Here are all of the factors you should consider when choosing a gym for martial arts in Manassas, VA, or anywhere else.
BEFORE YOU VISIT
1. What are your goals?
Are you interested in self-defense, getting in shape, discipline, confidence, or any of the other benefits that martial arts offer? Do you want the option to compete in martial arts as you build your skills to help build your confidence as you become more proficient? Are you just looking at this as a hobby? Are you looking for just your children, or do you want a program you can participate in too?
It’s important to know what you want out of a martial arts school. You may not know all the benefits for you or your children, but the more you can tell the coaches about your goals, and what you want out of training, the better they can help you get into the right classes.
2. How close is the gym to your house, or regularly traveled routes?
If the gym isn’t close or easy to get to it is very difficult to go on a regular basis without some serious discipline. That being said, check out all the places that are reasonable to get to, because just because something is the closest doesn’t mean it is the best choice.
3. Do any of your friends attend classes, or have children attending where you are looking?
You can learn a lot from your friends and their experiences. Ask around on Facebook if you aren’t sure if people have trained at the gyms you are looking at.
4. Check out the coaches’ bios and qualifications.
You want to know that the people teaching you skills that you might have to use to defend yourself or your loved ones know what they are doing, have the absolute best backgrounds, real-world experience, national and international competition resumes, true expertise in the areas they are teaching, and current background checks if they are working with your children.
5. Check out their schedule
When are you looking for classes? When does training best fit into your schedule? How often do they offer classes? Are there a variety of classes? Do the styles offered support your goals?
6. Read the online reviews.
You can learn a lot from online reviews. Google Places is probably the best place to start. You can check out Yelp.com as well, but know they filter reviews based on who advertises with them. You can access the filtered reviews from a subdued link near the bottom of the page. You will also have to enter a “captcha” to prove you aren’t a robot…
7. Do they offer a trial program?
Some places will offer a free trial-period and then hit you with high-pressure sales tactics to get you to sign up sooner to avoid an “initiation fee” or something along those lines.
NEXT: Call or E-mail them and set up a visit to:
1. Get a tour, watch some classes, and ask questions
2. Check out the equipment and facilities
The gym’s willingness to put money into high-quality workout gear (mats, pads, heavy bags, conditioning gear, weights) and have a top-tier facility shows a dedication to your safety and an enjoyable training experience. Sub-standard gear becomes unsafe quickly, and negatively impacts the training experience.
3. See if it’s clean
How often do they clean their mats? How often is the gear disinfected? Do people walk off of the mat, or even worse, into the bathroom with bare feet, and then return to the mat? Are the restroom(s), changing room(s), and showers clean? Do they even have showers?
4. Check out the parking
5. See if they have private changing and shower areas
6. Talk to the staff – discuss your specific goals
The staff and coaches should be happy to spend some time with you, give you a tour, and discuss what you are looking to get out of training.
7. Get a feel for the culture
What kind of team is there? Do they support each other’s goals? Do they treat each other, the coaches, and the members with respect? Do they validate their training by participating in competitions? Will they support competitors? Will you be pushed to compete if you don’t want to? What is their competition resume? How active is their fight team and who have they produced as far as fighters go?
8. Discuss training rates for something that supports your goals.
Think “value” over “cost”. What are you getting for your money? Often cheaper places will put restrictions on how many classes you can attend per week or month. Beware hidden “initiation fees”, “belt-testing” or “promotion fees”, or other costs other than your monthly dues.