Almost anyone addicted to jiu jitsu has at some point considered throwing it all away and leading the BJJ lifestyle. Is it doable? What is it really like? I’ve spent 2 years working at my gym and this is how it compares to an office job.
1. The main idea behind working at a BJJ gym is to be able to train more. It really is much easier when jiu jitsu classes are included in your job description. Being able to train at all times of day is a great option to have, but over time it can become tricky.
My shifts used to be either 6 or 10 h long. The lunchtime classes were great, but evening training could be difficult to attend. After having spent so much time at the gym/work you’re drained, tired and it feels like you are voluntarily staying longer at work.
Even if at times when you need that extra kick of motivation, it is still much easier than having to head to the gym from the office. Everybody around you understands your training needs, injuries and the new diet. Unfortunately, it’s not always perfect.
2. Once you start working there, the club is no longer your happy place where all sorrows disappear. It becomes your workplace and sometimes it’s difficult to clear your head for training.
It gets even more complicated if your coach is your boss. Both of you have to be two different people on and off the mat. The way your interactions go in either setting will impact your view of the person in the other and if there’s any conflict involved it gets even harder to manage.
Working somewhere else ensures that the gym remains your holy retreat. Maintaining a great relationship with your coach also comes more easily if you’re not connected professionally. On the up side, if you are not afraid to be strict with people when it comes to payments, it’s a relatively easy and pleasant job, with lots of chatting, gym gossip and banter. It is nowhere near as stressful as an office job and you have to dress only half-decently!
3. Working at reception/running the club allows you to get to know your teammates better, but this is not always a good thing. A guy that was a cool training partner can turn out to be a dick who is trying to sneak into training for free again, even though he hasn’t been paying his direct debit for the last 6 months. Most people don’t think of it this way, but this is effectively stealing from your team and your coaches – people whom you supposedly respect.
Most jiu jitsu people are friendly and sensible. But just like the office environment may force you to work with someone you absolutely hate, this can sometimes be a problem here too when you get paired up in training.
4. You’re in great shape. Working at the gym usually means that you have more time to focus on your diet, supplementation, training, stretching and you can move about all day. It makes you feel amazing and physically healthy.
An office job, if you’re anything like me, will give you a terrible back pain even in your early twenties, will make your muscles stiff and will cause them to cramp. You’ll overeat during long days at the desk, stress will bring your healthy diet down and all this computer work will give you a terrible posture. All this happens o matter how much you stretch or how much you love what you are doing there.
5. Your income from a BJJ job will most likely be relatively low. Due to the specific type of business that BJJ gyms are, you do not have high chances to earn much by working at one, unless you own it. This means that you may have all the time and work-flexibility needed to compete, but you will not be able to do it as much as you’d like due to the cost. The corporate world will generally provide you with a higher salary, but there isn’t much flexibility in terms of going away.
Working at a BJJ place can make you feel anxious about money in the long run. Even if your plan is to open a gym one day, working at one won’t necessarily provide you with enough money to do so. You generally only get holiday or sick pay if you’re actually an employee, which is not obvious in this line of work.
This is where office jobs provide more security. Not only will your income continue increasing, but you get instant access to a pension scheme and other benefits.I have tried both options and still haven’t found the perfect fit. If you have had similar experiences, I’d love know what you thought of it all!