In my 3 years at my BJJ school, I would occasionally bump into former training partners that just disappeared after training for several months. I would often ask them why they stopped attending classes and a common response would be not having the money to train. On a surface level, this sounds like a reasonable response. In Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, training in martial arts is not on the bottom of the pyramid with food and shelter. However, if they were passionate about Jiu Jitsu and their training, they would take a hard look at their lifestyle and finances and find a way to afford training. Training in Jiu Jitsu isnt cheap. In Los Angeles, a monthly membership to 24 Hour Fitness can range from $25 to $50 per month while a good BJJ school will run $100 or higher each month. Top schools such as Cobrinhas , Kron Gracie, Romulo Barral, and AOJ can easily run $200 or more each month.
In addition to the membership costs is the high cost of equipment. Rash guards can run anywhere from $25 to $75. Kimonos/Gis can cost anywhere from $75 to $250. Competitions can run from $50 to $130 per competition. Jiu Jitsu isnt a cheap sport, but it is still economically accessible to most with proper financial planning and the desire and passion to train.
Here are 10 tips and things to consider to help you find the funds to train BJJ.
Reduce or cut out alcohol: A night out on the town with friends can easily run $50 an outing. Buying a case of beer at home can run around $20. While kicking back with your friend is a fun time, the amount of empty calories, carbohydrates, and the mental and physical impact of drinking on your health and wallet likely isn’t worth the costs. Evaluate how much you are spending on alcohol each month and decide if you can cut back or eliminate it from your budget. Also evaluate if consuming alcohol is impacting your recovery from workouts, ability to train to your potential and your overall health. I have never met anybody who was worse off from cutting back on their alcohol consumption.
Drink more water: Instead of drinking soda, energy drinks,sports drinks and making the Starbucks runs, consider replacing these drinks with water. One of my best recent purchases has been the Zero Water Filter system. Now, when I am home I simply drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water and other canned or bottled drinks. This has helped me cut back on empty calories, while also saving money on my weekly grocery bills.
Buy a big ass water bottle: I used to have a bad habit of buying bottled water at my gym. At $1 to $2 per bottle depending on size, the costs of water was adding up. Purchasing a Klean Kanteen and using a water filter has helped save $5 to $10 per week, which adds up to a $250 to $500 savings per year on bottled water.
Eat at home: I live in a great restaurant town, work long hours, and live on my own. All of this is a recipe for eating out a lot. Eating out for lunch every day at work would cost me $50 to $70 per week. On top of the high cost, I usually chose unhealthy lunch options such as pizza and the Orange Chicken from Panda Express. I switched to making quick lunches at home that are gluten free and takes only 10 minutes to cook in one pan or pot. By making a dish such as ground turkey with salsa, and plantain chips mixed together, my costs for lunch went from $50 to $70 a week to $25 a week for a $25 to $45 cost savings per week. Another tip that I picked up to avoid eating out or picking up food on the way home from training at night is to keep my refrigerator stocked with healthy food that I would want to eat such as chicken, steaks,fruits, and bacon (paleo diet). Now, I might spend a few more dollars per week at the super market, but those extra dollars spent is still less than the amount I would be spending eating out after training.
Cut cable: The average monthly cable bill in the United States was $86. Think of all the channels you pay for that you never watch. Ditch the cable and just go with home internet. Through home internet, an Apple TV or smart TV and subscriptions to Netflix or Hulu Plus, you are able to access a lot of content. Also, many people in their 20s and even 30s are using their parents’ cable accounts to access cable television content through their iPads and laptops. Ditching cable and using Netflix and Hulu Plus will help cut your bills from $86 to $20 a month.
Cut down on going out: Going out on the weekends is fun, but it puts a huge dent on the wallet and impacts your recovery from workouts. I am not saying you should become a social hermit. You can still have fun with your friends and significant others by having movie night and game nights at home. A pot luck game night or movie night with friends can run around $10 to $15 versus $50 or more spent going out to a restaurant, movies, or bar/club.
Search for entertainment deals online: I try to avoid paying full price when I do go out. Groupon, Living Social, Goldstar, and ScoreBig are great ways to get tickets to amusement parks, movies, museums, and sporting events. I used Goldstar to buy $50 Bellator tickets for $25 and bought decent $75 seats to a Los Angeles Clippers game for $25 off ScoreBig. Other great deals I took advantage of on Groupon was 50% off Whale Watching and $8 tickets to see Bryan Callen at the Comedy Store. If you are going to go out, search for deals on these discount sites.
Get gear at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Target/BJJ HQ: Rash guards can run from $25 to $75, while Gis cost between $75 to $250. You dont need the fanciest equipment and gear to train. I still purchase Dri-Fit apparel from TJ Maxx, Marshall and Target for $8 to $15 per shirt. At TJ Maxx and Marshalls, I am able to purchase Nike and Under Armour for $12 to $15 per shirt and I pay $8 to $10 for a Champion shirt at Target. These shirts are durable and l still use shirts I purchased over 2 years ago. If there is a funky scent that develops in the shirt, I will soak the shirts in vinegar before washing them or mix vinegar into the laundry load. Kimonos/Gis can purchase them for as low $60 on Amazon. For the same price as one Storm Kimono or Shoyoroll Gi, you can purchase 3 kimonos that will cover your workout wardrobe for the week. Also, sign up for BJJHQs email and Facebook page to receive daily deals on BJJ apparel and equipment. Last week, the site featured a Gameness Air gi that retails for $130 for $95.
Side gigs: Several of my teammates have side gigs in order to help supplement their incomes and pay for their training. One student at my gym picked up a job helping another student with auto body repair work. Another student started driving for Lyft and Uber to pay for his training. He mentioned that he would leave for the gym early and pick up a passenger of the way to the gym to earn extra money.
Ask your school for payment options: Gym owners are running a business and they need to cover their overhead. However, most are reasonable and will work with you in order to get or maintain your business. Some schools will reduce tuition in exchange for help cleaning the school or to market it. In some cases, gym owners are busy with the day-to-day operations and they might need a social media specialist, website manager, or graphic designer to help out with advertising and marketing. This is where a student might be able to barter their skills in exchange for tuition.
In the end you will need to have the burning desire to sacrifice and train in BJJ in order to stick with it. I hope these tips help you or a friend find a way to make BJJ fit into your budget.
What other tips do you have to fit BJJ into your budget? Feel free to post your tips in the comments below.