are FQ’s quick tips to help you pick your new gym and stop yourself ending up on the McDojo Life Instagram page.
Pick your Discipline
An obvious place to start, but basically the most important step – have a think and research what sort of martial art you want to start doing. Do you want to learn to use your hands and find a boxing gym? Or would you prefer the more well rounded striking of Muay Thai? Is grappling more your thing? Or are you interested in learning a bit of everything? Figuring this out before you start is going to focus your search.
Look at Locations
The next logical step for finding a gym is location. How far are you willing to travel for your training? This is mainly going to be linked to your goals – are you trying to lose some weight and get fitter? Finding somewhere more local that you can get to easily is going to be more important. Are you trying to be the next world champion? Probably means you’d be willing to go further if it means finding the best training. Assess your goals, then get on google and find some gyms within the right distance.
Research the Trainers
Next up we’d suggest looking at the trainers in the gym – most reputable gym websites have a list of trainers available with a bio for each one. Look at their accomplishments, how long they’ve been training and (if it tells you) their approach to classes. Someone who’s bio says they believe the best place a beginner can learn is in sparring is probably best avoided. A multiple time world champ who’s been coaching for 10 years most likely knows what they’re on about. That being said a trainers experience isn’t the be all and end all of their ability as a coach – a lot of world championship calibre fighters don’t make great coaches and a lot of average fighters make amazing coaches. Some coaches have little to no fight experience but have completely dedicated themselves to mastering the art and passing it along – as a rule of thumb though, if you’re intending to get in the ring you want someone training you who knows what it takes to make the walk.
Research the Fighters
To us this is the best judge of a gym. As we just said a trainers experience doesn’t provide the full picture of them as a coach but, again particularly if you’re looking to compete, the quality of the fighters who’ve learned from them reveals a lot about them. Richard Smith, the owner and head coach at Bad Company Gym in Leeds, is a 4x British, Commonwealth and European Champion (no mean feat in itself) and has won awards for coaching. Amazing, from that alone you know he’s probably a pretty damn good coach. Then research his fighters. The Bad Company Gym stable holds an insane 26 world titles between them. Just world titles, so not including the various national, continental and commonwealth titles they’ll have also picked up along the way. That’s an insane CV and shows why Richard Smith is one of the best coaches in the UK.
Try Them Out
You’ve followed the other steps and have found a gym you think fits what you’re looking for, now this is the next step. Get in contact and book yourself a trial class (90% of gyms will let you come try out a class before you commit to a membership) so go and see what you think. Gyms have different personalities so it becomes a case of finding the ones that fit you and the only way to do that is to get in there and try them out. Just take the leap.
Already training? Tell us how you found your gym and what tips you’d give to someone looking for a place to train in the comments below!