Why BJJ is so expensive

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by Kyuktooki, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. trustdoesntrust

    trustdoesntrust Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    678
    bjj instructors for sure have the right to make money, but at the same time i think they have a responsibility to prevent the sport from becoming one that's only for wealthy hobbyists. for example, plenty of community rec centers would be glad to help provide free bjj for underpriveleged kids, whether done onsite or via free tuition at your gym
     
  2. andrewm2211

    andrewm2211 Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    283
    I feel like everyone wants to put the burden on instructors but any purple or above in this thread could go teach for free at a rec center if they wanted.
     
    bowened and shunyata like this.
  3. shunyata

    shunyata Black Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    7,367
    Likes Received:
    699
    Location:
    The City of Angels
    We basically covered this multiple times over but.........................

    The difference in pricing between a non profit club and professional gym is the cost of commercial real estate.

    If one owns or leases space for a gym, you need to charge accordingly to stay afloat.

    If you are organized as a volunteer club sport with all volunteer instructors that have day jobs and the gym is free because your club brings mats to a public school gym, overhead will be lower.

    But even then, in Judo as a club sport we fund raised like crazy. Bake sales were definitely a thing.


    All it takes to get a non profit club rolling is semi competent people willing to teach free classes in a public space.
     
    andrewm2211 likes this.
  4. nefti

    nefti Red Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Messages:
    8,559
    Likes Received:
    1,038
    Or you can volunteer to pay 10~20% in additional tuition fees and that will pay for scholarship students.

    So are you personally willing to pay more?

    If so, how much more are you wiling to pay?
     
    McA and andrewm2211 like this.
  5. trustdoesntrust

    trustdoesntrust Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    678
    bjj gyms, like many educational and service entities, are able to offer 'scholarships' with no significant extra cost since the facilities are already paid for, the instructors are already there, et al.
     
  6. nefti

    nefti Red Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Messages:
    8,559
    Likes Received:
    1,038
    Many educational institutions have benefactors and alumni that donate money for scholarships ect.

    So my question stands:
    Are you willing to sacrifice for underprivileged children?

    How much are you willing you pay more?
     
    McA and andrewm2211 like this.
  7. lechien

    lechien Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    16,088
    Likes Received:
    1,158
    Actually I would disagree.

    We don't the responsibility to prevent the above.

    In fact, teaching for free can be counter productive.

    It is like giving free puppies, if people don't have to save money and sacrifice for it ...they might not appreciate it.

    I have been running my own club and teaching for the past 7 years.

    While I make it clear that it is a hobby and will not associate with full time instructor s for personal reasons.

    I still understand that there is a need for their services.

    But if you want to teach bjj for free, good on you. I would respect that.
     
  8. jr jr

    jr jr Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    244
    Free is generally bad. As in my experience you get uncommitted people. Uncommitted students make it hard to build a culture. Part of grappling is the community. It cant be helped. We trust these people not to break our limbs. We trust them to touch our bodies. There is no where else in life where I put my face against another person other (other than an intimate partner). Going "ear to ear" is everyday business. Full time instructors are great. Many of the guys I work out with cross train with other instructors, myself included.

    At the end of the day, those guys need to make 50K per year to have a reasonable life. Thats a really hard thing to do for most places. Thats more than 40 students paying $100 per month just to cover one persons salary full time. Add rent, insurance, marketing, etc... it becomes hard. The next financial downturn in the US will likely change our business model IMOP.
     
    shunyata likes this.
  9. Dogstarman

    Dogstarman Old man jiu jitsu

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Messages:
    11,410
    Likes Received:
    4,214
    Location:
    On the mats
    Why would you do that? If the market value is a certain rate in an area, you coming and charging way below market value, fucks it up for the guys trying to make a living off teaching.
     
  10. trustdoesntrust

    trustdoesntrust Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    678
    I run a business that provides in-home tutoring services for kids with Special Needs. Most of my clients are well-off families, some very much so, but I always keep a few slots open to serve poor families, and personally make a couple weekly trips out to the Sunnydale projects at no cost. If I ran a jiu-jitsu school I would definitely recruit from this area and worry about tuition later.
     
  11. trustdoesntrust

    trustdoesntrust Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    678
    I think you're right that you have to draw a firm line with tuition, because otherwise everybody will have a sad sack story about why they need a break. However, this does not change the fact that we are dealing with an expensive sport that automatically disqualifies a huge portion of the public because of it. I'm not a gym owner, but I am a business owner, and I just don't see the problem with cultivating a few free spots for those who might truly need it. Again, if you run a gym the lights are already on, the instructors are already there, etc.
     
  12. asian-glow

    asian-glow Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    140
    I know a few places, including my previous school, that had scholarship programs that you could apply to in order to get your tuition waived for X amount of time.
     
  13. Balto

    Balto Silver Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Messages:
    12,789
    Likes Received:
    987
    I would say it's not really that expensive now.

    My sister teaches fitness classes in NYC -- basically the bike riding ones. She was surprised at how much cheaper BJJ was compared to her classes. I'm not talking about BJJ gyms in a lower cost market; I showed her the rates for NYC BJJ gyms like Marcelo's. Training 3x a week at Marcelo's costs a lot less than taking her hour long classes 3x a week. Marcelo's works out to be about half the price.

