Being on the road can be disruptive to your training schedule. However, with a little planning and research you should always be able to find somewhere to train.
Visiting a new gym can be a very daunting idea for some people. Often you are unsure what to expect and may be nervous about what kind of reception you may receive
In my own experience it is very rewarding and is something I recommend you do at any chance you get. Visiting other gyms provides you with insights and knowledge that you may never get in your own academy. Getting out of your own comfort zone and training with different coaches and competitors will ultimately make you a better martial artist.
Here are some simple tips to follow to ensure a rewarding experience when visiting a new gym.
1. Let your own coach know that you plan to visit another gym
Gyms and coaches differ in their approach to letting students train elsewhere. My own coach encourages it among his students but I always make sure to let him know my plans out of courtesy.
Your own coach might even have tips and advice on which academies to visit.
2. Call/Email ahead of your visit
This is easy to do and is a much better option than just turning up on the doorstep. In your email ask whether the gym allow drop in’s and confirm the class schedule. Inquiring ahead may save you a long trip also across town and it is good practice to let the instructor know that you plan on visiting.
In your initial call/mail you should also inquire whether there is a class fee. On the day make sure you have the class fee ready and that you pay before the class begins.
3. Familiarize yourself with the gym rules
This information is often posted on the gyms website. Although the rules in each gym tend to be similar you will find that every gym has small variations so it is worth taking the time to check. It will take you less than 30 seconds to read the rules and may save you some embarrassment or confusion during your session.
Some gyms are more formal than others and as a visitor it is important to be aware if certain traditions need to be observed. For example some gyms are very particular on the color of your training gear so it is important to do some research first.
4. Sparring light
If you get a chance to spar it is very important to do so in a controlled manner. This may vary depending on your chosen sport but in general you should be very careful when sparring. There is nothing worse than the visitor that turns up looking to test their skills. Doing this is a sure fired way to get hurt and to not be welcomed back.
Alternatively some people may see the visitor as an opportunity to measure their own skills and may turn up the heat. To avoid this situation let your partner know that you want to do a light pace before the spar begins. Also try and keep your ego in check even if they are getting the better of you.
5. Be Humble!
This is obvious and probably the most important one. Come to the class with a learning mindset and be respectful to the instructors and your training partners. Even if you do not agree with a technique or do not like a particular move, you need to remind yourself that you are a visitor.
Humility is a key pillar in many martial arts and practicing it when visiting will allow you to see different ways of teaching and elements of your sport that may not have experienced before.
6. Stay Connected
When you are finished, make sure to leave the gym a review on Google and follow them on Facebook. Staying connected is also a good way of making new friends and it makes it easier to visit again. Getting to know the people in the gym is also a great for finding out more about the place you are visiting and is handy for getting tips on where to stay, eat, and visit.
If you follow these tips you will soon build up a network of gyms and friends in your chosen sport and you will never be stuck for a place to train.