This week is another guest post from Mrs Munki. Being a predominately male sport BJJ, when women go to an academy to train, in the UK at least their experiences can differ. Most of the time this variation is not on purpose, it usually relates to a lack of knowledge in relation to training with and coaching female athletes. So following on from a recent experience Mrs Munki decided to pass on some advice for guys, about welcoming women to your gym.
Ok the last post I did for Mr Munki was my take on the excellent video done by Rener and Eve Gracie which you can see here. I was slightly hesitant when he asked me to write another post triggered by being a women in BJJ (there’s a lot out of great blogs out there). But the experience I’ve had this week meant I had to write something about welcoming a women into your gym. It was quite possibly my worse experience as a female athlete let alone in BJJ, but admittedly it was also quite funny! Although that’s probably just because I have a thick skin!
Anyhow I thought I’d share my experience with you along with some top tips to avoid these situations which if I’m honest actually aren’t just about women, aren’t rocket science and are mostly just common sense!
So back to the story. We were booked onto a seminar with an awesome visiting black belt who was covering a couple of my favourite topics that I’m working on at the moment (I’m leaving out specific details as this isn’t designed to be a name and shame thing). The host had organised a great seminar I’d attended previously, so I was really looking forward to it. However the seminar was being held at another venue I had not been to before and that’s where the fun begins.
We were greeted by the senior belt of the host venue on arrival. I say greeted well Mr Munki was, followed by an awkward exchange along the lines off “your girlfriend can… Oh she’s actually training errr does she need to change” if anyone watches the Big Bang theory the scene where the girls walk into the comic store isn’t that dissimilar to the vibe I was getting.
The first 30 seconds in particular!
Piece of advice no 1 – Don’t freak out when women show up at your gym or at least try to hide it! It really makes for an awkward first impression. Women do want to train BJJ, it can be fun and enjoyable. So you may get one or two rocking up, beware!!
Luckily when I’m going to an unknown venue I always wear my shorts and rash guard underneath my clothes just in case. Not all venues are big enough for proper changing facilities. That doesn’t stop them being female friendly, it’s just that everyone has to deal with a lack of changing room space! Unfortunately this wasn’t the case here.
After taking off my shoes so I could walk across the gym and through several matted training areas I was essentially escorted to the sink area of the communal toilets. The guy was obviously still shaken by the thought of a girl on the mats as Mr Munki had to change with me as the gents changing room didn’t get pointed out to him!
As an aside it’s at this point I noticed something really gross. As you weren’t allowed shoes in the matted area (and left them at reception) it means that you wouldn’t have practical access to your shoes / flip flops if you needed the toilet. The gym didn’t appear to provide any communal flip flops or similar and there wasn’t the usual default gym signage re shoes and toilets. So if you needed the loo you either levitated or had bare feet. Think about it, communal toilets and bare feet = mat nasties!!
Piece of advice no 2 – on a major generalisation here but women tend to have higher standards of hygiene than men and will spot these sort of things! Which can be a helpful in many ways. Although despite the generalisation, I also know many guys who will be thinking “ewww nasty” as they read this. But either way you’re running classes where people roll around on the mats, nobody wants pee residue or other nasties on their feet or on the mat!
I noticed my next amazing fact of the day. In the past the gym obviously had at least a separate women’s toilet / space as there was a door next to the gents changing area, with a women’s sign on it. So why wasn’t it used? Because they obviously need somewhere to put stuff and across the door was the obvious place!
Piece of advice No 3 – no bespoke female changing room, no problem! But think in advance as how your going to do this. Whether it’s pull round screen in a spare space to ensure a bit of privacy or kicking all the men out of the communal changing area it doesn’t matter. What does matter is showing you’ve thought about how you can best make do!
Oh and a bonus tip if you have decided to use the women’s space as a storage room or if its broken and has grown into such a state of disrepair it become a unique hazard then please try and remove the signage. Nothing say welcome more than a discontinued women’s toilet / changing room!
Despite all of this the seminar was well worth it. Some great technical elements were covered including a nice jiu jitsu variation of kata guruma.
I do hope someone finds my basic tips useful like I said at the beginning they’re not rocket science or hard work. Guys just think a little when welcoming women to your gym.