    BJJ instructors are also generally more qualified. I mean she has spent her whole life doing fitness/athletic stuff, but she is not actually involved in the sport of cycling. She has not won cycling championships at various levels, etc. So that is another gap to adjust for that makes BJJ seem relatively cheap.

    The gym I train at also has a regular fitness gym out front. So I know the going price for just gym access without an instructor. That price covers the space, insurance, utilities, capital investment for the equipment, cleaning, bare bones staff just to lock/unlock the door, etc. That's about $35/month in our real estate market.

    That $35/month is subsidized too by the fact that a lot of people feel pressure to maintain some sort of regular gym membership even when they don't go. If the gym only accepted memberships from people who showed up at least once a month, it would probably have to rise to $50/month or so just to cover those fixed costs.

    We only charge $100/month for BJJ, so the difference is an extra $50/month to cover the extra labor of having people teach classes. That's the BJJ instructor premium right there that pays the instructor after expenses. So for a medium sized gym of 100 students, that's $50K/year actually paid out to a full time instructor. That seems pretty fair to me? I mean I am not sure how much cheaper we actually expect it to be.

    This holds across different markets too. Where I used to live it was $150/month. But the real estate market there was also about 2x as expensive. So it was probably roughly the same $50/month BJJ instructor premium that actually pays the guy -- maybe $75/month at max. And this instructor was quite a high level coach on the competition scene.

    People say wrestling is so much cheaper, but I was just at a wrestling camp last month. The price for a week long camp for the kids was comparable to the same price we charge for a week long BJJ camp. About the same hours too. The wrestling camp also gets a huge discount on the facility because one of the main organizers is the athletic director at the high school we rent out. BJJ doesn't usually have the same subsidies in place.

    Overall I just challenge the notion that BJJ is actually expensive. It's one of the cheapest activities I've ever been involved in. I spend more on skiing for four months than someone would spend on BJJ all year. People who golf, shoot, race cars, etc. all pay more. The guys who play recreational hockey at the rink next door to our gym spend more for their ice time and equipment.

    I don't really see it getting much cheaper. I've seen a lot of people open up their own schools for a million different reasons. Somehow they always seem to magically charge the market rate, more or less. Even when they said they were going to be way cheaper when they first had the idea to open up, once they actually get the space and start paying the bills, the price magically adjusts to market rate just like that.
     
  14. Old Man

    Old Man Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Messages:
    7,010
    Likes Received:
    370
    Location:
    New York City
  15. shunyata

    shunyata Black Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    7,367
    Likes Received:
    699
    Location:
    The City of Angels
    I see a lot of non business hours just magically saying, "the lights are on, the instructors are paid"

    Are you kidding yourselves?

    The lights are on because the electric bill was paid. If you're training in a hot climate in the summer, AC or at the very least serious ventilation fans are adding to that cost.

    Cost of the space is MASSIVE. Most people do not own the land the school is one, most schools are paying a commercial lease. Even if they own the real estate outright they need to recoup the cost of investment. If they have an arrangement with the owner of a larger gym, they are paying for the use of the space.

    All of this isn't free.

    Judo was cheap as dirt when I was a kid because the club fundraised like crazy and had deals to use middle school and high school gyms for our class.

    We brought the mats, set em up, trained, broke em down, and loaded them back into the vans at the end of each class.

    When I've trained judo at a professionally owned gym, the rates were standard for pro BJJ gyms in the area.
     
    jr jr likes this.
  16. nefti

    nefti Red Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Messages:
    8,559
    Likes Received:
    1,038
    Its all nice but you haven't answered my questions:

    Are you willing to sacrifice for underprivileged children?

    How much are you willing you pay more?

    Only these two questions. I'm not interested in your claims on how you run your business. I'm asking specific questions on what you are willing to give to your bjj school.
     
  17. nefti

    nefti Red Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Messages:
    8,559
    Likes Received:
    1,038
    Or if you really care so much about "cultivating those who need it" ; you can offer to pay more. You yourself can sponsor a student or % of his tuition, inspire the school and others to do the same.
     
  18. lechien

    lechien Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    16,088
    Likes Received:
    1,158
    I charge like 20 dollars per week. It is like 12.50 for a big Mac combo or a subway in my country .so I don't think i am terribly expansive.
    I refund half of the entry fee to the competitors. I give discount to students, family package, police officers . I have no sign up fee and contracts.
    I sell all my merchandise at cost.

    But yet, we have people that will go to a full time professional instructor and easily pay 2 to 3 times more with none of the above deals and discounts.

    Like I said there is a need and supply for both different format of bjj gym.
     
  19. lechien

    lechien Gold Belt

    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    16,088
    Likes Received:
    1,158
    The issue of it is the business owner's responsibility to give back to society by working for free OR making the customers pay more if they choose too so the business owner can get paid to work more is very interesting.
     
  20. trustdoesntrust

    trustdoesntrust Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    678
    you and i may be talking about slightly different things. i'm saying that, as a gym owner, you can (and i think should) offer tuition breaks to poor kids who wouldn't get past this barrier to entry otherwise, and without requiring a sponsor to cover their entry. as a business owner i regularly make this sacrifice to those who need it, and i do not consider it something that requires compensation from my other clients.
     
    lechien likes this.

Share This Page