Why Jiu Jitsu gyms insist you take a free intro class

May 18, 2015

It’s not because you get to see how the place looks.
All major gyms look the same.
There’s a mat, large open area, and small changing rooms. No big deal.

It’s not because you’ll get to see how the instructor is.
The teacher will be on his best behavior to the new potential customers. Plus they will have other students there to be friendly to you. They want you to sign.

It’s not because you’ll get to see if you like jiu jitsu or not.
You’re not going to learn anything from the intro class. And this class is usually 20-30 minutes while the real classes are 60 minutes. And much harder with less attention paid to you.

The only reason jiu jitsu gyms suggest you take a free intro class is to get you into a state of arousal so that you sign a long term contract.


If you look at this curve, decision making becomes difficult while highly aroused. It’s known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law (img via wikipedia).

During the intro class, you do just enough bjj moves to get endorphins flowing. You’ll start to feel really good. Maybe you really can do this for a long time, you think.

And then the sales pitch.
You can sign either month to month (for a ridiculously high price) or 6 months or 12 months. “And most people do the 12months”, they say. B.S.

I remember being really confused with all the terms of the contract and the different pricing strategies. It took me a long time to try to read and focus my mind. At the time I thought I was maybe dumb with numbers. Once I was back to feeling normal at home, I realized I had been too aroused to figure out math on the fly.

When you sign that piece of paper, they can relax. They have your money. For a long time.

Is it because they’re evil?
No. It’s the only way they can survive.

They need enough suckers to sign up and pay monthly fees so that they can stay in business, make enough to support their family, and the true jiu jitsu people can have a place to train.

They know what the new student doesn’t. That eventually 95% of them will stop coming in. Jiu Jitsu is very hard. So is every other form of working out. They hope that you will be one of the rare students who will stick around for a long time. But the odds are you probably won’t.

Gyms & personal trainers always want you to sign long term contracts. With no refunds.

Because they know you’ll eventually quit. And they need your money to live.

Recorded a podcast when I initially joined BJJ (episode #60)
And another when I quit (episode #65)
Lastly, I talk about the BJJ place charging me for a 7th month when I had signed a 6month contract. (episode #67)