Choosing a Gym and a Program
The new year brings on new plans to be better and do better than years past. It is the time of year that gyms of the martial arts and fitness types alike begin their campaign to attract new members. Selecting a program is often very difficult. There are some very basic guidelines to consider when making a choice. First and foremost, find an experienced coach. Just because a gym advertises that their classes are being taught by a “World Champion” does not necessarily mean that person is experienced or accomplished as a coach. Keep in mind that is what should matter most to you, you are not paying the gym to hang out with a celebrity but rather be guided along your own journey into martial arts. Many champions go on to become great coaches but coaching and being a fighter are not the same. Having experience as a competitor is a basic requirement of a coach, now ask of their coaching credentials! Ask questions and do a bit of research on the internet:
How long the coach has been coaching?
How long has the most experienced student been training with that coach?
Does the coach teach only for recreation or also train athletes that compete?
Google the coach, keep in mind that you are looking for information on the person’s coaching credentials and experience and not their prowess as an athlete. Email popular news sites or other gyms in other cities if they can recommend the coach.
Ask the coach questions about the long term strategies of coaching. Is it a well thought out system. Watch classes and ask to see people at various stages of this process.
When dealing with Kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA keep in mind these are real sports. While everyone can get involved, a coach should have experience with bringing along other athletes. Imagine a gymnastics school with a coach that never coached anyone in competition. Or a basketball coach asking for your dollars but never coached a team in a game. Even if you don’t have ambitions to compete, you should still expect that the curriculum and methods you are paying for are real and tested.
Unfortunately there are very few requirements for opening a combat sports center. It is very easy to create an environment with the look of a real gym. Do a little digging. In the long run your body will thank you. If taught incorrectly it can be very hazardous.
Other things to consider are the diversity of the demographic. A well run program will display a wide spectrum of folks!
Is the gym close enough to your work or home that you will make it on a regular basis?
Is the price fair?
Are they asking you to engage in long term binding contracts?
Is the gym clean? Dirty gyms can harbor all kinds of dangerous bacteria.
Happy New Year and happy hunting for a program that suits you!